“When a woman is designing a product for a woman, I think it makes more sense.” – Padmini Janaki, Co-Founder, Mind and Mom
“Our app is specially designed for pregnant women. Having this platform during pregnancy is like having your own mother there for you, taking care and telling you about everything in a much more scientific way and sensible manner. So there’s no reason why someone shouldn’t use this application while they are pregnant,” explained Padmini Janaki about her app Mind and Mom in a conversation with Startup Story Media.
Women’s healthcare and her pain have been historically proven to be ignored in startling medical biases, as revealed in the latest studies. While the problem is something which is gaining more attention in the mainstream media and social platforms, awareness about this bias is still not widespread. When Padmini Janaki decided to address this issue, she had to face many challenges that came from the lack of awareness around women’s health. Let’s go on her journey and see how she overcame those issues to come up with Mind and Mom, pregnant women’s guide through pregnancy.
Starting out small
Padmini had been working as a product manager for 6 years at PayPal but she always wanted to do something in healthcare. She never had this opportunity until she finally landed a chance to work as a product manager for a US-based startup in healthcare. The company was small, but it gave her a chance to explore healthcare and that was the work which helped her realise how passionate and fascinated she was by healthcare and technology.
She tells Startup Story Media, “Being a product manager, I always wanted to have my own business, but without any previous experience, I wasn’t too sure about it. But when I went into healthcare, I was so stunned to see what all was happening there- how technology and healthcare together could save lives.”
After working there for one and a half years, Padmini, along with her colleague, Suganya Venkatachalam, co-founded Mind and Mom. “We used to talk about healthcare, especially women’s health. Women go through so many difficult times during their pregnancy. Even situations like PCOD, lifestyle issues are affecting women more than men in general. So we thought about it and decided that this was something we could do,” she said.
Padmini tells us that even though she has indeed started her own business now, she was never unhappy in a corporate job.
She tells Startup Story Media, “I think I am not someone who is against a corporate job or something because I have been in a corporate job for ten years and I have always enjoyed it. But entrepreneurship had always been running in my mind, you know, as I wanna start something of my own. It’s not like I’m against one thing or more inclined to another thing, I just wanted to try it, try having my own vision and working towards it.”
Starting her own venture has indeed changed Padmini in some ways and brought a new perspective in her life.
“Now I have more responsibility. When you are in a corporate job, you can be responsible but there is always a kind of freedom, but here you have to be more responsible and capable for people who are working for your passion or dream. Another change has been in relationship-building – now you can’t give up on people easily. I think now I pay more attention to relationship-building,” she says.
A product by a woman, for women
Padmini says that she has herself used several other platforms which were made for women but she wasn’t always completely satisfied by them. “When I used to use these different platforms and apps designed for women, I often felt there were certain things I would have liked to have. So I used my own experience with these apps and filled those gaps that were there in my own app,” she tells Startup Story Media.
The app has been specially tailored for every kind of need that might arise and it keeps improving from feedback. Padmini says that they have been very specific in reaching out to customers and don’t go around selling this product to everyone. “We are taking it slow right now, understanding and learning from feedback, how this is working for women. We want this to be more the word of mouth and have women as our biggest advocate and promote this app, as a community.”
On asking what are the biggest challenges that she had to face, she tells us that it had been quite difficult to get investment and explain to people why this app wasn’t just useful but also important for women. “It was hard explaining to them why this platform is important and useful for women. Most of the men couldn’t understand how pregnancy could even cause a problem, or how women were affected by something like PCOD or PCOS – they couldn’t understand.”
Later on, though, they did manage to get investments from a man who believed in the problems that Padmini and her team wanted to solve. “This person’s wife had been facing similar issues and he acknowledged the problems that existed. That’s how we got our first investment,” she says.
Message to entrepreneurs
“There’s nobody who can guarantee success and only success.” – Padmini Janaki, Co-Founder, Mind and Mom
A very cheerful and optimistic person, Padmini Janaki has written a book Myths and Millennials and believes wholeheartedly in staying happy and stress-free. She said, “I think the biggest thing that my mother has given me is that she has taught me how to be happy. Whatever you have, wherever you are – be happy.”
She told Startup Story Media that she keeps her work-life balance by practising yoga and meditation and accepting that failure is part of the learning process. Aside from that, her co-founder, Suganya Venkatachalam had been a great support and made things easier for her. She says that every young entrepreneur starting out should start out with proper planning and strategizing and be open to failure and accept it when it comes.
“I think good planning and good timing really helps you build something which is sustainable for you. You can’t simply quit your work today and get started with anything without thinking much about them. And accepting failure is important. There’s nobody who can guarantee success and only success. Startup, you either fail and learn a lot, or you just succeed.”