How This Student Female Founder is Solving Women’s Reproductive Health Misinformation
Written by Monica Garza | February 2023
“Being able to be passionate about [an entrepreneurial venture] enough to where you’re willing to accept all the setbacks that come your way and still be resilient and still be motivated by your cause is something that, at least in my eyes, really defines what an entrepreneur is.”
Meet Alyssa Le, a third-year undergraduate student in the Business Honors Program and Management Information Systems major pursuing a computer science certificate at The University of Texas at Austin. She’s also the founder of the Locket, an innovative online resource that provides menstrual and sexual education to women. “The mission is to help make reproductive health support and information more accessible to teens and adults,” Le explains.
Speaking to many women throughout her life, she’s noticed a common understanding women have on uncertainties of their bodies that is widely accepted. “When you have a question, your first instinct isn’t to book an appointment with a doctor, it’s to search on the internet where you’re met with contradicting information and so many resources.”
Considering that problem, Alyssa’s startup’s mission is to be a one-stop site for reproductive health information. With a researched and medically approved curriculum on menstrual and sexual health, one-on-one video consultations, and 24-hour support services, Locket provides the resources that many young women may strongly need. “We have a text line where you can text and get medically approved answers, and we have consultations…Even if you don’t want to talk to anyone and you just want to do your own searching, we have some educational resources that I think would be great for anyone that’s in need.”
Her first introduction to entrepreneurship was during high school where, for all 4 years, she participated in the Junior Achievement Company Program entrepreneurship organization. Every year, the organization would pursue an entrepreneurship venture and she got the opportunity to compete at the regional and national levels with her club’s startups. “That was pretty much my first taste of entrepreneurship and I walked into UT really hungry to explore the startup ecosystem just from those high school experiences which were awesome.”
Coming into UT Austin, Alyssa’s friend recommended her to join the Social Entrepreneurship Learning Lab (SELL) Fellowship program, which teaches students design thinking for a startup centered around social impact. As the first student organization on her list when she got to UT, it became Le’s first true entrepreneurial experience on campus. “They rewrote everything I learned from high school and taught me from the ground up; design thinking, how that works, and how you can create the idea for a startup.” She also joined RISE, which teaches financial literacy and entrepreneurship to lower-income students.
It was during her time in the SELL Ideator Fellowship that Alyssa founded Locket in an effort to provide women with the resources that research showed were clearly lacking. Conversely, Alyssa grew up with the support from her 2 older sisters and her OB-GYN father. Her realization that other women lack a support system for reproductive information at their disposal inspired her to help provide that to others. Upon becoming sexually active, Alyssa noticed a disconnect between her and her support system due to discomfort in asking reproductive educational questions. Relating to other women in this aspect and thankful for her support system and resources, she decided to pursue her social entrepreneurship venture. “I got to interview high school teenagers and people in college about their experiences and the more and more I heard of people’s stories, the more I was so convinced this is something I wanted to work on.”
“If you or anyone you know ever has a question in the middle of the night or has uncertainties about their menstrual or sexual health, which are very common topics, especially on a college campus, I definitely recommend reaching out to Locket or at least noting it down as a resource for you to turn to…we have some educational resources that I think would be great for anyone that’s in need.”
During her time at The University of Texas at Austin, Alyssa has utilized many entrepreneurship resources, including placing 4th Place in the Herb Kelleher Entrepreneurship Center’s annual Undergrad Pitch Competition, DisrupTexas. Le has also participated in the Kendra Scott Female Founders Program and Launchpad’s startup grants program for 3 semesters. At the Launchpad, she’s been able to co-work meetings and it has allowed her to collaborate with other entrepreneurs and receive mentorship. She’s also had the opportunity to participate in HKEC Startup Coffee Connect for networking opportunities.
“When we qualified [for DisrupTexas], I was so ecstatic, it felt very unreal,” Alyssa recounts of her experience pitching Locket with her team. “DisrupTexas was really valuable for us…I think the judges had really good feedback for us…and some points of constructive criticism and that’s exactly what we need to hear and what we’re looking for and we were very honored to place fourth.” The judges’ points of criticism and concern for Locket were not a discouragement but rather a great opportunity for improvement that helped better shape Locket post the pitch competition.
“Being a founder and working on a venture that can be controversial to some has definitely provided its challenges. Being able to navigate pivots and being able to be comfortable with uprooting and moving to something else has definitely been a huge challenge for me and a really big learning experience that I’ve taken away, that I don’t think I could quite grasp or learn without having this founder and startup experience.”
For students interested in pursuing entrepreneurship, she recommends getting plugged into startup resources and organizations, seeking out mentors, using your colleges’ network, and “not hesitating to take the first step.” For students interested but reluctant to begin a venture, she advises, “I would really advise [you] to just take that step and make that push and go for it. College is an amazing and safe space to honestly make mistakes.” She also adds that “It’s not about being super successful with this idea right off the bat. I think this is the time to make mistakes and learn from amazing people at UT with amazing resources.”
She provides her valuable perspective on what being an entrepreneur means to her:
“I definitely do consider myself an entrepreneur but I don’t think it’s just because I’ve started something or have a startup. I think being an entrepreneur is not just starting something but really trying to see it through. I think that experience, that journey, that rollercoaster of all of the things that you face when you start with an initial idea or you’re trying to tackle a problem and you really try to see it through. I think that’s what it means to me.”
As for Locket’s future, Alyssa and her team are currently working to keep on solidifying Locket’s concept and idea to where it is scalable. “We are constantly in the stage of our idea and business model…and we’re really excited to see where it goes.”
Alyssa and one of her team members, Paulina Chee, are both participating members in this year’s Forty Acres Founders Program cohort, hosted by the Herb Kelleher Entrepreneurship Center, where they continue to hone in the vision for Locket’s future.
We can’t wait to see what is in store for Locket and the excellent social impact it will continue to have. For people interested in pursuing entrepreneurship, Alyssa adds her last words of advice: “Just go for it.”
To learn more about Locket, visit their website: https://locketbc.com/
To learn more about the DisrupTexas Undergrad Pitch Competition, the Forty Acres Founders Program, Startup Coffee Connects, and more entrepreneurship related engagement opportunities at UT, visit the Herb Kelleher Entrepreneurship Center’s website: www.uthkec.com.