Women’s reproductive health and their emotional wellness is one of the most critical concerns in India. The need of women to talk, to share their issues in confidence and often they need their sharing to be anonymous and non-judgmental. Sneh Bhavsar (Co-founder) left his job to build a social enterprise which has a larger impact on people’s daily lives and founded a platform OoWomaniya with Krutika Katrat. OoWomaniya.com is an online platform for consultation with gynecologists, counseling for mental wellness and for information dissemination via SMS and offline letters. We talked to Sneh Bhavsar (Co-founder, OoWomaniya) to understand their venture. Have a look at the extraction from our conversation with Sneh.
What is OoWomaniya? What’s the idea and concept behind your startup?
228+ million Indian women are in reproductive age (15-45) at present. Women’s reproductive health and their emotional wellness is one of the most critical concerns in India, even documentarily established by the Government organizations. We conducted primary and secondary research to understand the need of this hour regarding women’s health. Our findings suggested the need of women to talk, to share their issues in confidence and often they need their sharing to be anonymous and non-judgmental. We understand that women’s health is at the core of health of families and so the health of the country.
Based on our research, we conceptualized to build a multi-faceted, multi-medium network to make the reproductive health related services, experts and information easily accessible to women and to overcome the socio-cultural hindrance, taboos, judgmental approaches and non-availability of the services. We want to realize this by providing an online platform for consultation with gynecologists, counseling for mental wellness and for information dissemination via SMS, offline letters along with building a network of experts, social enterprises, NGOs, community workers and local ambassadors.
Who are faces behind this startup?
Sneh Bhavsar (29, Co-founder & CEO) has a wide exposure as a Consultant in IT and Business Processes having 8 years of experience in this field with key expertise in business analysis, process design, communication design and resource management. Sneh holds a B. Hons. in Information Systems and Management from University of London, UK and a Diploma in Information Technology. His idea of success is “an impact a business can create” and that drives his passion for the kind of work he does.
Krutika Katrat (23, Co-founder & COO) is a postgraduate in Biotechnology with a background in basic research in structural and cancer biology with specialization in protein biochemistry. She believes in research and enterprises which are application based and have an ability to create an impact on their users. After her short spell at Tata Memorial Centre, she joined Venture Studio’s fellowship to discover and implement the possibilities of building a venture that can create an impact in healthcare/diagnostics domain.
How did you initiate OW? What is the story behind starting up OW?
We (Sneh and Krutika) got together in a venture design fellowship at Venture Studio, an innovation lab run by Ahmedabad University. We formed a team to bring IT and Healthcare domains together and started working towards need finding, how technology can impact human lives with their health and wellness? Following a few leads, we focused on women’s health and conducted a workshop at Venture Studio with 20+ women participants. This workshop proved to be the major milestone in defining the direction towards the solution we are offering.
What was the motive behind starting OW?
Providing a one stop solution for women regarding their reproductive health and mental wellness.
Why did you name it OoWomaniya?
As we were focusing on women’s health and the target group is ‘women in reproductive age’ (15-45 years of age) – it had to be a unique and attractive name for attracting their attention and not something medical or serious. This is from the song we all know, O Womaniya from Gangs of Wasseypur. The meaning of womaniya in this song is – a woman who is independent, individual and takes her own decisions. Along with the health we want to readily target the socio-cultural issues, taboos and myths towards making women more informed and empowered. For us, it is a movement which can go on for years.
How OW is different than other websites in same domain? What makes OW unique?
There are many websites already there in online consultation regarding health and wellness, online health information and sharing domain but as per our observation they are all mostly for generic health issues, with a prominent presence of male doctors/consultants and at times ambiguous to understand how to proceed. We are building a dedicated platform for women to access the experts (prominently females) in confidence and we will be focusing on achieving the trust factor and user experience through visual and communication design. Anonymous sharing will be one of the key factors of OW.
How much time and money did you invest in this venture?
