Vyld - The crowdunding for the Seaweed Revolution
We had the chance to interview two amazing women and Tech4Eva Alumni 2021: Ines Schiller, CEO andFounder & Melanie Schichan, CMO of Vyld
Vyld develops radically sustainable, ocean-friendly and healthy period products from seaweed.
Vyld was founded in Berlin in 2021 as a profit-for-purpose company in steward-ownership by Ines Schiller. Earlier this year, Vyld closed its first pre-seed funding round, led by FemTech and impact investors The Case for Her and Purpose Ventures, as well as several business angels, including Sebastian Klein (Neue Narrative, Blinkist) and Christian Kraus (RECUP). To explore further avenues of alternative funding, Vyld launched a crowdfunding campaign to further develop the world's first tampon made from seaweed ('Kelpon') and involve users in the development from the beginning.
Vyld's innovative products made from seaweed prove that user-centered product excellence, sustainability and empowerment can go hand in hand. Not only do they help menstruators overcome the social stigma associated with periods, but they also pioneer a circular economy in harmony with nature. Vyld's goal is an 'Algaeverse' of products that establish algae as a sustainable resource in the mainstream and actively contribute to ocean regeneration, as well as CO2 reduction. In this way, Vyld helps accelerate the establishment of a sustainable marine permaculture and contributes to at least 12 of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals.
The ‘Kelpon’, the world’s first tampon made from seaweed
With the world’s first tampon made from seaweed, the ‘Kelpon’, they are using one of nature’s greatest gifts for (re-) connecting menstruators with nature. Like many other people, they are very concerned about the current way humanity treats the natural world and with Vyld and their ‘Algaeverse’ they want to lead as an example how to do business in a regenerative way within the circles and boundaries of the living world.
The idea for starting the ‘Algaeverse’ with period products came very naturally, because seaweed has exactly the qualities they need for them: it is healthy, sustainable and comes with a natural absorbency.
As ocean lovers and menstruators, existing period products have not convinced them. Many contain plastics that are harmful to both the human body and the environment, and alarmingly often they end up in the oceans after being used. Current products advertised as more sustainable either often can't keep their “green” promises when people take a closer look or are not optimal in their everyday use. Like many other menstruators, they noticed that the materials tend to dry out the mucous membranes and other alternatives such as menstrual cups are often not too practical, because people need access to running water. So, the idea was born to develop period products that enable menstrual care that is healthy for both the human body and the planet. And Kelpons are only the beginning, later they will diversify into everything that needs healthy absorption: from pads to baby diapers to incontinence care, a variety of products for everyone who cares as much about ocean and body health as they do.
With their crowdfunding, they want to include the menstruators in the development of the Kelpon right from the start. They will use the money to optimize the performance of the product and bring it to production. With the start level of 50,000€ they will be able to further develop the existing prototype into a completely plastic-free and functional prototype. However, they are aiming for 100,000€ because with that they will be able to produce the very first “beta version” Kelpon batch. Their supporters will then be able to test them and Vyld will use their valuable feedback for further improvements. This is a huge challenge and every contribution counts! Until 30.09.2022 you can support Vyld and their charitable mission on Startnext.
Industry Challenges and Vyld’s Achievements
The period product industry is dominated by global brands and there hasn’t been real innovation for a long time, and if so, inside closed R&D departments and not in the public domain. That’s why besides their in house team they are working with various specialized research institutes throughout Europe who have deep industry knowledge. Vyld has already been able to develop the first prototypes in this way and successfully test and benchmark them against existing products. The next goal, which they want to achieve with the crowdfunding, is to develop a Kelpon that can actually be tested by menstruators.
Besides producing the world’s first Kelpons on standard industry machinery, Vyld was able to prove that their seaweed fibers preserve the vaginal microbiome. In a scientific study conducted by the leading independent microbiome-friendly certification company, MyMicrobiome, they saw that their prototypes outperformed the conventional products. An intact vaginal microbiome is crucial to ward off pathogens. So, their Kelpons will be able to make an important contribution to better menstrual health. Now Vyld has started their crowdfunding campaign to optimize their prototype and enable a user test.
How was a program such as Tech4Eva useful to you?
Programs like Tech4Eva are a super important contribution to gender equality. Female health has been neglected for much too long and every support that founders of FemTech start-ups can get will help to close the gender health gap. Innovation in the field needs to be supported, promoted and made visible at all levels. We are very grateful for the support we receive from Tech4Eva and the mutually supportive community of fellow FemTech pioneers!
Ines Schiller, Founder & CEO
Ines Schiller is a certified marine guide, social entrepreneur (FOGMA, Mein Grundeinkommen, CellAg Germany), screenwriter/film producer (LOVE STEAKS,TIGER GIRL), philosopher and neuroscientist, with a passion for feminism and biotechnology. As an ocean lover, saving the oceans is close to her heart; as a menstruator, she finally wants a product that is sustainable and that she can truly rely on. She founded Vyld because she believes seaweed has the potential to inspire a rethinking of our production systems.
Melanie Schichan, Head of Tampon
Melanie Schichan combines degrees in business administration and sociology with a focus on gender studies and is an experienced new work organizational developer.
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#seaweedrevolution #vyldnessisanecessity #oceansavingperiod