This woman entrepreneur has launched a pocket-size device to alleviate period cramps
Hailing from a family of textile entrepreneurs and enthusiasts, it was a given for Preksha Chopra to pursue a degree from the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT).
She began her career in 2014 with a traditional fashion brand, Awastika, and later, diversified into a maternity wear label called Momistaan. An association with First Cry to create a fashion boutique marketplace for her brand was another milestone in this journey.
In 2019, Preksha started working with her husband, Rahul Chopra, by supplying him with fabric for his healthcare products like knee and back belt fabrics.
Rahul’s company manufactured TENS and EMS therapy products. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is a method of pain relief involving the use of a mild electrical current. It is usually a small, battery-operated device that has wires connected to sticky pads called electrodes.
“After spending a substantial time understanding the industry of pain management, Rahul and I together established the brand Companio. The company offered Knee TENS Device and Back TENS Device to help the user conquer pain in those areas,” Preksha says.
Health technology for managing pain
He ‘aha’ moment for Welme came while the duo was working on Companio.
“On research, I found that TENS therapy can work wonders for any type of pain in the human body. This sparked an idea. Being a woman, I understood the pains of period cramps - quite literally. To my surprise, my research showed that many companies in other countries were using and marketing TENS products for menstrual pain relief. I decided to create, design, and develop India’s first period pain relief technology,” she explains.
As a technology-led healthcare brand, Preksha believed there was just one strategy to keep it simple. It was going to be a brand for modern women who wanted to break free from the taboo around menstruation. The idea was to create period pain relief technology that was fashionable enough to inspire women to use it openly, without judgment or shame.
With a team of product designers, a physiotherapist, an electronics expert, and a data scientist, the duo developed Welme, a menstrual pain relief device they claim to be India’s first scientifically proven product in this category.
Being a tech healthcare product, the first market the duo chose to launch was Bengaluru.
“We wanted to see how this product flies with an audience that is already technology friendly and technologically advanced.”
A clinical trial was conducted by Dr Urvanshi Batra, Gynecologist at People Tree Hospital Bengaluru, where users claimed relief of 7-8 on a scale of 10. It was conducted on 60 female patients between the ages of 18 and 35 years.
Using Welme is simple. On opening the package, you will find a control unit connected to several wires linked to four adhesive pads that are to be placed on the skin. The pads can be placed on either side of the lower back, the abdomen, or area of pain. Easy instructions in the kit help in placement of pads.
Once the pads are in place, the device can be turned on. You can start with the lowest setting and gradually increase the intensity. Once you find a comfortable setting, you can use the device throughout the day.
Most TENS units have an in-built timer, so that you don’t have to worry about overuse. You should keep checking the device every few hours to ensure the pads are in place and the intensity is to your comfort levels. Welme comes with a charging cord that can be plugged into a USB port or a standard outlet.
“TENS devices are non-invasive and have no side effects. There is no intake, use of chemicals or high voltage currents. The current has been developed with the frequency and volts as mentioned, and scientifically proven for managing menstrual pain,” Preksha says.
Welme is manufactured at the company’s plant in Changodar, Ahmedabad. The company is ISO 13485 certified and qualifies as quality medical product providers. According to Preksha, the product has also cleared the Class 2A medical device process for the European market.
Welme targets a female user base between 13-40 years. The product is currently available on its website for Rs 2,999. Launched in January this year, over 265 pieces have been sold in India and over 500 devices have been exported to the UK, France, and Spain.
Her co-founder and husband, Rahul, has more than a decade’s experience and expertise in the healthcare products industry and owns a few other brands - Companio, Exocool and CMAX. His specialisation is in creating products for pain management and muscle rehabilitation.
Preksha shares that Exocool is globally recognised as the only product available for naturally numbing injection pain and over the years, Companio has garnered a strong presence in the Indian market. It also exports to more than 12 countries.
The pandemic, Preksha points out had a great impact on Welme’s operations.
“We operate in a sector when buyers need to experience the product firsthand. Social distancing, nationwide lockdowns, and most importantly, the uncertainty and fear in the minds of people, truly set us back. It was difficult to give the desired experience of therapy to the people. However, just like any bad experience, COVID19 too, taught us a lot about the importance of going tech-savvy, integrating a digital-first approach, and benefits of offering a user-friendly as well as safe experience online or offline,” she says.
Preksha is optimistic about the future.
“Our study and research for our future developments are ongoing. We plan to continue to stay ahead of the curve with better, more advanced, and useful tech-driven healthcare products.”
Edited by Teja Lele