We – co-founders are working on OoWomaniya from last 5 months and we have dedicated our full time to this. I (Sneh) left my job before more than a year and I wanted to pursue a social enterprise which has a larger impact on people’s daily lives. Krutika also could have chosen to work with any research/medical houses but she didn’t choose the cake walk and invested her time in building this venture. We are supported by Venture Studio in terms of infrastructure and operational expenses.
Tell us about the revenue model of your startup.
We want to give an easy access to women to consult regarding their health and wellness and we will be introducing different models in which they can use these services (consultation, counseling, personalized information, health tips etc.), for which they will be paying. We intend to provide multiple but simple options via diverse mediums (web, mobile, SMS, offline events etc.) so that users do not have to pay larger amounts for little services which they often need.
What’s the stats of your startup?
Ever since we launched our first prototype with basic functions, we have seen a good number of visitors coming to our site. Till date we have got around 3500+ page views in less than a month and we have nearly 50 registered users. We understand that this concept is new in India – socially and technologically and it requires a lot of education and awareness amongst women being the less privileged gender in India. But we are sure that with the efforts in the right direction, we’ll be able to change the way Indian women takes care of themselves and without depending on others.
Which challenges have you faced while converting your idea into reality?
Addressing women’s health in an Indian setting is one of the biggest challenges we face at all fronts. There are Government initiatives even in collaborations with international organizations, there are NGOs and there are support groups as well to facilitate information and medical services for women but the major challenge is to make the horse drink the water.
Which is the major challenge you are facing right now?
Getting the seed fund is the biggest challenge any start-up would face being in India, especially if it is not having visible transactions while pitching for the funds. Having met a few leading investment personnel, we sense the reluctance amongst investors for taking bigger risks even for a larger cause like ours. Everyone appreciates the idea and acknowledge the need of having such a platform but when it comes to investment, it may not be a simple walk. Our goal is to have a national and international impact regarding women’s mental and physical health. But we are determined to move ahead in whatever we have planned for the coming months.
What’s your future plan?
Reaching out to every woman in India who seeks help, advice, consultation or cure regarding their reproductive health and mental wellness. But before that we will have to educate and sensitize men and women towards any kinds of issues, problems and diseases occurring to women. Our next version will target urban and semi-urban females who have easy or occasional access to internet though computers and smart phones.
What else do you do except OW?
I have worked with several IT companies in London and Ahmedabad as a Business Analyst/Manager. I also work as a consultant with a few clients in India and overseas. I am expanding Stimulus Consultancy – an IT consultancy firm which I founded a year back to provide software, business and process consulting services. With Stimulus, I would like to execute small-time ventures which have local impact with a local touch. We often overlook the local needs in building larger systems and services. Fenil Parikh, an ex-Infosys technology analyst is a managing partner with me in Stimulus Consultancy.
What is Entrepreneurship according to you?
Entrepreneurship is passion, risk and freedom! I was watching this show called “The Apprentice” in UK when I was 20 years old. It was the first time when I heard someone saying, “I am an entrepreneur selling repairing tools online!” I just loved the idea of a management graduate selling tools online! It opened the doors of my thinking and ever since then I wanted to build a service or a product which can help people making their lives better. Entrepreneurship is not a profession, job or work – it is the way you live your life!
Which message would you like to give to upcoming entrepreneurs?
Well, I am too naïve to give any advice to the upcoming entrepreneurs. All I can say is what I experienced. “Fail and fail again to raise!” Developing an outstanding product or service is not enough, it is much more than that. One requires patience, conviction, empathy and faith in self and others too. Ventures which focus on the user need and envision the bold solutions will be the leaders in coming years.
What do you think about BuddyBits.com?
BuddyBits.com has come across as a very subtle platform in terms of content, design and approach. I personally find a genuine effort by BuddyBits.com to bring information, people and stories on the surface just like OoWomaniya is trying for women. We wish BuddyBits.com continues bringing interesting stories for people. Wish you all the best.
Anything else if you would like to add.
Be it BuddyBits or OoWomaniya, there is a quite positive atmosphere amongst young professionals in India and many of them are venturing into different spaces. It will be a key for all of us to come together and complement each other to contribute to a larger goal which is to improve the systems, improve the lives of people.