Technology drives innovation at eco-friendly feminine hygiene startup joni after winning TELUS small business contest
(Above) Co-founders of eco-friendly feminine hygiene company joni, Linda Biggs and Jayesh Vekariya, say winning the TELUS #StandWithOwners contest last year was a 'gamechanger' as it helped the company expand.
Past TELUS #StandWithOwners winners look back at program as 2023 contest comes to a close.
Eco-friendly feminine hygiene products may not sound like a high-tech business, but technology is key to the success of innovative Canadian startup, joni.
“We’re on a mission to make sustainable period care accessible to everyone who needs it,” says joni co-founder Linda Biggs. The company, founded in 2020, delivers biodegradable, chemical-free sanitary pads and tampons to customers online and through more than 450 retailers.
“People don’t generally think of menstrual care and technology together but we’re not just making pads and tampons. The bigger picture is that we’re creating an ecosystem of accessibility — on store shelves, in free dispensers at airports and universities, as well as online. Technology drives our innovation and makes this possible.”
The company is among the past winners of the TELUS #StandWithOwners program, a contest designed to provide support to Canadian business owners who are making a difference in their communities and using technology to grow and differentiate their business. In its fourth year, the program is looking for game-changing business owners, who applied to win as much as $125,000 in funding, advertising and technology to help move their businesses forward.
Dr. Sapna Sriram, co-founder of Integra Health, a provider of health and wellness services in Toronto, says winning the contest boosted the company's funding so it could scale and grow.
“At TELUS, we believe that entrepreneurial spirit and innovation are worth recognizing. We want to put the spotlight on owners and empower Canadian business to do even greater things that move our economy and society forward,” says Navin Arora, Executive Vice-president, TELUS and President, TELUS Business.
TELUS #StandWithOwners is designed to support the hard work of Canadian businesses as well as focus on the larger role that technology plays for local operations.
“Those who embrace technology are the ones who are going to thrive in our increasingly digital world. It is a path to growth and differentiation for businesses,” he says.
As another #StandWithOwners winner, technology plays a crucial role to Integra Health, a provider of comprehensive health and wellness services through in-person clinics in downtown Toronto as well as online.
“Our company leverages electronic health records and digital adoption to improve patient care, and we embrace telemedicine services, breaking down geographical barriers and improving accessibility to health care for patients through remote consultations,” says co-founder Dr. Sapna Sriram. “By integrating technology into our operations, we are able to streamline processes and ensure our patients are getting great outcomes.”
Jayesh Vekariya, co-founder of joni felt winning the 2022 #StandWithOwners contest was a game-changer for the organization, not just for the technological benefits and connections, but also for the funding it provided.
“The financial support came at a crucial time to allow us to continue to invest in our dispenser innovation and growth. It really brought energy to the team and validated our work,” he says.
Before winning, joni was in about five organizations, now they are in nearly 50 and growing quickly, getting in the door of many other national retailers and growing their consumer subscriptions, while also increasing their efforts in giving back to the community.
“Our impact across Canada grew even further too, as we donate five per cent of profits to community and charitable causes, and winning #StandWithOwners, coupled with TELUS executives coming to visit joni headquarters – it made us feel seen and gave us the opportunity to get out of the weeds you find yourselves in as entrepreneurs, and really show the impact we have made,” Mr. Vekariya says.
Winning a #StandWithOwners prize package worth $20,000 in 2021 made a big difference for Integra Health too, specifically the additional funding, says Dr. Sriram, who co-founded the business in 2015.
“Funding is challenging for any stage of a business, and supporters like TELUS can be a great way to help get the support and resources you need to scale and grow as a company,” she explains.
The 2023 #StandWithOwners application period has now closed. Winners will be announced in October 2023 including five grand prize winners receiving $50,000 in cash, $50,000 in advertising, over $25,000 in technology and business services from TELUS and its partners, a round-trip package to Vancouver to celebrate this achievement, as well as access to customized mentorship with the TELUS advisory panel, based on individual business requirements. In addition, 15 finalists will be announced to receive $20,000 in funding, technology and additional support.
Stay up to date on this year's winners at telus.com/StandWithOwners.
This article was originally published in The Globe and Mail.
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