Precisely because humans are complex beings, the number of taboos to innovate around is broad.
Below is a selection of areas ripe with opportunity, and a list of the startups who have already seen early funding wins in each: Sex & Reproductive Healthseveral of the topics listed above are challenging due to customer acquisition issues, unproven unit economics, and a lack of open minded investors willing to place a bet on a taboo space if they themselves haven’t faced the problem (e.g. And of course, founders continue to battle widespread social stigma.
Convincing customers to own up to their “darkness” is challenging work.
But for those founders who find a wedge, the rewards can be massive.
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It’s a warm New York evening and I’m sitting at a monthly brainstorm session hosted at Human Ventures; one of the attendees, the remarkable thought leader and entrepreneur Patrycja Slawuta (Founder, Self-Hackathon) makes a comment that I have not been able to shake since: “” Her comment got my mental juices flowing and have since sent me down a year long rabbit hole of exploration around taboos, aka “the darkness”. Meriam-Websters defines taboos as: “something that is not acceptable to say, mention, or do; a prohibition imposed by social custom or as a protective measure.” While taboos vary greatly across nationality, race, religion and beyond, those that most Americans would categorize as “not acceptable to say, mention or do” include: sex, addiction, mental health, divorce, death, and finance.
While the media and startup community would have us in eternal pursuit of the next fad diet or exercise routine (I see you, goat yoga), the sad truth is that Americans face a multitude of harrowing statistics: one in six will experience an addiction throughout their life, 40% of marriages do not survive, nearly one in five will suffer from a mental health issue over the course of their lifetime. Bringing these stats down to a more personal level, in the last year alone I have sought a therapist’s help, frozen my eggs, and ordered tampons online.
So when Nadia Farouk, second-in-command to the princess of the school, Plum Saybourne, invites Scarlett - and only Scarlett - to Scarlett Wakefield is a dag among peacocks at the elite, private girls' school of St.