Lauren started researching alternative products in 2014 and learned that tampons and menstrual cups were invented in the 1930s. She tried over 30 period products from all over the world, only to discover that tampons, pads, and menstrual cups are made by the same handful of manufacturers but sold under different brands. She felt frustrated by the lack of innovation for women’s health. She started to talking to other women to find out if she was alone.
Most women she talked to shared that they wished they didn’t have a period at all. But most didn’t believe that a different product could make their period better.
She started hosting focus group dinners at her home and invited her friend, Panpan Wang, who was working in venture capital, to listen in. Panpan became “hooked” on Lauren’s idea for FLEX when he heard women talking about how they blamed their own bodies for uncomfortable periods. He pledged to help and joined her as a formal advisor.
After about 18 months of research, Lauren founded The Flex Company in 2015 with a belief that women’s lives could be better if their period week felt the same as every other week -- and that its products should be created in collaboration with customers to address their needs.
Lauren would go on to be accepted into Y Combinator in 2016. It was then that she realized that she did not want to continue as a solo founder, and invited Panpan and Erika Jensen, (who’d been working as a contractor) to join her as cofounders.
While in Y Combinator, The Flex Company closed an acquisition of Softdisc, its sole competitor and only other maker of the menstrual disc, in order to secure a proprietary manufacturing line. This allowed the company to gain 20 years of R&D research overnight, which they used to produce the FLEX menstrual disc using newer materials for a more comfortable fit.
In July 2018, The Flex Company acquired a pre-launch startup, Keela (now known as FLEX Cup™). Its cofounders Jane Hartman Adamé and Andy Miller had redesigned a menstrual cup to be more inclusive. Its patented ReleaseRing™ design aids in easy removal, similar to pulling a tampon string.
The Flex Company continues to invest in R&D for breakthrough new products and is committed to its vision of delivering life-changing period products to people everywhere.
Today Lauren leads The Flex Company as President and CEO. Panpan plays an active role on the Board of Directors, along with Grady Burnette from BOW Capital. Lauren and Panpan were married in December 2018.