Despite being a necessity for women, tampon design has remained largely unchanged for almost 100 years. Former Ferolyn fellow, Greta Meyer, together with her cofounder, Amanda Calabrese, aim to change that with their company Sequel and its newly designed tampon.
As competitive athletes and product-design majors at Stanford University, they focused their senior project on creating the product they wish they’d had. The result is the spiral tampon, designed to absorb fluid more evenly to stop leaks, which recently received FDA approval as a medical device.
An exciting year full of progress
This past year Sequel has pivoted from the planning phase to operations and execution. “It’s been an exciting challenge, and we’re really eager to turn this corner and focus on commercialization,” Greta says.
One key milestone was automating its manufacturing via a partnership with Israel-based Albaad, which is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of feminine hygiene products and wet wipes. Although Sequel has its own engineers and proprietary manufacturing techniques, it was helpful to align with a leader in the space, rather than having to start from scratch.
Greta sees the benefits of being hands-on in all phases of product development. “You learn so much more and get so much done when you’re in person with the engineers, manufacturing facility and even the biocompatibility labs,” she says.
In anticipation of the product launch, Sequel is concentrating on building its team, setting up frameworks for gathering feedback and raising more money. Now that it has received FDA approval, the team expects to launch the product at the end of the year. Initially the tampon will be sold through its website and social media channels, including Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. They are currently assembling a waiting list.
An exciting networking opportunity
Always eager to cultivate relationships with others in the healthcare space, Greta was invited to attend the Aspen Ideas: Health Festival as an Aspen Ideas Health Fellow in June. This premiere event for health visionaries is sponsored by the renowned Aspen Institute and headlined by luminaries that included the U.S. Surgeon General and the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Greta participated in the women’s health track, where one of her favorite sessions featured Chelsea Clinton and Chanel Porchia-Albert, founder and CEO of Ancient Song, who led a panel on disparities in the U.S. maternity industry. Another memorable session discussed how the United States can use healthcare to promote diplomacy, for example by providing vaccines or sponsoring Doctors Without Borders projects.
To become a fellow, Greta was first nominated then applied to be selected. “The impetus behind the Aspen Fellows is to involve younger people who can contribute to the conversations and also challenge the more established attendees,” Greta said, adding that the organizers did a great job including participants from diverse backgrounds. In fact, she was one of the only company founders in attendance, with many of the other Fellows affiliated with nonprofits or advocacy networks.
“Coming from San Francisco where most health innovators are immersed in a startup or venture capital, it was fascinating to hear the perspective of the other attendees from other parts of the industry,” she said. She intends to nominate a fellow entrepreneur next year. “It was an amazing experience for anyone who is open to engaging and contributing and I look forward to sharing my experience other Ferolyn Fellows and graduates,” she says