The Minatizer: Jenkins MBA Graduate Empowers Young Women Through Innovative Product
Jelyse Dawson, MBA ‘18 left a notable legacy in the Poole College of Management. After competing (and winning) in various events, including the 2018 Poole College Leadership and Innovation Showcase, her latest team project focuses her exceptional passion, talent and education into a world-changing device: The Minatizer.
For Jelyse, this product embodies everything she hopes to represent in her personal and professional life.
“I’ve always been drawn to health, business and social change. Whether it was studying abroad in South Africa learning about water quality or serving as a diversity recruiter for John Deere, I want my work to make an impact. That’s why the Minatizer is so important because it has the ability to help girls in developing nations have the independence they need to build the life they deserve.”
I’ve always been drawn to health, business and social change. Whether it was studying abroad in South Africa learning about water quality or serving as a diversity recruiter for John Deere, I want my work to make an impact.
What is the Minatizer?
The MINA Foundation, a non-profit organization based out of Johannesburg, South Africa was founded with the mission “to keep more young girls in school, change their lives and save the planet,” as stated on the foundation website. Within this mission, MINA works with partners throughout the world to create and distribute the MINA menstrual cup, an eco-friendly device made of medical silicone that is inexpensive and reusable for up to five years.
With this hurdle passed however, there was still one obstacle: users needed a versatile way to clean the MINA cup in varied environments. Combining the words “MINA” and “sanitizer,” the Minatizer is designed to work with the MINA menstrual cup to quickly and efficiently disinfect the cup anywhere, anytime, and in any location. This cleaning device uses a simple disinfecting solution making it easy to use and non-dependant on a clean water source, thus empowering women who might not otherwise have access to alternatives.
According to the Minatizer team, “School aged girls in developing nations face many challenges, but missing school because of menstruation should not be one of them. The MINA Foundation provides menstrual cups to keep girls in school, but cleaning the cup is a burden. The Minatizer is an eco-friendly and economical cleansing device providing an intimate and effortless experience even in the most remote areas. By giving girls the independence they need, they can build the future they deserve.”
MINA looks to NC State students for collaborative solution.
Along with Jelyse, Catherine Mitchell (MBA ‘17), Nicholas Gentet (Master of Industrial Design ‘18), Prerana Rao (Master of Industrial Engineering ‘19), Christine Areson (Master of Science, Polymer Engineering ‘18) all used their individual strengths to collectively create this device as part of NC State’s Product Innovation Lab course (MBA 555) curriculum taught by Poole College professor Dr. Jon Bohlmann in the fall of 2017.
For Dawson, the choice to pursue this project was easy.
By giving girls the independence they need, they can build the future they deserve.
“On the first day of class, we were presented with several ideas that needed commercialization. After learning that millions of girls around the world are forced to drop out of school because of their menstrual cycle, I knew MINA was the project for me.”
“MINA Foundation Board member, Tina Taylor, challenged us to create a disinfectant solution that didn’t rely on water or electricity. In collaboration of the College of Biomedical Engineering we found that isopropyl alcohol is a good way to disinfect the cup plus it is inexpensive, readily available anywhere in the world, and has a long shelf-life,” said Jelyse when explaining her first interaction with MINA.
Experience meets opportunity.
The story of the Minatizer in many ways mirrors the story that Jelyse has written in her own career. With experience in diversity recruitment with the John Deere company, and then a career shift into health and wellness while founding her company Fusion Fitness, Jelyse has always been focused on bringing people together. Her education with Jenkins gave her the final piece that she needed to excel in this project.
“My consumer behavior practicum taught me how to conduct market research and my entrepreneurship classes emphasized voice of customer. This knowledge helped me to create in-depth interview guides that were used to conduct phone interviews with girls and their parents in South Africa,” said Dawson.
Jelyse also discovered that her education with Jenkins MBA informed her ability to get to the core of what was needed to succeed.
“We found that what the girls were truly looking for was intimacy and independence: being able to clean the cup whenever and wherever. Being able to incorporate their feedback into our design is what made this project really special.”
Immediate success with a bright future.
The Tenth Annual Poole College of Management Leadership and Innovation Showcase on April 19, 2018 featured 23 graduate teams all competing for the top prize. Corporate partners, alumni, faculty and staff contributed to the judging and over 400 attendees came to Reynolds Coliseum to see the creative solutions to real world problems. Amidst this tough competition, the Minatizer received recognition as the top graduate team and was awarded a $5,000 scholarship. Team members Jelyse Dawson, Catherine Mitchell, Nicolas Gentet, Prerana Rao, and Christine Areson shared the award. However, for Jelyse and rest of her team, it was never about money or recognition. It was about changing the lives for young girls around the world.
My vision for the Minatizer is that it breaks down barriers surrounding menstruation and women’s health around the world.
“Since day one of the project, it has been about doing what’s best for these girls,” said Dawson.
Now with the showcases and awards behind them, the team is now looking to the potential of the product in the real world. The future of the Minatizer now depends on patenting the design and raising capital to bring it to market. With the depth of practical experience, and knowledge gained from her education with Jenkins MBA at Poole, Jelyse Dawson is ready to continue this legacy.
“Most of the team members just graduated, so we have this summer to draw up a plan of action. My vision for the Minatizer is that it breaks down barriers surrounding menstruation and women’s health around the world.”