08 May Getting Ready for a Visit from Aunt Flo
Seeing construction workers laboring outside one hot day, she thought a lemonade stand might make a successful venture, but then it dawned on her that she had never seen her dad—also a construction worker—drink lemonade.
“What I did see my dad drinking a lot of was beer,” she says, “so at seven years old I was raiding my dad’s beer fridge, bringing this beer out to the side of the road, and selling it for $5 a can. That was the first $5 that I made.”
That entrepreneurial spirit kicked in again years later when Coder got her period unexpectedly at a public event and was caught off guard without a tampon. A company that stocked commercial bathrooms with menstrual products would provide a much-needed service, she thought, and pitched the idea at a small-business pitch competition. Her selling point: “Toilet paper is offered for free in public spaces, so why aren’t tampons and pads?” It turns out both her target audience and her investors agreed. In 2016, Aunt Flow had found its niche.
Today more than 400 companies and schools across the United States and Canada buy Aunt Flow products and make them available in their organizations. Aunt Flow has also raised $2.1 million in six rounds of venture capital funding. Coder is the first to tell you that the path to success has not been easy. When raising the last $1.5 million, Coder spoke with 86 investors, attended 102 different meetings, and spent more than 150 hours explaining why the world was a better place with Aunt Flow.
For Coder, Aunt Flow is not just a business idea; it is a mission. For every 10 tampons and pads that are sold, Aunt Flow donates one to Period.org, a nonprofit that provides menstrual products to those who can’t afford to buy them.
“The ultimate goal is for every public bathroom to be stocked with Aunt Flow,” Coder says. “Once I know that I can walk in to a public bathroom and Aunt Flow will be there, then I can stop!”