These Women Entrepreneurs are Addressing Women-only Problems
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Most start-up ideas are triggered by an entrepreneur’s real-life experience of dealing a particular problem and her desire to design a practical solution for it. When we think of problems related to women’s hygiene and wellness, it is only natural that women entrepreneurs recognize and address those issues better. Not that male entrepreneurs can’t, but female entrepreneurs relate better due to shared experiences.
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“Women have specific healthcare requirements. Female entrepreneurs can feel and experience the pain of women-specific problems because of shared experiences and cater to their needs better,” says Geetha Manjunath, CEO and CTO, Niramai, a deep-tech start-up that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to detect breast cancer at early stages.
Over the years, several femtech (tech products specialized for women’s health) start-ups have mushroomed in the country tackling issues related women’s health, hygiene and wellness. This Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, we tell you the story of four such women-led start-ups.
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Co-founded by Geetha Manjunath and Nidhi Mathur, Niramai offers radiation-free, non-invasive and non-touch breast cancer screening solution.
News of two of her close cousins being diagnosed with breast cancer in a span of six months prompted Manjunath to start looking for solutions in the field. “While discussing this with a friend who is an imaging expert, he told me about thermal imaging. We started exploring the use of detecting thermal imaging and developed AI-based software to analyze thermal images to detect bear abnormalities. We have conducted pilots with cancer patients and received success,” she explained.
Niramai uses thermalytix technology that can detect breast cancer at a much early stage than traditional methods or self-examination. Also, hospitals using this technology are able to do so at one-third of the price of mammography, which also means cheaper screening tests for patients.
Seed-funded by Pi Ventures, Niramai is present in 10 cities across India and has nine US patents and one Canadian patent. It is the only Indian company to have been listed on the 2019 cohort of AI 100 start-ups in the world by global business data intelligence platform CB Insights.
New Delhi-based TheaCare offers holistic solutions to women’s health and bodycare problems via a robust framework of well-researched content, engaging community, comprehensive sex education, and a range of ingenious products and services.
While speaking to Entrepreneur India earlier, Swarnima Bhattacharya, founder of TheaCare, explained how her personal experiences as a woman inspired her to launch the start-up.
“I was born and brought up in Lucknow where conversations around women’s health were almost non-existent. However, when I saw my mother face health issues, I realized it was one of the most prevalent issues but was probably also the most invisible,” she explained.
Issues around menopause, PCOS, endometriosis and infertility, among others, can have a major impact on a women’s confidence, and engagements at the workplace and personal relationships. For these reasons, Bhattacharya believes it is crucial to send out the right information and spread awareness about the right resources to be used to treat disorders.
TheaCare uses augmented reality (AR), conversational bots and community to spread awareness around women's health issues. It provides content in text, pictures and video formats about women's healthcare. Bhattacharya also plans to launch a chatbot that women can use to get answers to their queries.
Founded in 2013, SHEROES is a women-focused social media platform that lets women participate in different communities to discuss health, careers, relationships, and share their life stories, achievements and moments.
While speaking with Entrepreneur India during the LetsIgnite event, organized by LetsVentures, Sairee Chahal, founder of the community platform, said she was looking to solve her own problems while founding SHEROES. “We (women) want more dreams, ambition, better outcome and a lot more open sky to do well in life, and search for our own identity,” she said. She is leveraging the Internet to improve lives of women.
The platform is accessible via Sheroes.com and the SHEROES app.
Carmesi is a menstrual hygiene brand, most commonly known for its biodegradable organic sanitary pads.
For its co-founder, Tanvi Johri, the need to build an all-natural product originated from her own unpleasant experience with synthetic pads—rashes and infections.
That’s not all. With Carmesi, Johri is also solving the problem of disposability of pads, which is a major pain point for women especially when they are outdoors. “I would always have to carry newspaper and polythene bags with me when stepping out. It was a major inconvenience,” she recalled. Each Carmesi pad comes with a disposable bag.
During her research, Johri found that these problems existed globally and no FMCG giants were actively taking steps towards solving these issues. “A few companies were making organic tampons in the Western countries and that made me think that Indian women need similar products too. Especially because the hot and humid climate here aggravates the problem of rashes,” pointed Johri.
Carmesi also provides women an interactive platform on its Instagram page. “We carry conversations around medical problems, such as PCOS and endometriosis that affect millions of women across age groups. When women write to us about their problems, we carry out sessions with gynecologists on Instagram stories,” Johri said.
Apart from pads, the company also makes panty liners and intimate wash products, and all these products can be bought on Carmesi’s website and online marketplaces such as Flipkart, Amazon, Nykaa and Purplle. Carmesi last raised pre-series A funding of $500,000 in August 2018.