37. Thinx

An underwear innovator takes on Tampax

Founders: Miki Agrawal, Radha Agrawal, Antonia Dunbar
CEO: Maria Molland Selby
Launched: 2011
Headquarters: New York City
$1.45 million
Valuation: N/A
Key technology:
Specialty fabrics
Feminine hygiene products

George Kavallines | CNBC

For most women, menstruation means trying to find the most effective way to avoid leaks and stains. And up until now, they've had to rely on disposable pads, tampons and panty liners, which are bulky and often uncomfortable. That's why twin sisters Miki and Radha Agrawal and co-founder Antonia Dunbar came up with Thinx, a line of panties and thongs that look like regular underwear but can replace or reinforce traditional period products. The garments are made with four layers of moisture-wicking antimicrobial material and, depending on the style, can hold the same amount of liquid as a traditional tampon, or even several tampons.

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The company has not been without its controversy. Co-founder and former CEO, Miki Agrawal, was accused of sexual harassment by a former employee (a charge she denies) but stepped down from the top spot. In August the company hired Maria Molland Selby, who has more than 23 years of marketplace and e-commerce experience at Fab.com and eBay, among others. She calmed the waters and stopped employees from heading for the doors. Last year she claims sales at the New York City-based company increased 50 percent. The products, all washable and reusable, are manufactured in Sri Lanka and cost anywhere from $24 to $39 a pair. The company raised $65,000 through Kickstarter and $20,000 through Indiegogo.