How Bengaluru-based femtech startup Ava aims to be every woman’s wellness buddy
The women’s healthtech market has for long focused on fertility and pregnancy. But in the last few years, the femtech market is concentrating on a wider range of issues, including endometriosis, mental health, menstrual health, menopause, and more.
According to Frost & Sullivan, working women tend to spend “29 percent more per capita on healthcare compared to males in the same age group”. Many startups are tapping this spending gap and opportunity to transform women’s healthcare.
Enter, a lifestyle management platform for chronic conditions.
Founded in December 2019 by Evelyn Immanuel, the platform aims to be every woman's wellness buddy by promoting a disciplined and holistic approach to ensure a better quality of life and avert future complications.
The Bengaluru-headquartered femtech startup offers curated programmes and personalised plans to help women deal with chronic health conditions such as PCOS, thyroid, insulin resistance etc.
“We’re solving for chronic conditions that affect about 68 percent of all women. Chronic conditions require disciplined management and continued monitoring. At Ava, we picked polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) as our first beachhead. One in every five women in India suffers PCOS, a condition with varied symptoms such as irregular periods, hirsutism, acne, and weight gain,” Evelyn says.
If left untreated, PCOS increases the risk of some types of cancer. The lifestyle disorder is often treated with birth control pills, leaving women to deal with the many side effects arising from their continued usage.
Ava brings together a team of condition experts like PCOS doctors, nutritionists, fitness coaches, dermatologists, and psychologists. A personalised team is created for every woman, which works to reverse symptoms through a holistic approach.
Evelyn is a single founder with a rich experience in the startup healthcare space. After graduating in biomedical engineering from Visvesvaraya Technological University, in Bengaluru, in 2012, she garnered rich work experience with Practo, Jana Care, and Aindra Systems.
Her experience – gained from doctor aggregation platforms, medical devices like smart glucometers, and technologies such as AI for detection of cancer - gave her a very close understanding of the healthtech space.
"It was very organic for me to think of innovation in healthcare. A personal struggle with hormonal disorders led me to look at the women's health and wellness space very closely. Unfortunately, solutions and products for women’s health seem to be only period and pregnancy trackers,” she says.
Evelyn realised that there was “a huge unmet need for solutions that can cater to chronic health conditions” that affect women. These include PCOS, thyroid, endometriosis, and diabetes.
Ava started off as an Instagram page for women seeking help and support for PCOS. Their first customer reached out through the social media platform, and sought help in finding a gynecologist and nutritionist. That’s when Evelyn quickly put together a team of experts and offered this service on a platform. She invested Rs 10 lakh, and built the tech in under three months with her team.
Healthcare is a large puzzle to solve, with various startups picking up different pieces of the jigsaw - telemedicine, e-pharmacy, diagnostics, and others.
However, management of chronic conditions requires intervention. Most Western companies that have been at the forefront of using data to help chronic conditions are gender-agnostic. This is where Ava sees an opportunity.
“There are conditions that are very gender-specific and need different types of management and monitoring,” Evelyn says.
Ava has many features. It has a community page, which is a safe place for women to discuss their PCOS struggles and seek support from women going through the same condition. The page has a credible and curated PCOS guide, developed by thorough research from clinical research papers and articles. These are absolutely free features.
Ava founded by Evelyn is a health tech startup for women.
"We also offer a paid PCOS programme subscription ranging from three to 12 months. Every subscriber is assigned a personal gynaecologist, nutritionist, fitness coach, dermatologist, and psychologist. This team helps her with personalised PCOS diet coaching, workout plan, infertility support if required, hair and skin treatment plan, and a counselling session if she’s going through anxiety or depression. These programmes offer unlimited consultations with the nutrition and fitness coach through the entire duration,” Evelyn says.
Ava's programmes are priced from Rs 3,000-14,000.
The market and future
The growing healthtech sub-market encompasses software, diagnostic tools, wearable trackers, and other online services that use digital technology to improve women’s health.
The Frost & Sullivan report revealed that 80 percent of household healthcare spending is done by women and they are 75 percent more likely to use digital tools for healthcare than men. The report identified a market potential of $50 billion by 2025, stating that “female technology (femtech) is emerging as the next big disruptor in the global healthcare market”.
As market opportunities grow, Ava is among the many startups that aim to innovate and create a shift in female healthcare by empowering women to take ownership of their wellbeing.
The femtech startup in 2020 raised its first undisclosed institutional cheque through 100x.vc. It is in the early revenue stage and did not disclose numbers.
Over the last 12 months, the most challenging aspect for the business has been getting the best service providers onboard.
“We’re extremely picky when it comes to service providers; they undergo a stringent curation process before they are on Ava,” Evelyn says.
The startup's app has helped 3,000 women till now and the company has big plans: reaching one million women undergoing PCOS. Ava will also expand into other categories like thyroid and endometriosis.
Startups working in the space, albeit with a different business model, include &Me and FemBeat. But Ava is focusing on building its offerings.
“We’re a vertical platform catering to women’s health and wellness specifically. Welook at healthcare with a holistic lens and intend to create value for Ava users to treat any chronic condition in a methodical and long-lasting way,” Evelyn says.