Chaste Inegbedion, founder, Sanicle, a Femtech company founded in 2021 to leverage his personal commitment to address the lack of access to menstrual products in the U.S. through a unique approach to problem-solving and innovation, with involving men in the menstrual health conversation. In this interview, he spoke about the industry; the profitability of investment in menstrual health, among other related issues. Excerpts by SEYI JOHN SALAU:
How would you rate the Femtech industry compared to other segment of the tech ecosystem?
With half the population experiencing a period every month, it is still a topic that men have difficulty discussing and understanding, which leads to widespread misinformation and cultivates a culture of shame. It’s time to open up and be upfront and frank about what periods mean, in school, university and the workplace so that we tackle period myths and everyone can appreciate the health concerns they can bring. In the last decade, we have seen a rise in businesses leveraging technology to offer products and services dedicated to improving women’s health. This new market segment has been dubbed Femtech and has the potential to reach $50bn by 2025. My story is a reminder that diversity and inclusion are essential for innovation and progress. As we create a more equitable and just world, it is essential to celebrate and support the voices and perspectives of underrepresented groups, like Black product managers and entrepreneurs, and to prioritise the well-being and success of all individuals and communities.
How did your entrepreneur journey start and how would you describe the experience so far?
After being unemployed for some time, I decided to start a Femtech company called Sanicle in 2021 to help women and children access menstrual products in the U.S. with a unique twist of involving fathers and men in the conversation. My experience in helping women and children in Nigeria, my home country gave me valuable insights into the challenges of access to menstrual products. I could recognise the need for a fresh approach in the U.S. by involving fathers and men in the conversation. This is as I hoped to break down the taboo surrounding menstruation and create a more inclusive and supportive environment for women.
The pandemic brought many challenges and hardships for people worldwide but has also inspired innovation and new ways of thinking about old problems; what is the key take away for you?
As we continue to navigate the pandemic and its aftermath, let us remember to support innovative ideas and fresh approaches to old problems and prioritise our well-being and our families as we pursue our dreams. I realised how crucial it is to prioritise one’s well-being and the well-being of one’s family. My unique approach to addressing the lack of access to menstrual products in the U.S. was supported by my willingness to move to Tulsa to pursue opportunities in tech and innovation, which was inspiring.
A year after you started Sanicle, you moved to Oklahoma for better opportunities; how was that experience?
In 2022, I came across a programme called Tulsa Remote and decided to apply. The programme offered a unique opportunity for tech, innovation, and entrepreneurship in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in the US, becoming a hub for these industries. My wife and I took the chance and moved to Tulsa, hoping to find new opportunities and pursue our dreams. The experience in Tulsa was fulfilling for us, and I must admit to enjoying the energy of change around us. However, I still felt the growing pains of running a company and providing for the family. To address our financial needs, I took a well-paying product management job that paid six figures. However, the job brought its own set of challenges. However, the journey is a reminder that pursuing one’s dreams and taking risks can come with challenges and difficulties.
What is your experience like working as a person of colour in the U.S?
In addition to starting Sanicle and pursuing opportunities in tech and innovation, I also work as a product manager and published author of ‘The Period Passport’. One of the many virtues of the Period Passport Book is to move beyond a sterile debate between advocates of Dads with Daughters, and it’s even relatable for someone like the actor Sylvester Stallone, who is famous for the Rocky and Rambo franchises, his three daughters, and those who regard Period Poverty as a myth that has never existed. If you want a short, readable guide to a field, you feel you need to know more about and an argument to react to, this is the book for you. Am also writing a new book, ‘A Product Manager Kind of Blackman,’ a memoir about my experiences as a Black product manager in the tech industry.
What is your new book all about?
In the book ‘A Product Manager Kind of Blackman,’ I share insights on navigating the challenges of being a person of colour in a predominantly white industry and strategies for overcoming obstacles and achieving success. Through my candid personal stories, I shed light on the experiences of Black professionals in the tech industry, and offer valuable lessons for anyone pursuing a career in product management or technology. My experiences as a product manager and social entrepreneur have shaped my unique approach to problem-solving and innovation, with my commitment to addressing the lack of access to menstrual products in the U.S. and involving men in the conversation is a testament to my dedication to create a more inclusive and supportive society.