Kristin Kagestu

Kristin Kagestu

We make 100% biodegradable and compostable sanitary pads from banana fiber. Our goal is to create hygiene products that are good for the body, environment, and community.

Ahmedabad, India
Member since June 12, 2019
I am passionate about sustainable design and manufacturing for positive impact. Quote_down
  • About
2012 MIT , BS , Mechanical Engineering
Good communication, Global Mindset, Systems Thinking, Leadership skills, Strategy.

I am a(n):


Companies I've founded or co-founded:
Companies I work or worked for:
Saathi Eco Innovations India Pvt Ltd, Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers, Oracle
Achievements (products built, personal awards won):

Saathi has developed 100% biodegradable and compostable pad made from banana fiber which is one of the most absorbent natural fibers and abundant. Our pads do not contain bleach or chemicals to minimize skin irritation and release of toxins into the environment upon disposal. Also they more comfortable and safer. Our pads degrade within 6 months of disposal, 1200 times faster than conventional pads, and eliminate the need for incineration, reducing CO2 production. Saathi aims to be a model of the circular economy and our goal is to create hygiene products that are good for the body environment, and community.
Few awards and achievements won by Saathi:

Enterprising Women of the Year by MSME , 2019, India
The 2019 St Andrews Prize for the Environment, 2019, UK
Fast Company’s Annual list of the World’s Most Innovative Companies for 2019
IP Start-Up of the Year 2018
Expo 2020 Live Grant Award 2018, Dubai
Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards Finalist 2018, Singapore
Global Cleantech Innovation Program Global Winner 2018, LA
Hello Tomorrow Global Challenge Winner 2017, Paris
MIT Solve 2017, NYC
Grand Challenges Canada 2017
Good Festival Prema Gyan Medal Winner 2017, Lausanne
Circular Board Pitch for Purpose Winner 2017, Houston
SXSW Accelerator Pitch Finalist in Healthcare 2017, Austin
Asia Social Innovation Award 2017, Hong Kong
Edie Sustainability Awards Finalist 2017, London
Asia Society Action Lab Grant 2016, Seoul
3M Young Innovators Challenge Winner 2016, Bangalore
MIT D-Lab Scale-up Fellow 2015, Boston
Harvard Business School New Venture Competition Winner 2014, Boston

If you're an entrepreneur or corporate innovator, why?

I want to change the world.

My favorite startups:


Why did you start your company or why do you want to innovate inside your company?

Saathi began in 2015, when its 4 Co-Founders, Kristin Kagetsu, Tarun Bothra, Amrita Saigal & Grace Kane - graduates of MIT, Harvard & Nirma University - came together on a mission to create fully eco-friendly, compostable sanitary napkins using locally sourced banana fiber from the state of Gujarat, where Saathi is based. We were inspired by the idea of improving women's access to sanitary pads in India. Both Amrita and Tarun have personal experiences with a family member who was affected by having to face the taboos around menstrual hygiene in India. Kristin was passionate about making a product that impacts women and had previously commercialized and launched sustainable natural-dye crayons made by local artisans in UttarakhanD. Grace was also passionate about sustainable product design. We were all motivated by the potential to make a positive difference for women in India while using an engineering approach focused on ecology and sustainability.

What's most frustrating and rewarding about entrepreneurship/innovation?

Frustrating: getting people to believe in our mission and support our solution, companies that greenwash their products
Rewarding: making something that helps and impacts people positively!

What's the No. 1 mistake entrepreneurs/innovators make?

Not Adapting to New Situations
Your business can’t grow, if your strategies are not dynamic. As an entrepreneur, you have to think in multiple directions while making decisions. If you don’t consider the quality of the product, customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, etc. it will impact your business growth. Achieving a balance between growth and quality is the key to success in business.

What are the top three lessons you've learned as an entrepreneur?

Forecast risk and be prepared with mitigation in advance
We don't fail, we learn
Always have a plan B and C

Full bio

Kristin Kagetsu is one of the co-founders and chief executive officer of Saathi, a social enterprise dedicated to providing an end-to-end solution for sanitary protection to women in India. Kristin has a passion for engineering design that makes a direct impact on people's lives. As an undergraduate student, she worked on multiple projects with the MIT Design Lab (D-Lab) in Brazil, Nicaragua, and India. Her first product launch was of a set of natural dye crayons that she developed with an NGO in Uttarakhand where she fell in love with India. Kristin also volunteered with the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers (SASE), working to structure and expand the national collegiate team to better support over 60 collegiate chapters, as well as to develop SASE leadership in the Northeast. She was an MIT DLab ScaleUps Fellow, TEDx speaker, Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia Fellow and currently resides in India.