Behind every problem is an entrepreneur who is trying to solve it. That is how Frances Tang, the female founder and CEO of Come&Gone, has disrupted the sextech industry. The problem she set out to solve is one that can be slightly awkward to discuss… especially when pitching to investors and raising capital.
Frances joins Her Life, By Design to share her experience. She discusses how she came up with an idea to solve a taboo problem that most women encounter. Listen in as she explains how Come&Gone started as a problem-solving idea that ultimately ended up disrupting the sextech industry.
How this Female Founder Disrupted the Sextech Industry
What is Come&Gone?
Come&Gone is an after-sex cleanup tool for women. The idea for Come&Gone came to Frances after growing frustrated with the cleanup process after sex. Tired of going 24-48 hours with post-sex dripping and gushing, she turned to Google in search of a solution. However, the best answer Google could offer was the far too common “sacrificial towel” that only solved the external issue.
Through her research, Frances knew that she wasn’t the only woman experiencing this problem. And thus, the idea for Come&Gone — a medical-grade sponge with a handle to help absorb any excess post-sex fluid — was born.
From an Idea to Creation
Frances admits that the process of transforming Come&Gone from an idea into a physical product was a slow journey. After several Google search results later, she realized that there wasn’t any real solution to the problem she was dealing with. Knowing she couldn’t be the only woman experiencing this issue, she took matters into her own hands.
Having worked in several industries and jobs in the past, Frances got the inspiration for Come&Gone from her job as a baker. The idea for the product was to absorb any remaining fluids post-sex. Similar to how bakers used spatulas to scoop up any remaining batter off a bowl.
The prototype for Come&Gone started as a spatula. And after lots of trial and error and studying other feminine care products, it evolved into a porous sponge with a handle that resembles a tampon. Frances conducted her own extensive research into details such as absorption rates, which made it much easier for manufacturers creating her product.
In the episode, Frances discusses how her prior jobs in several unrelated positions ultimately helped her with Come&Gone’s creation process. She reminds all aspiring entrepreneurs that “with every job, you can take skills onto your next job. It might not be in the same industry or you might not have the same title, but there is always something you can take away.”
Gaining Confidence Through Little Wins and Failures
One of the most common mindset blocks many female entrepreneurs face is imposter syndrome and the idea of perfectionism. Frances addresses this common trait in the episode, “as females, we tend to want things to be perfect before we go out and do them.” In return, our confidence levels tend to pale in comparison to our male counterparts.
Getting accepted into Grid110’s no cost, no equity accelerator program, gave Frances the extra boost she needed, “little wins are what gave me the confidence to move forward.” Through the program, Frances was able to grow Come&Gone from prototype to product.
She learned valuable lessons like the right way to pitch a sensitive product like hers. But this lesson didn’t come without failure. She initially pitched Come&Gone with statistics and facts about how big the market was. Not only did the pitch fall flat, but half the room was left in shock and embarrassment, and the other half was laughing. That was when she realized providing numbers was not the right way to introduce her product.
Instead, she started connecting with her audience by sharing her personal experience and frustrations, which lead her to create Come&Gone. Frances shares with Her Life, By Design listeners, the importance of learning how to pitch and talk about your product. This, in essence, is the backbone of marketing.
Breaking Rules and Going Viral
Frances initially struggled with marketing because Come&Gone was the first product of its kind. Without demonstration, many women thought the product was simply a wipe or a suction machine. So she broke the rules and went against the advice she received from her accelerator program, ordering 20,000 units of product.
Frances knew that in order for other women to understand her product, she needed to be demonstrating it. Although Come&Gone solves an issue, people weren’t going to magically start purchasing without any marketing effort. So she posted her website to a few Facebook groups, asking women for feedback. That was when a writer from Huffington Post approached her to write an article on Come&Gone.
Immediately after that article was published, Frances saw hundreds of orders come in. She also found numerous articles mentioning her product in publications from the New York Post to Cosmopolitan. Come&Gone had an incredible but accidental prelaunch and the product went viral through unplanned digital marketing stints.
The Process of Raising Capital
“If anyone is thinking about launching anything, you want to make sure that people want it and will put money down for it,” Frances advises entrepreneurs. Knowing that there was a need for the product wasn’t enough when it came to raising capital.
Frances needed to make sure that her business could scale and that the market was big enough before she approached investors. Having orders, sales, and a track record to prove that there was a high demand for her product was crucial. Being the only product of its kind, the market research process for Come&Gone was very difficult.
Frances ended up pulling numbers from the CDC about topics such as relationship status, marriage, and birth control methods other than condoms. She conducted run and gun surveys with her highly engaged customers and figured out a rough market size.
Her effort and hard work were successful when she could ensure Come&Gone’s ability to capture part, if not all of the market — giving investors peace of mind.
Frances dives into detail about Come&Gone’s process of raising capital. She discusses the reactions she received from male investors and finding the right partnerships for a female-focused product. Additionally, she walks listeners through how closing a seed round of funding has changed her business by laying the groundwork and infrastructure to scale.
The Future of Awkward Essentials
Come&Gone is a part of Frances’ larger parent company called Awkward Essentials. Awkward Essentials’ goal is to fill the gaps by providing solutions to problems people aren’t really willing to talk about. Frances is changing the way women deal with post-sex hygiene, but it takes proper education.
She noticed that there is a severe lack of sexual education in the United States through her journey with Come&Gone. Come&Gone has entered uncharted territory within the hygiene industry. It solves a problem that is uncomfortable to discuss but desperately needed.
Awkward Essentials and Come&Gone went from a one-woman e-commerce venture to a massive business that raised venture capital and closed investor funding in March. Frances and Awkward Essentials are out to solve problems too many women face quietly. Tune into this episode to hear how this female founder disrupted the sextech industry in a major way.
Come&Gone’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/getcomeandgone/
Shop Come&Gone: https://getcomeandgone.com/
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