Interview by Marija Butkovic @MarijaButkovic
Frances Tang is the founder and CEO of come&gone, a product made to help vaginas with after-sex clean up. Her mission is to normalize and solve, the everyday awkward and taboo encounters (with a dose of humor). She has her BA in Communications from UCSD, resides in Southern California, and is definitely a multipotentialite!
Come&gone was born out of a really, really personal problem. I was personally so tired of tactically rolling off the bed, sprinting to the bathroom, hovering over the toilet, and using gobs of toilet paper in an attempt to clean myself up after sex. Every single time I was stuck wiping up what felt like an endless amount of aftermath, I would wonder to myself, why is there no solution for this?! ...And the distinct feeling of gushing, hours later?? THE WORST.
After hundreds of google searches and mounting frustration, I decided to do something about it. The more I spoke with other women about my problem, the product, and how ridiculous I thought it was that there was no hack, I realized I wasn’t alone. Many women just felt too awkward and embarrassed to talk about it. But, it just so happens that I am the one friend who lacks a filter, has an outrageous sense of humor, and was too lazy to just “deal with it” :)
Unlike wipes and towels, I wanted a solution that would remedy the problem at the source. Several iterations and 1 startup accelerator later, come&gone officially came to life!
When did all start and do you have other members in your team?
Come&gone was something I had rolling around in my head for a long time, but I didn’t believe this “funny” idea was viable. I stumbled my way through a few other startups and one day, after another startup had come to a half, I quietly voiced my idea to a few friends. The excitement, enthusiasm, and support from that group fuelled me to start truly thinking about the product and solution in new light - as a business that addresses a very real problem.
Currently I am a solo founder, with the hope of expanding the team with others soon!
How long did it take you to be where you are now?
About a year. While I was getting the company off the ground, I was running a wedding photography business at the same time. I still occasionally shoot weddings, but not many of my clients know about come&gone!
What was the biggest obstacle?
Learning to talk about the product in a way people can relate to and understand. In a world where sex is taboo, talking about the messy, sticky, aftermath of sex is even more taboo. I’ve had to learn how to broach the topic in a way that allows listeners to feel comfortable (and offends the least number of people in the room!). I’ve also had to figure out how to describe the product and process in a way that will shift perceptions of how things have always been. It has been incredibly challenging, yet rewarding at the same time.
What are your biggest achievements to date?
Seeing my ideas come to life, in a physical form. Meeting women who tell me this was something they thought they just had to live with, and are grateful for a solution. Getting feedback about the product becoming a bedroom staple. And lastly, witnessing the impact we are having by opening up the initial conversation into topics many women have previously never felt comfortable discussing.
What are the challenges of being an entrepreneur in the niche you are in? How about being a female founder / entrepreneur?
Femtech is a relatively new niche, and still very taboo. For these reasons, a lot of the information and advice for startups/growing a business doesn’t apply. Many founders have had to find alternative ways to market, fundraise, and form partnerships. As a female founder working on a solution for women, fundraising can be even more challenging as a majority of investors are men. I’ve also found it hard to be taken seriously as a female founder, and one who is working on this specific problem. Is it funny? Can be. Awkward? Yes. A huge, untapped market? Absolutely.
Is #WomenInTech movement important to you and if yes, why?
Yes! In short, women bring a different perspective. Our experiences are different than men, which allows us to pinpoint different problems, and find unique solutions. This is impactful to half the population so I believe it’s very important!
What is the most important piece of advice you can give to all female founders and female entrepreneurs out there?
Like many others, I tend to over analyze and want things to be “perfect”. I can rationalize myself in or out of any decision. I’m learning to let this go as much as possible and just do the thing. Actions can be taken more than once (even if it doesn’t feel like it!). As Lemony Snicket said, “If we wait until we're ready, we'll be waiting for the rest of our lives.”
What will be the key trends in the health tech and sex tech industry in the next 5 years and where do you see it heading?
The combination of more female founders and tech growth mean that there will be far more innovation by women, for women. Problems that women have been facing for decades will finally get tech enabled solutions, and these companies will begin to become the norm. Not only will there be solutions, I’m hoping society as a whole becomes more comfortable with “female” oriented topics!
Who are your 3 inspirational women in health tech and sex tech?
Miki Agrawal - Thinx, Tushy
Cindy Gallop - Make Love Not Porn
Jameela Jamil - I Weigh
Social media handles
This interview was conducted by Marija Butkovic, Digital Marketing and PR strategist, founder and CEO of Women of Wearables. She regularly writes and speaks on topics of wearable tech, fashion tech, IoT, entrepreneurship and diversity. Visit marijabutkovic.co.uk or follow Marija on Twitter @MarijaButkovic.