OoWomaniya.com, co-founded by Krutika Katrat, Sneh Bhavsar and Varun Varunesh is an exclusive online network platform for women’s health and wellness, which provides a safe and non-judgmental platform to women for online consultation regarding their emotional, physical and intimate health. It is a multi-faceted platform for women to “know-share-speak” about their emotional and intimate health issues, doubts and questions. The primary goal is to create a safe space for women to be able to share personal problems which is one of the major concerns in India. Socio-cultural barriers add to the resistance. OoWomaniya engages experts like psychologists, counselors, fitness trainers and gynecologists, sexologists, General Physicians to provide consultation and health related services online and offline. OoWomaniya acts as a network to connect women with similar problems, experts, NGOs and other women-centric organizations, services and products. (http://www.oowomaniya.com/)
Krutika Katrat, hailing from Ahmedabad, holds an M.Tech degree in Bio-Technology. She has studied in Pune and worked in Mumbai as a Research Trainee at Tata Memorial Centre at Advanced Centre for Treatment, Research and Education in Cancer (ACTREC). Her research work was based on molecular level characterization and binding characteristics of an anti-cancer protein. Bit by the entrepreneurial bug, she founded OoWomaniya along with Sneh Bhavsar on May 31, 2013.
Entrepreneurship, why?……..She says, it was ingrained in her genes, having been the daughter of a first generation entrepreneur. Most importantly, it was her desire to do something which is application based and is impactful in the field of healthcare. Her solution oriented approach towards problems and risk taking appetite just propelled her to take this plunge despite of the initial apprehension by her family even though they come from an entrepreneurial background. But her conviction in the idea has kept her going.
OoWomaniya?……..Women’s healthcare in India is quite a niche area to venture into, specifically when females are very reluctant to discuss/talk about their health issues openly given the socio-cultural stigma and judgmental nature of the society. Some women are just complacent with issues regarding their health, be it petty issues or sometimes even bigger problems, whether they are psychological or physical. The picture is worse in the rural areas, as their proper survival is the real struggle and government and NGOs are considerably working on them. And hence, this idea was taken up by Krutika very passionately and she gave birth to this platform called OoWomaniya. She took up a 6 month fellowship program at Venture Studio, an incubator based out of Ahmedabad, set up in collaboration with Ahmedabad University and Stanford. There she met Sneh Bhavsar, a techie, who also wanted to do something in healthcare and they jointly put in blood and sweat to create this beautiful platform with mentoring and guidance of Venture Studio. A few months later, an MNC dropout Varun Varunesh, joined them in their vision of building something of a great impact in the field of women’s healthcare.
Road ahead was not easy!………Women don’t talk or are rather apprehensive of talking about intimate stuff like sexual health, periods, breast care, relationships and come with a socio-cultural baggage. This unexplored or rather unsolved problem is perceived by all of us, but, Krutika took it up as a problem which needs to be solved. There is a need for preventive care and health awareness among women belonging to all strata of society. OoWomaniya is aiming at bridging the information asymmetry by providing a non-judgemental platform. Intensive field research work in rural areas and cities has gone into understanding the reasons for this lack of awareness about one’s body/health. As she narrates, they have carried out offline research by means of telemedicine vans in around 9 villages and she was surprised with some responses. One lady was highly diabetic but still chose to have 3 teaspoons of sugar in her tea daily and when made aware about the harmful effects, she just wanted to continue doing so!. Such blatant revelations are indeed challenging to address specially in rural areas where proper medical awareness is highly lacking.
Impact so far?……..OoWomaniya has touched around 5 lakhs users till date in 2 years through blog/consultation/workshops held by OoWomaniya. In fact, majority of the users are via mobile medium and the remaining via website/tablets/offline media. Most importantly, the varied, informative and quality of content on the platform has been instrumental in creating the “PULL”.
The tipping point?…….She says, there has been not just one but multiple tipping points in this journey so far. She says, it is highly gratifying to hear each time, when a user gives feedback out of a consultation/ workshop, that, “Krutika, I didn’t know about this. Thanks for making me aware about my body/health. This has really helped me”. This is the high point of working for OoWomaniya for her. Nothing but overwhelming is the feeling, she says.
Who’s been the guiding torch?……Well, everybody needs a mentor in life. Her dad being an entrepreneur has inspired her to become one. They might have entirely divergent thoughts on business but she really enjoyed the discussions. Moreover, she believes there is something to learn from each person at all levels of life. Even there is something to learn from the Maharaj who cooks at her home and several other places and works hard to deliver his best, every single day.
Working style?…….She sincerely believes in being solution oriented towards small or big problems. It’s an immensely transparent working culture at OoWomaniya and she says, we hire people, not job profiles. She gladly exclaims, “#SochoMatPucho is our tagline 🙂 ”.
Felt like giving up at any point of time?……Luckily, that has never happened J. There were many challenges like the immediate perception of OoWomaniya being an NGO, dependency of the entire business model on expected behavioural change of users (as women don’t ask anything offline when it comes to health issues or rather don’t trust online methodologies)and the unavoidable why-should-I-pay attitude. Scalability of business model was under the scanner of the angel investors. Traction was a challenge initially but then that is there in all types of businesses. But she says their business idea has always been appreciated and lauded by investors and eventually, things on the traction and business end have fallen into place.
Other passions…..how do you unwind?……..She loves watching sitcoms, the favorite being F.R.I.E.N.D.S :). Besides, she loves watching movies and reading novels especially the Classics. She recently finished reading The Fountainhead. Often, she does indulge in aerobics and loves to dance.
Can women really have it all?……..Yes, if you have an eco-system to support which is extremely crucial. She says, “There will always be 10 reasons for not doing something but if you have faith in just 1 reason, then you can sail through.”….”Just have fire in the belly!”
One advice for other fellow entrepreneurs…..Pivot and pivot quickly, when it’s needed to, otherwise you might be landing up in dire situations for yourself and your startup.
Interviewer: Sangeeta Patel