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Q&A with Markea Dickinson '20, Co-Founder of Thermaband

Markea Dickinson '20 co-founded Thermaband during her second year at SOM. Thermaband's mission is to reframe midlife and empower women to control their thermal comfort through the Zone device. This smart personal thermostat provides heating and cooling sensations, as well as digital health data, and was co-created with a community of 600+ women.

Markea Dickinson

Q: What inspired you to found Thermaband?

A: During my second year of Yale SOM, my mom experienced her first hot flash..and after months of listening to her frustration about this debilitating personal inferno, and the lack of solutions she’d found, I decided to dig into it. After searching for solutions to help her- I saw so many typical antiquated solutions that just don’t give women any dignity whatsoever- like cooling fans that hang around your neck or damp towels. I’ve always been passionate about women’s empowerment – but since this was really impacting my mom’s quality of life (and the 1.1 billion women projected to be in menopause globally), I was inspired to create an equitable solutions for women to bring their best selves during this natural season of life.  

 Q: Your mom is your co-founder—how has working with her been? What distinct things do you both bring to the table as cofounders?

A: It’s been quite a journey- we’re like yin and yang, we complement each other very well, but have such different lenses and personalities. Working with her has been fun, especially since there’s already an inherent desire to see each other succeed..we celebrate small wins, big wins and everything in between! She brings an extensive legal background and expertise as a serial entrepreneur, and I bring operations and logistics expertise having worked in a factory. 

Q: How did you navigate the Yale Entrepreneurship Ecosystem? What resources did you use?

A: The Yale ecosystem in general was so incredibly valuable through the early stages of launching Thermaband. 3 key resources I used that were transformational in my business- Tsai City, Yale Entrepreneurial Institute, and SOM’s Startup Founders Practicum. Although I didn’t get accepted into any of the Tsai City Accelerator programs, I found so much value in speaking with the Mentor in Residences. They helped navigate resources across campus and opportunities for grants. They were instrumental in making some helpful introductions and connecting us with folks around campus that could help- in the Engineering, Medical and Public Health schools. I leveraged the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute (Jim Boyle) as well, which was helpful in understanding and navigating the ecosystem particularly professors who could support across campus. Within SOM, I took the Startup Founders Practicum course for a semester, which was such an amazing way to provide structure, accountability and resources throughout. My mentor, Kyle Jensen, has been such an amazing advocate and sponsor- and continues to help us navigate as first-time tech founders!

 Q: What has been going on with your company since you graduated from SOM this summer?

A: So much traction it’s been overwhelming but exciting- we’ve expanded our team (have a Full-Stack Developer and senior medical advisor), have a functional prototype that we’ve been testing internally, partnered with a few research institutions to conduct clinical trials, were recently featured in a Fortune article as one of the 5% of Femtech companies focusing on Menopause (a $600B market), and have a lead investor for our seed round. 

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Markea Dickinson was the recipient of the Fuad El-Hibri Entrepreneurial Award in 2020.