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Tempo startup aims to create a leak-free tampon

Engineering class project turned full-fledged business draws on product design and fluid mechanics to address a common complaint

Courtesy of Amanda Calabrese

Amanda Calabrese ’19, Greta Meyer ’19 and Elijah Zenger ’19 are on a mission to create a more comfortable and sustainable leak-free tampon. Their idea, which originated in the “Technology Entrepreneurship” class last fall, quickly gained attention from professors and funders, and will, they hope, turn into a marketable product soon.

Tempo’s founders say poorly-designed tampons distract those on their periods. As a result, their goal is to “even the playing field,” in Calabrese’s words.

As elite athletes, both Calabrese, an ocean lifeguard, and Meyer, a former D1 lacrosse player, realized they and their teammates worried about leaky tampons. Players desperately hoped they wouldn’t bleed through their clothes and sometimes had to step away to change.

The co-founders say neither elite athletes nor busy individuals at work should have to think about their tampons when there are more important issues at stake.

“You don’t see Cristiano Ronaldo checking his tampon in the middle of his game,” Calabrese said.

After conducting a series of extensive interviews, Calabrese, Meyer and Zenger identified leaks as the most common tampon complaint. To eliminate the problem, Tempo plans to use cotton with a spiral thread pattern. The threads in current tampons run vertically, which allows liquid to flow straight downward.

“A lot of women say, look, my tampon is leaking before it’s even reached its max absorption,” Calabrese said of the design flaw. Once Tempo reorients the threads in a helix shape, however, “the fluid will follow the thread direction in this spiral path, which takes longer to reach the bottom of the tampon and also creates more surface area.”

Gaining FDA approval will be a long process, so Tempo plans to begin user testing in the United Kingdom, where “internal medical devices” including tampons are less strictly regulated. They are currently working on prototypes so they can start testing their design.

The team plans to begin by marketing their products as a subscription service in August or September 2019 in the UK. Those who sign up will receive a certain number of tampons per month, then Tempo will monitor what users think of the product and how many people keep versus cancel their subscriptions.

Tempo will participate in the StartX accelerator program this summer to further develop their product and business plan.

This article has been updated to reflect the company’s rebranding. Tempo was originally called Tampro.

Contact Jasmine Kerber at jkerber ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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