Correction, Nov. 24, 2014: Despite the claims of Austen Heinz and Gilad Gome, the founder of Sweet Peach Probiotics later told Inc. that the men had misrepresented her company’s mission. This post reflects an impression based on a misrepresented understanding of the company. The company’s mission is to promote reproductive health in women by identifying microorganisms in the vagina and supplying probiotic supplements to help prevent infections. The original post remains below.
There is, you may have recently read, a new biobro startup project in Silicon Valley. It’s called Sweet Peach. (Not a Snapple flavor.) Its mission, apparently hatched by a couple of 11-year-old boys still in the “ew, girl cooties” stage, is to make sure women’s vaginas smell “pleasant.”
I have so many questions about this!
Why would the people behind this idea—male biotech founders Austen Heinz and Gilad Gome—fix on “feminine odor” as a pressing problem to solve? What terrible smells must these men have been exposed to, in their intrepid startup bro-ing, to make them devote their serious intellectual heft to solving this very important problem? How many women did they consult in their extremely selfless quest to fix gross vaginas?
And, perhaps most important for any straight women they hope to convert into customers (if indeed any such women exist): When will Sweet Peach turn its attention to the problem of male odor and stinky manly genitalia? Will Sweet Peach be followed by Rugged Mist or Leather Smoke?
Sadly, that last question is the only one I actually know the answer to, after reading my colleague Jeff Bercovici’s interview with Messrs. Heinz and Gome. Smelly testicles don’t appear to be a priority; the next item on their agenda is a probiotic to make cat and dog feces “smell like bananas.”
Yep, you read that correctly: These dudes rank women’s bodies up there with pet poop.
I think my favorite part of this pitch is the attempt to position Sweet Peach as “personal empowerment” for women. It’s a great marketing line; it’s just not very original. Since time immemorial, beauty and feminine hygiene companies have used the promise of personal empowerment to help sell equally reprehensible, if much more subtle, campaigns based around negging women and then offering the solution to all of their bodily imperfections. Or smells. Especially smells. Poor Sweet Peach, trying to put a “probiotic supplement” gloss on what’s essentially the boring old douche market. (Pun intended; indeed unavoidable.)
So I’m not particularly surprised by Sweet Peach or its creators’ stupendous obliviousness. They’re startup bros, after all, pitching their product to a likeminded audience, during a year and in a particular week when the noise surrounding Silicon Valley’s respect issues concerning women’s bodies is almost deafening.
I still wonder: Who is giving these men the time of day? Why on earth would the DEMO conference (tagline: “New tech solving big problems”) consider the issue of women’s bodies—which are, as if this needs to be said, not grosser than any other humans’ bodies, and which are possessed by 51 percent of the U.S. population—a “big problem” to solve? Who’s giving these men advice or approval of their quest to solve this nonproblem? And, to borrow a line from an adjacent issue, can they please keep their peachy bullshit far, far away from my uterus?