Ruth wraps up Next 36, prepares to launch products


Edmonton startup Ruth is preparing to launch its environmentally friendly menstrual pads on its website next month, with co-founders Anka Chan and Nicole Sanchez continuing to build on the momentum they've created throughout this year.

Ruth, previously known as Hempact, started as a University of Alberta project by Chan and Nicole Sanchez in 2018. The product launched a Kickstarter campaign in June 2021, raising more than $10,000 in one week. The final tally of just under $15,000 far surpassed its campaign goal of $7,000.

One of the ways they've learned how to carry that success forward is Chan's participation in Next 36, a program for students or recent grads that focuses on the core skills and strategies necessary to build a business.

"My definition of success as an entrepreneur was transformed as we heard firsthand from other founders about how they scaled their businesses, we received amazing mentorship, and we grew our network to learn from fellow founders and venture capitalists," Chan told Taproot. "One main takeaway is that building a startup follows experimental design very closely, with how we test assumptions and assess market responses, then synthesize the data to de-risk our decision-making."

On Sept. 21, the program wrapped up with its annual Venture Day, where Ruth was chosen as one of four companies to pitch and represent the Next 36 cohort.

An array of white menstrual pads under a green palm leaf

Ruth is preparing to launch its natural-fibre menstrual products on its website. (Photo supplied by Ruth)

"We heard some positive feedback from the panel, especially from Som Seif (of Purpose Financial) naming our company as the venture he was most interested in backing based on our sustainability focus and large market opportunity," Chan said.

Ruth's pads are made from natural materials such as kenaf fibre, wood pulp, and a corn-based waterproof backing layer. The company is also raising awareness about the challenges women and girls face in accessing menstrual products.

Ruth was also awarded the Scotiabank Outstanding Contribution to Society Award at the Venture Day for promoting social and environmental improvements.

While Ruth products won't be available on its website until Oct. 18, you can join its waitlist in the meantime.