We have said it before, but it is worth saying again: At Impact Hub Vienna we do not shy away from any conversation and neither do our ventures. So we are going to have an interesting conversation about a taboo subject, and we are just going to put it out there right now – this is definitely an article about feminine hygiene products.

Actually, even saying it that way still makes it more awkward than just being frank and open, this is really going to be about the products that women use while on their periods. Meet two women who decided that taboos about menstruation needed to be trashed.

Introducing Erdbeerwoche!

Erdbeerwoche Founders
Erdbeerwoche Founders

Erdbeerwoche is a company that was founded by Annemarie Harant and Bettina Steinbrugger, who had worked as consultants in the sustainability sector. They noticed something odd – in all the conversations about sustainability the feminine hygiene sector was excluded. Annemarie and Bettina decided to fill the gap.

So what does Erdbeerwoche do exactly? And that is an excellent question. They are the first company in the German speaking world to provide awareness and education regarding the choices and alternatives for feminine hygiene products. They also have a handy online store, where after reading the information on their site, you can choose to purchase any number of environmentally friendly and healthy for you alternatives to your current products for all your menstruation needs.

Did you know ….

“Even though menstruation happens to nearly every girl and woman every single month, people do not talk about it. This is why many women (and men!) are not aware of the social, environmental and health impacts of this taboo,” Bettina states.

“Every year, 45 billion conventional hygiene products pollute our planet. The problem: 90% of tampons and pads consist of a cellulose plastic mix and that is why one single tampon takes up to 500 years to biodegrade,” Bettina continued.


Watch ‘Breaking the bloody taboo’ by Annemarie Harant & Bettina Steinbrugger at TEDxDonauinsel


While the statistics are staggering this is not just an environmental issue but it is also a personal health issue. Recent studies have found harmful substances in standard feminine hygiene products which have been linked to abnormal tissue growth in the abdomen and reproductive organs, abnormal cell growth throughout the body, immune system suppression, hormonal and endocrine system disruption, according to an EPA draft report.

“This is just one of the many reasons why it is so important to educate women and girls about menstruation and feminine hygiene.”

Helping Hands at the Hub

We try to provide our ventures with help and support through many innovative scaling and accelerator programs. Erdbeerwoche took advantage of the Investment Ready Program in 2016, as well as our scaling program. We sat down to chat with them about their experiences in the program.produktportfolio_druck

“The IRP was especially was helpful for us because we had many valuable bilateral coaching sessions with experts, starting from finance to sales and marketing. We also learned how to prepare the perfect pitch.”

Annemarie and Bettina say that the three most valuable things they learned in the IRP was how to create a convincing pitch, how to find the “blind spots” and challenge their thinking, and how to ensure financial arrangements were well structured and attractive to investors.

In terms of financial support “we received funding from AWS for a jumpstart – which helped to scale our venture. And additional funding for Kreativwirtschaftsscheck – to implement innovative elements in our on-line shop to improve the customer experience.”

The best advice is to “inform yourself as early as you can about potential funding and get as much help as you can – Impact Hub Vienna is a great spot for that.”


AWS-logoWhat is AWS?

AWS stands for Austria Wirtschaftsservice and it supports incubators and accelerators as well as incubated start-ups. The aim of the collaboration between IRP and AWS is to strengthen and expand the program, resulting in a higher annual volume of investment ready start-ups and international expansion.


But wait there is more ….

What does the future hold for Erdbeerwoche? “We will continue with our mission to break the bloody taboo and revolutionize the feminine hygiene market until all 2 billion menstruating women in the world do not feel ashamed about their period and have access to sustainable feminine hygiene products.” It is an ambitious mission and one that we have supported from infancy through programs at Impact Hub Vienna.

erdbeerwoche Nachhaltige Frauenhygiene Mainstream

 

Are you ready to take your product or service to the next level – just like Erdbeerwoche? The Investment Ready Program is currently looking for ventures. Check out our website to find out how to apply.

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Jennifer Cornick Freelance journalist and blogger for various publications in Vienna. When I am not writing, I can generally be found with a book (or anything with words on it - even cereal boxes). Photo Credit: Aneta Pawlik

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