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Carina Kohli’s interest in women’s health stemmed from her own personal experience of dealing with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). She was diagnosed with PCOS when she was just 13-years-old, and since then, had always felt there was limited access to judgement-free healthcare, support, and expert-verified information when it came to women’s health in India.
She explains, “I come from a privileged background, so had access to good doctors, progressive parents, and family. But there was always this stigma around talking about body hair or fertility options as a growing woman. It was an isolating experience and while I was visiting doctors, I was experiencing long-term effects and also going through body-image issues.”
Now, at the age of 27, while Carina feels she is able to manage her PCOS, it took her close to 14 years to be able to do so.
And, while she is still plagued by hirsutism and weight gain at times, she has found what works for her.
The sum of these experiences and the realisation led to her start women’s health platform Baby Space in December 2020.
She had returned to India after completing her course in Business Management from the University of St Andrews, Scotland and also worked for while with her parents’.
“My parents have always been entrepreneurs. My father’s company manufactures security seals and my mother is into hospitality and is a chocolatier. I worked with both of them during summer breaks and also put in a stint at a family friend’s textile company,” she says.
In March 2020, Carina watched how COVID-19 put a huge strain on the healthcare system in India and began working on the idea of Baby Space, a content community platform that would offer expert-verified information on diverse topics.
She remembers speaking to a friend who was pregnant at the time and was traumatised at the thought of stepping out of the house and visit the hospital for a check-up.
The HUMM app
She explains, “This incident pushed me a little further in the women’s health space, and I started researching about it. There were so many women pregnant or new mothers without recourse to the right information. I spoke with 300 mothers and 40 doctors, and with a small team, built Baby Space.”
The platform shared information on pregnancy, conception, breastfeeding, and its relation to Covid, and also on sexual intimacy, surrogacy, adoption, and IVF. Carina believes it was a sort of a Beta version, which she hoped would pivot into something bigger over time.
In less than a year of its launch in December 2020, Baby Space grew organically to include more than 17,000+ parents on the platform.
Carina felt it was the right time to pivot and launch a healthcare company that offers unlimited, affordable, and personal family healthcare, starting with a focus on postpartum, postnatal, and baby healthcare, for mothers, families and organisations. She called it, meaning ‘us’ and would cover a gamut of services.
“We conducted a study of 640 parents based in Tier I and II cities and it alluded to a need for healthcare, especially during the post-natal, postpartum, and parenthood period. Most parents spoke about affordability and accessibility in one place – everything from OBGYN advice, mental health, stress, breastfeeding, family planning via non-judgemental doctors. We interacted with over 400 doctors and experts before launching HUMM,” Carina says.
HUMM currently offers two programmes–Baby Care and Post Delivery and Postpartum Care that includes unlimited video consultations, prescriptions/plans/notes from doctors, unlimited chats, yoga/fitness classes, in addition to access to a community that offers verified information.
While HUMM does not eliminate the need for physical consultations with doctors, it aims to build for the family and parenthood spectrum and went to market with a focus on 0-3 years period.
“We did this specifically because we found that most health products, companies, and services target the pregnancy period, and everything’s about the mother. But the moment the baby comes home, it’s all about the mother. There are so many issues a woman experiences in the 0-2 year period like postpartum depression, anxiety, withdrawal, guilt psychosis, breastfeeding and lactation issues and those related to sexual intimacy, and the transition back to work after maternity leave,” explains Carina.
Available on iOS and Android, HUMM’s community has 20,000 members and 52 experts that include OBGYN, psychiatrists, paediatricians, and non-medical experts like therapists, lactation consultations, nutritionists, behaviour and parenting coaches and life coaches. Humm was selected for and participated in the Stanford seed spark program and lead tribe by Blume ventures. It also works with Magnetic VC.
HUMM is also concentrating on the B2B2C segment, and is in consultation with different organisations and is running a pilot programme in a large one, hoping to work with employees on a variety of services–making sure they have the right maternity and family benefits.
“We are also launching different programmes to facilitate women’s return to work after maternity leave, and creating an inclusive culture in an organisation,” she adds.
While she believes being proactive for her is doing amazing care for women’s health, the target is a younger audience and more towards PCOS.
Global companies working in this space include Maven and Carrot Fertility, but HUMM plans to focus on the entire parenthood-maternity benefits in the B2B2C market.
“In the next six months, we are looking at 10 pilots in big organisations and aim to convert them,” she concludes.
Edited by Megha Reddy
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