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For many women, the Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) is a dreaded inevitability. The symptoms may range from mild to more pronounced and include cramps, headache, irritability and distractedness. To make matters worse, the fear of “accidents”or period stains makes many women feel constricted and negatively affects their confidence levels.
Lincup, a pioneering Vietnamese company credited with introducing menstrual cups to the local market, promises to make menstruation less of a nightmare.
Lincup is a silicone menstrual cup produced by Lintimate, a women’s healthcare company launched in June 2016. Bach Dieu Linh, the CEO, explains that the name of her company, Lintimate, is a combination of two words: “lin” is an acronym for Live Innovative Now, while “intimate” implies closeness.
The words perfectly sum up the brand’s mission–to deliver breakthrough, caring solutions for women’s intimate needs. After more than two years on the market, the product has received a lot of positive feedback from consumers.
Lintimate’s founder and CEO Bach Dieu Linh was born and raised in Australia. After studying architecture at the MIT in the United States and a turn working at the Institute of Architecture, she chose Vietnam to pursue her career.
Linh’s long-cherished ambition has always been to start a private enterprise offering practical solutions to everyday problems. In Vietnam she saw an opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to the community by means of a pioneering product that could drastically improve the quality of life.
Meeting Linh at her Saigon office, Vietcetera asks the founder about her goals, challenges and vision.
How did you come up with the idea of Lincup menstrual cup?
The idea came by chance. One of my friends in the U.S. came across a menstrual cup and wondered what exactly its function was. The menstrual cup had been a common product in the U.S. by then, but it was still a new concept for Asian and Vietnamese women.
When I was still in university, I heard about the cup and its outstanding advantages compared to other functional products. Menstrual cups are more comfortable than sanitary pads and tampons. They are reusable during two or three years, as well as reducing the number of pads and tampons discharged into the environment.
I realized that the menstrual cup was a great solution to eliminate the feeling of diffidence on special days, and to help modern girls be confident and active.
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Were there any obstacles you had to face while establishing Lintimate?
Going back to Vietnam to start a business was a risky decision. I was not born and raised here, nor had the knowledge about Vietnamese customers and the market, so basically I had to learn from the beginning. As I operated the entire project by myself, I had lots of difficulties maintaining stock and managing the cash flow.
But the biggest challenge was to introduce to Vietnamese women a completely new menstrual product and to convince them to use it. Changing the established consumption habits is challenging for the domestic market pioneers like Lintimate.
When the first customers realized the advantages of Lincup, however, they introduced it to people around them. Hence, the number of customers using Lincup began to skyrocket. During the launch in 2016, we sold 2,000 Lincups after six months. Two years later, the consumption reached 40,000 cups each month. Before, we ordered the product from the U.S. every three months, but when the demand increased, we had to do restock monthly.
Knowing this might be a risky decision, what motivated you to continue to develop the idea?
Through market research I learned that there were no manufacturers of menstrual cups in Vietnam at the time. And menstrual cups hand-carried from Western countries were not always suitable for Asian female bodies.
My initial goal was to found a startup to improve the quality of life for the community. And that goal became an inspiration for me to persist in the early stages when I was facing many obstacles. By using Lincup, I hope the Vietnamese women feel relieved from the monthly inconvenience.
Founding Lintimate was a risky, but not rash decision. We remain cautious in researching markets, customer behaviors and the products, as well as identifying long-term goals. Above all, we are being persistent in our original ideals.
Compared to the Western brands, what are the innovations of Lincup menstrual cup?
Finding a qualified medical silicone manufacturer was a challenge. After a long time searching, we finally found Dow Corning, an ISO-certified silicone manufacturer in the U.S.
Then it took us another six months discussing with the research and development team to finalize a design that best fits Asian female body. Undergoing three rounds of testing under the supervision of gynecologists and design experts, the final product achieved the quality standards set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Compared to Western menstrual cups such as Divacup, Lincup has been modified to fit Asian female bodies with a round and non-spill rim, making insertion and removal much easier. Made of smooth and non-crease texture, the body of the cup is super soft and flexible, guaranteeing long-lasting comfort. Lincup’s capacity is 34ml, offering longer protection. It has a unique water droplet shape that is meant to better fit inside Asian women’s vaginas.
What is the biggest concern of your customers?
The customers have little understanding of menstrual cups. They wonder about the benefits of using them and if switching to menstrual cups will become a “turning point”. They are concerned about the material–allergies or risks associated with putting a silicone cup inside their bodies. They also ask how to use Lincup, how to clean it properly, or whether there is any difficulty in urinating while using it.
As Lincup is a new concept that challenges the perception of customers about a specialized product, we always try our best to answer all customers’ questions in the most detailed and clear way, including on social media. We have all the data and certifications to reassure our customers that our product is safe to use.
What are your plans for Lincup and Lintimate?
Our goal is to position Lintimate as a social enterprise focusing on improving the quality of life for our community, especially for women. They still need a lot of support and instruction, from health and sex education to health protection and women’s rights. Whenever we have the opportunity, we strive to work with community organizations to promote sustainable values and empower Vietnamese women.
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