Anjali, Ganga and Suma -three qualified and enterprising women came together and co founded ILove9Months.com. Their vision helps many pregnant women and young mothers to access products and services to make their life easy and memorable during and after the 9 months.
There is lack of awareness and resources which we solve through our mobile app. Lack of support in the nuclear family situation is solved by our home care service- Sahodari and Lack of infrastructure for continued breastfeeding is solved by our breastfeeding/lactation pods.
Give a brief info about your startup?
Our vision has always been to enrich the life of pregnant women and moms by creating affordable and accessible products and services for various pain points they face during their journey of motherhood. The name of the company- ILove9Months comes from our vision. We want every mother to enjoy her 9 months of pregnancy and beyond!
Our Products and Services can be categorised as Mobile App for accessible, virtual support and premium home care support and Infrastructure Product – the Breastfeeding Pod for Public Places and Lactation Pod for Corporate offices.
What made you start your startup and what problem does it solve?
I was researching for a business plan competition about the maternity industry and the data was shocking. Women in India lack support, information and facilities during pregnancy and motherhood. There are pain points at every part of the journey and no one was addressing it. In some situations it was sheer ignorance and that led to women not even knowing that they are actually not in the ideal situation and there can be steps taken to improve their pregnancy and post pregnancy period. As I spoke to experts from the industry, the data was validated. At the same time in Ganga’s studio, there were women from all walks of life coming to her for advice to be healthy during and after pregnancy. That’s when we decided that we wanted to create something of our own to solve these pain points and our third co-founder joined in. Thus myself Anjali (COO), Ganga (Director, Wellness) and Suma Ajith (Director Operations) gave birth to our baby ilove9months.com.
Our startup solves the problem of accessibility, availability and affordability of maternity wellness support services in India. There is lack of awareness and resources which we solve through our mobile app. Lack of support in the nuclear family situation is solved by our home care service- Sahodari and lack of infrastructure for continued breastfeeding is solved by our breastfeeding/lactation pods.
Tell us about yourself, your previous jobs/ventures? What were you doing before this startup?
After I completed my Masters, I was working as a childbirth and lactation educator at Fortis Bangalore. I got offered a fully funded PhD from Warwick Medical School and that’s when I quit my job to pursue my PhD and my venture at the same time. I always wanted to be an entrepreneur because I wanted to do a lot and a job doesn’t give you that freedom or space. I am ambitious and I wanted to ensure that my solutions reach people irrespective of geography or income status.
Where is your startup based out of? Why do you think that is the best place for you?
We are currently based out of Trivandrum and Hyderabad. We are funded by KSIDC and KSUM. We are incubated at KSUM. In Hyderabad, we are incubated by T-Hub and accelerated by ISB SAP. The Kerala government has been increasingly supportive of our work and have given us the scope to scale in the state.
As a startup founder, what are you paranoid about? What keeps you awake at night?
As a startup founder, one thing that always keeps us worried is funding and finances in general.
Who are your competitions and how are you better than them?
There are plenty of players in the pregnancy and post pregnancy space, be it apps, aggregators or websites. We believe we are the only ones involved in the full journey of motherhood to give them physical and emotional support through technology and infrastructure. We focus on ways to improve maternal and infant health.
How hard is it to have a work-life balance as a startup founder and how do you manage it?
It is very hard to maintain a work-life balance, especially with my PhD going on. To be honest, it’s not always a balanced scenario, some days are much more taxing and you just have to push through it. I take small weekend breaks to travel and reboot my system before getting back to work again.
Have you raised funding? If yes, then we would like to know the details. If no then please tell us if you’re looking to raise?
We have been seed funded by two major state government agencies- KSIDC and KSUM. Other than that, it is friends and family and few HNI funding. The HNI’s who have invested come with extensive networks, industry experience and possibilities of future joint ventures.
We are now in the process for an Angel / Early Stage Startup Fund to boost our growth.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about you? Why do they have that? What’s the reality?
I come across as an extrovert, which is probably due to the nature of my job. However, as a person, I am a hard core introvert.
What gets you excited about this company?
The one thing that keeps us going and excited is the fact that our work has direct impact on the mother and her baby. The effect of what we do can be seen and felt. It’s a combination of emotional and tangible benefits for our customers.
Tell us how a day in your life looks like? Your schedule for a day right from the time you get up till you hit the bed at night.
I shuttle between UK and India as I am towards the end of my PhD now. These past few months I have been living in Coventry, UK.
On a regular day, my day starts early at 5: 30-6 am. I make myself coffee and start working on ILove9Months tasks as I need to factor in the time zone difference between India and UK. By 11:30-12, I go to my office at the University and work on my PhD. After the days work, I try to hit the bed by 9:30-10 at the latest so that I am fresh when I wake up. I ensure I get at least 7 hours of sleep daily.
In this routine of mine, I also mentor and supervise MSc students, I teach a few sessions and work on improving the entrepreneurship environment at the University with Warwick Enterprise team.
Weekends are when I take out time to catch up with friends, take weekend holidays, read, paint and just relax.
Tell us about your team and how did you meet each other?
Ganga is a wellness expert with 18+ years of experience in various forms of fitness regimens. Suma is a healthcare operations expert with 22+ years in the Indian and Australian healthcare system. As a team, we complement each other with subject matter, operational knowledge and experience. Later on Rajkumar, our CEO joined us. He comes with 25+ years in senior leadership corporate experience in marketing, strategy and business transformation.
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