It’s not only Millennials doing the disrupting. Meet a Xennial who has made her riches from disrupting the bottom-end markets.
Periods, pee and poop.
Is that a disruptive enough statement for you?
Well, that’s the impressive CV of Xennial (a cusper of Gen X & Millennial) social entrepreneur, Miki Agrawal who is the current She-E-O of US company, Tushy. Tushy make easy to install, affordable bidets and Agrawal’s mission is to clean the collective poop from millions of American asses in a more environmentally friendly way.
Bidets, originating from France in the 16TH century, are used in many countries across the globe, and are, arguably, a much more hygienic way to clean your bottom-end. Agrawal wants Americans to understand this and have a go. Her company manufactures bidets that you can attach to your own toilet really easily and has been introducing them to her market at ‘poop-up shops’ in Manhattan. This is the absolute epitome of market disruption. And it’s not Miki’s first rodeo.
An investment banker at 23, Miki Argawal was working across from the World Trade Towers on September 11. It was that day the two towers came down she had a calling to change the world. On that day Miki slept through her alarm for the first time in her life and it was a miracle she wasn’t going to ignore. From then on, she made it her mission to discover how she could use her unique creativity and disruptive soul to make some serious social changes.
Like most Millennials, Miki was looking for work that aligned with her values. In 2003, with a newly discovered gluten intolerance, her first start-up was a gluten-free pizza shop in Manhattan called Wild, which eventually became a chain. Not a big deal, you’re thinking? Well, this was in 2003, when eating food without gluten wasn’t really a thing––especially pizza, especially in the home of the “home slice” New York City. But she went for it because she had a need for it herself which meant someone else did too, and, from what she could see, no one else was doing it. A disruptive move, a fresh market.
Miki Agrawal prides herself on disruptive innovation–– taking a new market and replacing an existing market. And her next venture was an even bigger disruptor. Period undies were the product Agrawal’s next company, THINX.
Yup, period undies. Not something we talk about openly still. Unfortunately. Despite half of the entire population of the globe requiring feminine hygiene products every month for over 30 years of their lives, the market for these products hadn’t changed much since the introduction of tampons in 1929.
Hashtag opportunity––Miki would, and does say.
The idea came to Miki after an experience with her twin sister, who got her period while the two of them were running a three-legged race. Miki’s sister had to run the race with blood dripping down her leg, followed by a race to the bathroom to rinse out her pants, a scene all too familiar for women, yet never talked about. Miki was inspired and came up with the prototype for THINX––period-proof underwear that is super-absorbent, odour-fighting, moisture-wicking, and leak-resistant. Undies that Millennial women want. Since THINX came on the market there has been a bunch of new women’s hygiene products flood the market and it has become less of an “eww” thing, and more of a “yew” thing for Millennial women.
Who’d’a thinked it?!
Agrawal’s ideas are for Millennials, essentially. She knows there’s a whole generation craving change and wanting to be a part of the change. She spoke about this phenomenon and her mission to disrupt and make products for the disruptors at the launch of her second book, Disrupt-her.
“Over these last 15 years, so many people were like, ‘No one’s going to buy your products.’ ‘No one’s going to eat gluten-free pizza—it probably tastes like shit.’ ‘No one’s going to bleed in their underwear. “It took a long time to get investment in all of the business ideas, and it turns out that society was wrong. People did want to try these things.”
She told Glamour magazine recently,
“This generation and the next is not interested in doing the things that people did 100 years ago. Not interested.”
And this is why I, a fellow Xennial, love her so much.
The other very Millennial quality of all Miki’s venture is the ‘give back’ element of her products. With Tushy she gives some of the profits to Samagra a company in her father’s home country, that builds clean latrine systems across India. With THINX she teamed up with United for Access Campaign and youth activists at PERIOD, ‘the world’s largest youth-run non-profit dedicated to advancing menstrual equity for young people across the US.’
Her desire for social change, her commitment to it and her fearless ownership of the “taboo space”. Sure, she has made some mistakes, but like any true leader, she’s taken that as part of her journey and used it for self-improvement. Another Millennial trait.
Miki Agrawal says in her TED talk, ‘iteration makes perfection’, and I totally agree. You really can’t push boundaries without being out of line sometimes. You make a bold move and then realise it doesn’t work for some reason you iterate. Alter it slightly, don’t be afraid, until it’s perfect. Nothing is ever perfect the first time you push a boundary. If that were the case, we’d only have ever had one iPhone.
And it’s here, between the lines that social change happens. The desire to change things, your commitment to the process of iteration teamed with the authenticity to hold space in your new market will be the qualities of our future leaders that earlier generations will eventually admire. Millennial leaders.
These are also the kinds of work environment our Millennials are seeking. In my independent studies of Millennials in the workplace, 90% of the 1000 Millennials I asked said that a company’s values are either ‘important’ or ‘very important’ for them when looking for work. And 63% said a company’s ‘community investment’ counted.
“People crave authenticity because it’s just the truth. I mean, why hide the truth? Integrity is really all about what you’re thinking, feeling and saying all aligning. If you’re thinking something or feeling something and not saying it, you’re not in alignment.”
And this is the key Xennial value all Millennials understand.