Hi Kasia. FEM-START is happy to be speaking with you today. Tell us, What inspired you to start your own business? What drove you to start Mamamoon?
My own story and my daughter’s birth. I come from Poland where pregnancy and birth are very medicalized. All my friends went for a C-section not because they had to, but because they were scared to do it in any other way. I had my children in the Netherlands where support and prenatal care is open to all approaches to childbirth. Throughout my whole pregnancy I never felt pushed in any direction. It was the opposite. All the options were on the table, my decisions were guided and respected.
Mamamoon focuses on preparing and supporting the mother towards a smoother birth and post-partum recovery. When pregnant with Lily, I joined a HypnoBirthing course with my husband, so I could learn more about birth, how to deal with fear during labor, and practice tools that would help me not to panic.When Lily was born I was shocked how ok her birth was. I started looking for ways to share what I’ve learned with other mamas-to-be. While still working at Philips Personal Health Solutions, I certified myself in pregnancy yoga, HypnoBirthing, Spinning Babies. And soon enough I got an idea to use digital health and behavioral change techniques to change other women’s perspectives on pregnancy and birth.
Because it’s truly needed: 50% of women is scared of giving birth, Up to 45 % of women experiences birth trauma, and up to 20% lives through postpartum depression. It’s huge! In costs for hospitals when it comes to interventions, employers who deal with low retention of women at work, and above all the effect on mothers and families dealing with health issues afterwards. The digital apps or programs out there are too generalized or focus on the baby exclusively, hence we aim to personalize guidance for parents where you can do it in your own time and it’s affordable.
What are some of the most essential steps and actions you took to get your business off the ground?
Nailing the product hook was step 1. We continuously tested the product, working hands in hands with pregnant women, and experts from the area of birth & postpartum. At the same time I was part of Antler cohort, where I would receive feedback from investors who were focused on finding that hook. So we could work through their feedback and fine tune the program together. Finding the right co-founder was step 2. I stepped in as a pregnancy domain expert, so I also had the network of birth and post-partum professionals to shape the content and development of the Mamamoon program. I had network of pregnant women who helped us build and test the program. But I didn’t have tech skills or funding to hire a company to build it for us. My co-founder, Remi, comes from a technical background. We started working together in January 2023, loved the collaboration, set up BV in March, and launched the MVP in October 2023.
Last but not least, it was the network of people who have been supporting us on the way. There was a moment when we were almost there but needed the last bit of money to pay for legal advice, and get the product launched. One of the Mamamoon experts, who happens to be also an advisor to finance investors, suggested a crowdfunding campaign, selected a platform and prepped it all for us. The other girl, ex-Uber from Moscow, currently a mindfulness trainer, ran the whole campaign end to end, and before we knew it, we had the money in the bank account to pay all the last charges.
How did you build your customer base and grow your business?
We have a very concrete target group: parents-to-be. It may be niche, but since it’s quite specific, it also allows us to find them easier. We look for right collaborations with domain experts, such as midwives, physiotherapists, yoga schools, massage therapists, etc. We also work closely with selected brands that are active in pregnancy and parenting space, such as Naif Care, Lillydoo, Easywalker. And with start-ups that just like us love to collaborate, Vini Mini being just one of them. In 2024 we will be also active at the main pregnancy events, starting with Negenmaandenbeurs in Amsterdam in February.
What are some of the biggest mistakes you made along the way, and what did you learn from them?
We made plenty of mistakes along the way as all founders do. I would say when we were in exploration mode, we wasted time caring about people’s opinions and unsolicited feedback. We struggled with moving forward and prioritizing giving value to what we actually wanted to focus on.
I also wasted too much time on explaining the Mamamoon problem. I used to talk about improving women’s health. Until I sat down with one of my advisors, a white Dutch guy, who told me point blank: ‘You have to face the fact that you are addressing a problem which 50% of the population do not consider a problem. Unfortunately, that same 50% usually sit in the positions which will define whether your product is applicable for their employees, or if they like to invest in it.’ I asked him then: ‘What if I start talking about the money they lose with every mother not coming back from her maternity leave? With every pregnant woman not delivering her work due to feeling bad when pregnant and postpartum? Would they understand that?’ His immediate answer being: ‘Definitely!’
So we changed the story. We don’t pitch improving the experience of women when pregnant and postpartum to investors and employers anymore. We are giving them numbers of cost saving instead. Costs of postpartum depression, sick leave of women when pregnant and postpartum, costs of replacing a mother-employee who decided to stop working after giving birth (which is nota bene 150% of her annual salary). And it works magic as an opening statement.
What is your biggest achievement since founding the company, and how did you get there?
Getting the app out there in such a short time. I started working with my co-founder only January 2023 and we launched it in October. We already have our first reviews, first customers and paid-customers! It’s very humbling to see.
What advice would you give to aspiring female entrepreneurs, particularly those who do not believe they can do it?
If you feel it is your calling, go for it! You cannot always plan it, and it often feels as there is no right moment to start. If your whole body tells you ‘do it’, then do it! At least give it a shot. Worst thing that can happen is that you will learn A LOT. Do not take things personally. If your business is your baby, it’s difficult, but the truth is that we need to learn to receive the difficult feedback, learn how to ignore the comments that we may not like, and focus instead on what’s adding value to your product and yourself.
When I joined the Antler program I received lots of difficult feedback from entrepreneurs and investors alike. At those cohort programs, they focus on your business case, product development and market feasibility. In my case, I ‘put my pride in a pocket’, took lots of feedback on the product, market, go-to-market, etc., and in the end I implemented the given feedback and it was positive! The satisfaction from starting and building your business is simply something else. The energy you get from it is mind-blowing. Like jumping from an airplane – scary as hell, but makes you want to jump again and again.
What’s next for Mamamoon? Anything we can look forward to?
A lot! The app today gets great feedback, but it’s just MVP. We are working to add shortly the partner program, which can be for a partner, but can also be for a sister, mother, or a best friend. The goal of the program is same: assist mother-to-be towards smoother birth. We are also working on the AI-assisted coaching, where you have more engagement and receive instant guidance. And we are looking into getting a medical proof for the app. Women’s health does not have enough research so we’d like to bridge this gap.
Those are the main points for 2024. We are also setting base for addressing the after birth and postpartum time. Talking to potential partners, and experts from the field of parenting, mental health and relationship care. Pregnancy is just the start for us. We had to focus somewhere so we started here. But every parent knows that after childbirth the questions do not go away. We can definitely make a difference during that time as well.
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