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In a recent interview with Team FemTech India, we had the pleasure of chatting with Shagun Maheshwari, the innovative mind behind Papaya, a women’s health-focused product company. Shagun’s journey from being a mechanical engineer to revolutionizing menstrual hygiene is truly inspiring.

The Journey Unveiled:

Shagun began her academic journey as a mechanical engineer, graduating from Duke University with a Master’s in Mechanical Engineering in 2016. Her professional journey led her to work at Applied Materials in California for three years before joining a startup called Mojo Vision, where she contributed to the development of the world’s first smart contact lens. However, her passion for creating a sustainable solution for menstrual hygiene led her to embark on a five-year journey to develop a compostable, plastic-free pad.

“It started as a hobby project – I wanted to make something that was comfortable, safe, and sustainable – and most importantly accessible to people.”

Unexpected Entry into FemTech:

Shagun didn’t plan on entering the FemTech industry. Her venture into it started organically when she began working on her pad project. It began as a personal mission to create a better menstrual product, addressing the discomfort associated with existing options like menstrual cups. The journey has been fascinating, and Shagun notes the industry’s small yet well-connected nature, with everyone being supportive and encouraging.

“I fell in love with the menstrual cup, and when I told my family and friends about it – no one wanted to try it. That’s when I started work on the pad.”

Challenges and Triumphs:

Papaya faced a unique obstacle: their pad is the only one developed using real menstrual blood, coagulating it rather than just absorbing it. The lack of standardized tests using real blood became a significant challenge. However, being entirely bootstrapped, Papaya’s small team successfully manufactured the pad, marking a noteworthy achievement.

Our biggest obstacle has been the fact that no standardized tests on sanitary products use real blood.”

Papaya’s Unique Proposition:

Papaya, a women’s health-focused company, offers a menstrual pad that coagulates menstrual blood, ensuring it is fully compostable, plastic-free, and free of harmful chemicals. The core layer is antimicrobial and highly breathable, making it odour-proof.

“Getting the pad manufactured and made into a product has been incredible.”


Shagun – Papaya, we’re committed to prioritizing women’s health in our pads and products. We’re exploring ways to boost antimicrobial activity, ensuring a genuinely healthier pad without sacrificing comfort or sustainability.

“There’s much more in the pipeline—stay tuned for innovations that redefine feminine hygiene for the better”

Advocating for FemTech:

For Shagun, the FemTech movement is vital as it recognizes the gaps in our knowledge about women’s health. She emphasizes the importance of understanding and addressing unique health concerns that women face.

Women’s health has only recently started entering medical research. There is so much we don’t yet know and understand about the various and unique health concerns women face.”

Key Trends in FemTech:

Looking ahead, Shagun predicts a significant push toward understanding women’s bodies better and the emergence of technology catering specifically to women’s unique health concerns.

“I think there will be a big push on understanding our bodies better and technology that caters specifically to women’s unique health concerns.”

Advice for Aspiring FemTech Professionals:

Quoting from The Lion King’s “Circle of Life,” Shagun imparts a timeless piece of advice: 

“There’s more to do than can ever be done and more to see than can ever be seen.”

Shaping the Future of FemTech:

Shagun’s one change for the FemTech industry? “More funding, please!” She emphasizes that the industry isn’t just for women; it requires everyone’s participation.

More funding, please!! 😀 This is not an industry just for women – we need everybody to participate.”

Shagun Maheshwari journey with Papaya exemplifies innovation, perseverance, and a commitment to improving women’s health. As Papaya continues to push boundaries, we eagerly anticipate the positive impact it will have on the FemTech landscape.

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If you’re a trailblazer in women’s health or FemTech, we’d love to hear your story! Share your journey and insights with us at Together, let’s amplify the voices driving positive change.