Markea Dickinson: Your New Superpower is Creating Personal Temperature Zones
Ladderworks is a publishing startup of diverse picture books with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews, by a character named Spiffy, with founders working on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Our focus for March is on SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being. There is so much at stake, so let’s see what’s being done!
Hi there, I’m Spiffy, your friendly interplanetary journalist hanging out on Planet Earth. Today I’m interviewing an entrepreneur who makes it possible for people to set their own temperature. If you’re as curious about this as I am, join me as I welcome Markea Dickinson, the co-founder and COO of Thermaband.
Spiffy: I’m really excited to talk to you today, Markea. Can you tell me about the challenge you’re addressing?
Markea: Thanks so much for having me, Spiffy! So, have you ever felt too cold or warm in a room when other people around you seem perfectly fine? We believe people deserve to be comfortable and own their (comfort) zone. At Thermaband, our mission is to give people the superpower of comfort when they need it most. The Thermaband Zone is a bracelet that gives you superpowers to manage how warm or cool you feel. It places your temperature in your hands, by giving heating or cooling sensations based on your temperature. It feels like holding a warm drink or an ice cube.
Spiffy: Wow! As you can imagine, Markea, I do have trouble adjusting to the different temps here on Earth! Can you tell me what motivated you to hone in on this?
Markea: I launched Thermaband with my mom after seeing her struggle so much when she turned 51. At that age, she started having hot flashes (which she calls "personal infernos") as part of a natural transition in life called menopause. I learned about puberty in health class when I was younger, which made me feel more comfortable and prepared when I got my menstrual cycle. Unfortunately, that's not what happens with women in menopause (over 1.1 billion women globally). 75% of these women who go to their doctors for help still can't get relief. Women deserve more, we shouldn't have to suffer in silence.
Spiffy: I agree! How else are you working at creating a more equitable world?
Markea: We’re creating a more equitable world in two ways. First, we are creating a product by women, for women. Most technologies on the market were made by men—and very few are tailored to women. It’s important to us for women to have a voice in the product design process. Although the product is unisex, we want it to make women's lives better. So it’s important that they have a seat at the (virtual) table. The second way we’re making the world more equitable is by giving people more control over their health and wellness. On a global level, not everyone has the resources to access air conditioning or other ways to make themselves comfortable. We’re making temperature personal.
Spiffy: I’m curious, Markea, what kind of recent milestone have you achieved and what kind of impact is it having?
Markea: We built a community of women on Facebook, and scaled it from zero to almost 1,000 women across three continents in a few months! This impact is huge since we can spread the word about our product and mission, and have women unite virtually to form a community. We call it the "multigenerational sisterhood" since it's important to women of all ages to understand their bodies and prepare for what's to come.
Spiffy: I always like to ask about failure. Can you tell me about a time when you faced failure and didn't give up. What did you learn?
Markea: I love the quote “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” I have faced LOTS of rejection as a founder, so I’ve learned to reframe failure as: letting imposter syndrome win. Imposter syndrome is something I’ve faced for a long time (even after graduating from Yale) and is the persistent self-doubt and struggle to accept your success. One of my failures was self-screening, and deciding not to apply to one of the best startup accelerator programs last year. My lesson? Be aware when imposter syndrome is clouding my lens and don’t get in my own way.
Spiffy: Thanks for sharing this important lesson—and your amazing work with us! I can’t wait to try my own Thermaband. It’s been an honor, Markea.
Markea Dickinson is the co-founder of Thermaband, along with her mother Debbie. She is passionate about democratizing access to resources for underserved communities. She worked at Unilever in operations before pursuing her MBA at Yale. Prior to that, she graduated from Penn State and was a student-athlete with majors in supply chain and Spanish. (Nominated by Inclusion Nextwork)
© 2021 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Jill Landis Jha. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. Follow Spiffy’s stories of founders building a more equitable world at www.ladderworks.co/blogs/spiffys-blog
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.