#Asia How a pregnancy app made it into Facebook’s startup program


Photo credit: Michelle Tribe.

Photo credit: Michelle Tribe.

By week 4, she is as big as a poppy seed. By week 5, she is like a lentil. By week 7, she has bloomed into a raspberry. Who is she? For those who haven’t guessed already, she is the baby in the womb.

Ok now, what’s a Mombie? (I’ll give you a hint – it is what I turn into in the dark hours.) Well, nothing scary. It’s just what you call an exhausted mommy who is staying up late because she is craving kid-free time.

Frankly, I have felt like a Mombie almost every single day since my kids were born. So it was with amusement and a sense of solidarity that I discovered the term on Healofy, a pregnancy and babycare app that I recently downloaded on my phone.

Going by the content, you may never guess that the two co-founders of Healofy are both very young and both men.

The peer-to-peer platform is building an online community of moms, expectant parents, and doctors by letting them interact freely around the theme of pregnancy and parenting.

Moms, especially, can be a huge source of support for each other at a time when traditional joint families have disappeared in cities, pretty much leaving pregnant and new mothers to cope with biological and emotional changes on their own.

Going by the deeply personal and sometimes anxious questions mommies shoot on Healofy, the startup has its finger on their pulse. It has garnered 600 daily active users in just a few months. It was recently chosen by Facebook for the FbStart program, which helps early stage mobile startups build and grow their apps.

Going strictly by the content, though, you may never guess that the two co-founders of Healofy are both very young and both men.

Two men and Mombies

Healofy co-founders Shubham Maheshwari and Gaurav Aggarwal.

Healofy co-founders Shubham Maheshwari and Gaurav Aggarwal.

Gaurav Aggarwal is a 2015 batch IIT graduate who worked at GoZoomo. Shubham Maheshwari is a computer science graduate who worked on Flipkart’s seller-side fraud detection platform. The two school friends teamed up for the medical consultation app Ozone last year.

While the startup wasn’t able to attract enough patients, perhaps because it was a paid service, the experience taught them how to do things right next time – they would have to focus more on the team, culture, product design, and positioning.

‘Next time’ happened with Healofy in May this year.

“Our content and Q&A is user-generated. So the flavor is engaging, snacky yet relevant to keep women in a positive and happy information space. We are just moderating the content,” Gaurav tells Tech in Asia.

In a market that is beginning to buzz with parenting startups like Parentune, MyChild App and Tinystep, Healofy claims to be growing 22 percent week by week in terms of daily active users.

“It was due to our traction numbers that we were selected for the Facebook startup program,” says Gaurav. Healofy was chosen for “its impressive development so far and its potential for continued growth.”

The startup is eligible to receive up to US$40,000 in free tools and services from Facebook and has access to over 30 partners, including Amazon, UserTesting, Dropbox, and MailChimp.

On Google Play Store, I find a 4.8 rating and rave reviews for Healofy. What is making this app click?

Gaurav thinks it is the peer-to-peer content. “There are many parenting sites, but most of them work like a media company. They create their own content,” says Gaurav. He points to two problems with that. “One, as people consume a lot of content in this journey, the same type of content gets boring and loses user engagement and interest. Two, there is no network effect.”

User-generated content is a big hit for sure. For instance, Mycity4kids, one of India’s oldest parenting sites, is hugely popular because of blogs by mommies.

Healofy’s app has a lively presence, but its Facebook page is still weak. So I wonder why the startup doesn’t have a website of its own.

“We are building a habit forming product,” says Gaurav. “Since people already consume a lot of content daily and get multiple doubts around their health and fitness, it makes more sense to focus on a mobile app which will work like a personal virtual assistant for them.”

Plus, there’s another reason: limited resources. It may therefore be a few more months before a website happens.

That crazy business of parenting

Someone I know once stated rather emphatically that having a child was no different from having a dog or cat. With due respect to those who love their pets, I beg to differ.

Photo credit: Niels Kliim.

Photo credit: Niels Kliim.

For one, the warm, sympathetic, loving looks bestowed by perfect strangers on a new mom or a mom-to-be are not quite the same when it comes to a pet owner! Neither can the anxiety levels suffered by expectant parents be compared to those of bringing a pet home.

On a more serious note, I remember my second pregnancy when a lab test showed I was at high risk of having a baby with Down Syndrome. At my wit’s end, I spoke to an endless number of people – family members, general physicians, gynaecologists, amniocentesis experts. Well-wishers strictly advised me against surfing the internet on the subject as it could drive up my stress levels and harm the baby.

Finally, I went with the advice that my heart was most at peace with – I would get no further confirmatory tests done as this could be invasive, and would keep the baby come what may. My baby was born perfectly healthy, but I still get gooseflesh remembering those weeks when I hung on to every word of advice.

That is why I find Healofy in the right space.

“Moms and moms-to-be discuss their doubts and problems with other moms and moms-to-be who are facing the same problems,” says Gaurav.

Thankfully, doctors are part of this online community – a presence that I think is vital. For instance, when a 34-week pregnant woman says she has not felt baby movements for four days, the replies from moms range from cautious to anxious to reassuring. But the most comprehensive answer is provided by Healofy experts: that she should put up her feet, have a snack or a cold drink, and lie on her side – tricks that almost always work – and if she still can’t feel any movement, she should visit a doctor.

The startup doesn’t monetize yet, but Gaurav sees many possibilities. They could charge lead generation/commission fees from maternity service verticals like ecommerce for baby products, or even tie up with hospitals and labs.

“If we succeed in building a habit-forming product, there are multiple business opportunities as people spend a lot of their disposable income in this journey,” says Gaurav.

This post How a pregnancy app made it into Facebook’s startup program appeared first on Tech in Asia.

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