Chat with Dr. Raoul Scherwitzl and Dr. Elina Berglund, Co-founders of Natural Cycles
Your Friend in Need: Natural Cycles
Founded in June 2014 by physicist couple Dr. Elina Berglund and Dr. Raoul Scherwitzl, European startup Natural Cycles is a subscription-based app that lets users track fertility by analyzing women’s body temperature. With this, you will come to know your ovulating and fertile period. Basically, Natural Cycles is a female health-oriented startup that offers fertility tracking service.
What’s the Buzz?
Recently, Natural Cycles raises $6 million in Series A round of funding led by Swedish venture fund Bonnier Growth Media
Ques. Where did the idea of Natural Cycles come from?
Ans. The idea of Natural Cycles came from my own need for a natural birth control. My husband and I were planning a future pregnancy so, in the meantime, I decided to give my body a chance to recover from 10 years of hormonal contraception – and this inspired my search for a natural way to prevent pregnancy.
Ques. Recently, Natural Cycles has raised funds of $6 Million. So, any upcoming funding rounds in the future? Or these funds are sufficient for sustaining the business?
Raoul: Yes, there will be more financing rounds in the future. We are currently running a healthy business, but would like to make some further investments in building the team as well as in clinical research which requires additional funds.
Ques. Since, your revenue model is subscription-based; what are your subscription charges?
Elina: You subscribe on a yearly basis for $6 per month, or on a monthly basis for $10 per month.
Ques. There are many fertility tracking apps in the market like Fertility Friend, Conceivable, Kindara etc. What is different about Natural Cycles that tempts the users to download it one stroke?
Elina: Most of the fertility apps make primarily use of period tracking to approximate when a woman ovulates (by simply subtracting 13 days from the next expected menstruation day). This may be good enough for pregnancy planning, but is very risky when used to prevent pregnancies. Natural Cycles developed a proprietary algorithm, which makes use of temperature data in order to distinguish between fertile and non-fertile days. Temperature rises after ovulation and is therefore an excellent indicator that ovulation has happened and there is no longer a risk of pregnancy.
Raoul: Natural Cycles is also unique in the sense that we are the only app that has performed a large scale clinical study on the effectiveness of the app for contraception. The results showed that it improves the use of natural family planning to a level where it compares favourably to pharmaceutical solutions. In addition, we are also regulated as a medical device (CE-marked) and approved by regulators.
Ques. What is your take on ‘Couple Entrepreneurship’? Do you enjoy it or are the decisions tough to make?
Elina: I love it! We like doing everything together. And since Natural Cycles is more than a job for us, it is also our hobby and passion, it is very nice to share this passion with each other.
Raoul: I agree – it depends on the relationship, but in our case, I have a hard time seeing a better way than to combine career ambition with family life. It’s great to share and discuss our successes and challenges at home.
Ques. What challenges have you faced in the budding stage? How have you’ll together dealt with it?
Elina: We started Natural Cycles out of a personal need. We knew that we were doing something good for society, something that women both need and want. We were surprised by the skepticism that we faced from doctors and regulators, it felt like they did not want us to be on the market.
Raoul: More and more women are turning to Natural Cycles as their trusted app of choice for natural pregnancy planning, and the medical world is starting to realise how well Natural Cycles performs in clinical studies. We are now working with regulators to convince them that society will benefit from increasing contraceptive choice and education.
Ques. What marketing strategies do you adopt to promote ‘Natural Cycles’?
Elina: We focus a lot on delivering a product that our users love, which they really do if you look at our consistently high App Store ratings.
Raoul: We find a good balance between reaching consumers and engaging healthcare professionals.
Ques. Any advice/ tips for women who have contraceptive pills on regular basis?
Elina: Like with any contraceptive, it is important that women are well informed about the pros and cons for each method, such that they can make an informed choice as to what suits them best.
Ques. Is India a lucrative market for such apps? Because, even talking about periods and related things are considered as a taboo here. Though the scenario is gradually changing, but it will take time.
Elina: India is obviously an interesting market both because of its size and mobile coverage.
Raoul: Contraception is important everywhere in the world – in the Western world, it’s more about increasing choice, while in other places it’s about making access to contraception easy and scalable. Natural Cycles can help with both.
Ques. What are your future plans? (both, short and long term)
Elina: Our app is widely used in the Nordics, now we want to focus on bringing it to other markets such as the UK & US.
Raoul: We want a world where every pregnancy is wanted – the best way to get there is by increasing choice and awareness on education about reproductive health. There’s a lot of work to be done here!
Ques. Few words of motivation for couples, who have an idea.
Elina: If you have a common dream and like spending 24h together, then there is nothing better than sharing this journey.
Raoul: I agree – small tips: define your roles & responsibilities well, separate private from work emotions, don’t fight, make love.
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