Amy Divaraniya had enjoyed a comfortable career in data science when she realized she had another calling. After she faced struggles conceiving her son, Amy decided to build a solution to help women with their fertility. OOVA is an at-home test that measures multiple hormones through urine samples and provides personalized results and insights. In this episode of Shopify Masters, Amy shares with us the essential questions to ask when conducting market research and the challenges of being a female founder.
- Store: Oova
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Bringing innovation to a traditional market
Felix: Tell us about your product and why it differs from competitors.
Amy: Oova is an at-home test that monitors multiple hormones through urine. We are the only test in the market that can identify most fertile days and confirm convolution in a cycle. In addition, it's a completely personalized experience. We learned what every woman's unique hormone baseline levels are and then we detect fluctuations by comparing to that. We're not comparing a woman to some standard threshold or that perfect woman that we all know doesn't actually exist. It's all based on her own data. From that, we can understand what her fertility profile is. The way we're able to do that is we're actually a quantitative test. You're not just getting a blinking smiley space, or trying to see if there's this ghost line present on your test. You're getting an actual number for both hormones every day that you use the Oova test.
Felix: I’m surprised bigger brands haven’t caught on to this. How did you know what features you wanted to include in the tests?
Amy: It's funny. I got that question from my husband on a daily basis. He's like, "How do you know people want this?" I'm like, "Well, I want this so I'm assuming there are at least 10 other women that want this too." So far, my gut has been right. But the reason that I have really good insight into this space is because I went through my own journey with infertility and it opened up my eyes to the gaps in the space. The question you asked actually has a much broader answer. Women's health just hasn't been given the importance that it deserves. Larger companies have not prioritized innovating in this space. Until Oova came out, it was fine to just provide a woman with a blinking smiley face. That is not innovation and it's ridiculous for a woman to have to rely on that. We deserve to know what's going on inside of our bodies and we're really trying to embrace that.
Felix: What challenges did you face throughout all the stages of development?
Amy: One thing to keep in mind is that my background is really heavy on the science side. The way that I went about developing this product is I dove into making sure that the data and the product were meaningful. I didn't come up with something like, "Okay, we need to figure out how to fix fertility or ovulation tracking or make a dent in women's health." That was definitely a driver for me personally, but when it came to the product, what I was focusing on was the solution. What I wanted to figure out was how do we identify a solution that can accurately measure biomarkers or hormones in the privacy of a person's home? How do we bring a clinic into a consumer's house? That's the underlying foundation for Oova. That method allows us to address our product from a scientific standpoint. How can we identify which biomarkers to go for and what are our success metrics? How are we able to hit those? You're dealing with chemistry and science here versus a use case. The use case and the marketing is a completely different problem than getting a technology supply chain to work because it's a very set protocol that you're following.
Felix: It was a long R&D process. Did you face a lot of pressure to get to market asap once you had a product?
Amy: That's more of an internal pressure than anything external, right? There were a lot of moments throughout our journey where I was like, "Man, ours is so much better than what these guys are doing. Let's just put it out there." But it wasn't fully validated yet. It wasn't hitting all the success metrics that I had set for the company and so, we held back. Sitting on the side lines can be frustrating because there's a lot of players in this space and they have beautiful branding and a huge marketing budget. We've never had that. We've been relying on the fact that we have a product that works. To be quite honest, the pandemic forced us and gave us a huge opportunity to pivot our model pretty substantially. It's actually putting us ahead of the game without having to go down that massive rabbit hole or that hamster wheel having a bigger marketing budget.