The Creative Mornings breakfast lecture series hosted Gina Nebesar last week for a very special morning segment and we couldn’t be more excited about all things women’s healthtech. Nebesar is co-founder and chief product officer of Ovia Health, digital healthcare technology for women and families in various stages of parenting. The Ovia apps – including Ovia Pregnancy & Baby Tracker, Ovia Fertility & Ovulation Calculator and Ovia Baby – help women track the various stages of pre and post-pregnancy and everything in between.
Nebesar spoke at the CIC in Boston as part of Creative Mornings’s lecture series, and following a strong networking session with free coffee and donuts (shout out to High Brew Coffee and Union Square Donuts for the complimentary goodies) Nebesar offered her expertise in the industry.
After starting her career as an engineer creating vending machines and satellites, Nebesar moved on to Harvard Business School, where she started Automatic Apparel vending machines that offered non traditional vending items like t shirts, headphones, umbrellas, and the like. And an impressive beginning led her to even more impressive ventures, like Ovia, where she’s currently helping millions of women and families lead healthier, happier lives.
But as many of us are well aware, it’s not all fun and games in female health. Nebesar nodded to the major taboo surrounding women’s health, but believes Ovia is creating valuable conversation. “Women are taught to be ashamed of their health from their first interaction with it: their period,” she said. And although Nebesar grew up in a “very conservative home,” her ideas were progressive and she can attest that the power of conversation can change that.
Nebesar then let us in on more than her personal story, guiding us through some steps in her entrepreneurial route to success.
On difficulties starting out in a taboo industry…
One of the biggest struggles for Nebesar was raising seed money. She said she walked into a lot of board rooms of all men, who called the product “niche.” “Women’s health is niche!?” Nebesar joked.
On increasing user engagement…
Nebesar said most of Ovia’s growth is word of mouth. She highlighted adding value and creating quality content as opposed to worrying about crazy user usage numbers. “Establish a formula for retaining users,” she said, and then begin your outreach.
On standing out from the ‘period tracker’ crowd…
- Accuracy and personalization
- Predicting the unpredictable in ovulation
- Voice – “Ovia is like a friend. She talks to you with respect,” Nebesar said. Of the tone: “it’s incredibly respectful, lighthearted yet serious.”
On user testing…
“We talk to our users every single day. The users *basically* build the platform” (looking to her web designer, Lia, who actually builds the platform). According to Nebesar, the Ovia team tracks feedback hardcore.
And as for advice in addressing the taboo that is women’s health, Nebesar urges everyone (you too, men!) to move the discussion forward. Ask the decision makers in your life what they’re doing for women’s healthcare. Keep the conversation going, because as Nebesar so eloquently put it, “women’s health is a beautiful thing. It’s the origin of life. It’s why we’re all here.”
HTVN would like to extend a huge thanks to Gina for opening up the conversation – in this realm and so many others – and to Creative Mornings for hosting our first of (soon-to-be) many creative wake-ups.
Gina is a mentor to young women interested in engineering, tech and entrepreneurship and happy to speak with entrepreneurial hopefuls in the industry. Connect with her at firstname.lastname@example.org or through LinkedIn and stay up-to-date with Creative Mornings for more information on their exciting and innovative speaker series.