There is No “Healthcare” Without Women’s Health: A Conversation with Amy Divaraniya & Priyanka Jain
By: Amber Quiñones, BBGV Head of Platform & Operations
To cap off Women’s History Month, we sat down to interview BBGV portfolio founders Amy Divaraniya (Founder & CEO of Oova) and Priyanka Jain (Co-Founder & CEO of Evvy) to discuss the state of women’s health. Read on for their takes on the future of femtech and why women’s healthcare needs to be treated as just… healthcare.
Why do you do what you do?
Amy Divaraniya: When I was going through my own journey with infertility, it opened my eyes to the gaps in the space and just how underserved women were. It instilled two goals for me which are the foundation for Oova — 1) Destigmatize infertility so families no longer suffer alone or in silence but rather can freely share their journeys with their friends and family, and 2) Empower women with information about their body so they can finally advocate for their own health. I want to give women the data they need to have informed, educated and objective conversations with their clinical teams about their health and fertility instead of simply using a pain scale to express their symptoms.
Priyanka Jain: Because women deserve better! To this day, women are diagnosed on average 4 years later than men across 770+ diseases. Given that women weren’t required to be in US clinical research until 1993, there is so much we still don’t know about how to best care for women and people with vaginas. Our aim is to close the gender health gap by discovering and leveraging female-specific biomarkers, starting with the vaginal microbiome.
Who is a female founder you look up to?
PJ: This isn’t a female founder, but I fiercely admire the women we’ve spoken to who have turned traumatic experiences in the healthcare system into the foundation for becoming their own advocates. They inspire us because they’re amazing detectives and educators and communicators — but most importantly, they ALWAYS come back and share their knowledge with their family & friends or in public forums like Facebook groups. They always leave the community more informed than they found it.
AD: I really look up to Dr. Alicia Jackson who is the CEO and Founder of Evernow, a company focused on menopause. Alicia has a heavy science background like me but has this deep desire to build and create. From the conception of Oova, Alicia has been the guiding light throughout my journey as a female entrepreneur which included advice on fundraising while pregnant, balancing work and maternity leave, coming back to work while leaving my baby at home, and continuing to grow Oova while navigating it all.
What is your vision for the future of women’s health?
AD: I believe the future of women’s health is a world where women, their bodies, and their clinical teams can have the same conversation. Women will be armed with the tools and data they need to understand their health so when they meet with their clinical team, it isn’t a one-sided conversation. Instead, women will be able to ask questions and ask for clarifications based on their own data.
PJ: I hope that women’s healthcare becomes just healthcare — and that our providers and tools are trained on the specific nuances of the female body. We hope that Evvy’s platform can contribute to this by building holistic definitions of what disease and health look like in diverse people, in addition to developing personalized care pathways that are grounded in data — not guesswork. Imagine a world where female health is finally understood: where risks are detected early and precisely; conditions are defined with specificity and nuance; and diseases are treated with personalization and care. That’s the world that Evvy is pioneering.
In your opinion, what are the biggest threats to your industry?
PJ: One of the biggest obstacles to women getting the vaginal healthcare they need is misinformation. The internet has tons of medically misguided advice on it, in addition to the constant beauty industry narrative that vaginas should look pristine and smell like flowers. In this sea of misinformation, I’m excited that Evvy is providing scientifically accurate and engaging education — as well as a product that can truly help people better understand their bodies.
AD: I think the biggest threat in this industry is that the bar for innovation has been too low for too long. For decades, the innovation in at-home fertility testing rested on a blinking smiley face. The industry has been too complacent when it comes to improving the standards for women’s health. We deserve better.
What is one goal you would like your company to achieve in the next year?
AD: We have many aggressive goals for Oova in 2022, but the one goal that I am most excited about is launching a groundbreaking fertility program with a large hospital network. The program challenges the way fertility clinics accept patients and enables patients to get personalized and expedited care, regardless of their medical history. I’m so passionate about this program because I feel like we’re moving the needle and forcing innovation in a space that hasn’t seen it in a long time.
PJ: I hope we will be able to leverage our platform to start building scientific and medical consensus around new definitions of “health” and “disease” in the vagina. But for Evvy, the vaginal microbiome is just the beginning. As we look ahead, we’re planning to expand into other critical biomarkers, products, and services that can transform how we diagnose and treat conditions in the female body. And we’re incredibly excited to build an active community of people talking about vaginal health and other “taboo” female health topics along the way!
What are you most proud of?
PJ: Besides building v1 of Evvy from scratch in less than a year… probably telling every venture capitalist / reporter in NYC about our experiences with chronic infections! It’s one thing to talk about destigmatizing vaginal health, but I’m proud that we’ve found ways to actually put that in practice — and encouraged our community to share their stories too.
AD: I am most proud of the launch of our pilot product during the heart of the pandemic. When NYC shut down in 2020, we made the decision to pivot our entire direct-to-consumer model and focus our efforts on a completely different customer: fertility clinics and healthcare providers. We were able to build a prototype and have it in the hands of our first clinic in less than 2 weeks. This pivot has now become our primary business model and we currently have over 90 clinics in the US utilizing our technology to do remote hormone monitoring of their patients.
What advice do you have for fellow female founders?
AD: Never lose sight of your why. There is a reason you had an idea and decided to turn it into a business. Being a founder is not for the faint of heart and it is a grueling marathon you’re running. However, if you truly believe in your why, that will pull you through some of the darkest moments and be the strongest driver for you to keep going on.
PJ: Some of the best advice I ever got was “Make yourself easy to help.” If you go to someone and say, “Can I pick your brain for 30 minutes?” that’s putting all the work on them: they have to make time, set up a calendar event, take the call, follow up with you, etc. For me, it has made a world of difference to do the disciplined work of identifying the concrete questions or asks I have, and reaching out with something more specific like “Hey, I’d love to be in touch with X person in your network, and I’ve included a ready-to-forward email below.” That way, others can help with a single button click! People naturally want to help if they can, and if you make it really easy, it’s a win for everyone.
At BBG Ventures, we are proud to back trailblazing founders rebuilding the world for women, underestimated and diverse consumers, and the 99%. Reach out and send us a pitch if your company is building within our thesis areas of: Health & Wellbeing, Future of Work & Education, Climate-Friendly Products & Platforms, and Overlooked & Emerging Consumers.
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