How to raise awareness about menopause with Low Code

Low Code Founders Janna from femfeel

If you think about menopause, you won’t think about a young girl in their twenties starting a company with a goal to help women in menopause. This is exactly what Janna does with her company femfeel. Together with the help of many experts and low code, Janna and her CO-Founder Mary developed an individual digital program that can help women in their menopause.

This goes far beyond just providing online courses, videos, or general tips. The uniqueness of their value proposition is that everything is individualized to the specific needs of the users. 

I’m still overwhelmed by the internal motivation and power Janna has for her company. It is one thing to start a company besides your Master Studies, it’s another thing to start a company about a topic that is still taboo in Germany. 

Being a non-tech person, Janna used low code to start their journey and developed their own web application. They are still using it and already started a beta phase and inviting test users. 

I’m pretty sure we will hear much more about feemfeel in the future. 

 Janna is using the following low code tools:  

Links for femfeel: 

https://www.femeel.de

If you have feedback or ideas on which topics need to be covered at this podcast – you are more than welcome to get in touch with me.

You can find more information on www.lowcode-founders.com, or you can drop me a message at sarah@biberei.de 

Enjoy and keep on building new digital products. 

Sarah 

Support the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/lowcodefounders)

Transcript of the episode: How to raise awareness about menopause with Low Code

Intro Janna: 

The feeling of bringing your own idea into life. Just excites me a lot because there was nothing in the beginning and then you have the opportunity to just create something and form it the way you want to. And definitely we are driven by the problem in a positive women face. So seeing how much we can already help the women that joined our program is an amazing feeling. And just whenever they reach out to us that motivates us and we definitely want to change something for them.

Speaker Sarah: 

Hello everyone today. We have a new guest with us. It’s Janna and Janna is the founder of a recently founded  company called Femfeel and the vision of femfeel is to help women in the menopause. And today I’m very excited to understand why they did this and what’s their offering they want to offer. Welcome Janna.

Speaker Janna:

Hi, nice to be here.

Speaker Sarah: 

All right. Yeah. Can you please introduce yourself a little bit to the audience and tell us about your company?

Speaker Janna: 

Yes, sure. I’m currently still finishing my Master of Industrial Engineering at the KIT. And besides that, as you already said, together with my co founder and best friend Mary, I’m founding femfeel and with femfeel we build a digital companion for women in menopause.

Speaker Sarah:

So why did you come up with the idea of helping women in there in the menopause? So what was the frustration or maybe the experience you have made to come up with this idea?

Speaker Janna: 

Well, we were motivated by our mothers. We started to deal with the topic about a year ago and in different ways. Both of our mothers seem to suffer from different symptoms that come along with this face of woman in her life. And we were negatively surprised that it felt like there was nothing for them that’s part of them gave them information that could actually help them. And then we thought, okay, we have to dig deeper and find out if, uh, well more women experienced the same thing our mothers did. And we quickly figured out, yes, that is the case. And every woman experiences menopause at a certain point in their life, definitely. And it comes along with a variety of different symptoms like hot flashes, incontinents or sleeping problems and depressive moods. But what seemed to be the worst problem for women is that they struggle to find information actually help. So they are there, they have these symptoms and they just don’t know what happens to the body. And yeah, we were certain that there is a real problem. And then to come up with our idea, we basically follow the design thinking process. It wasn’t a straightforward process but we we developed a lot of prototypes and literate it and definitely tested with users and then came up with our final idea.

Speaker Sarah:

So you’re saying the women didn’t have enough information and actually help to to help them in the menopause. So how are you going to solve this issue? So you developed an app if I’m right. So how do you provide information and how do you want to provide help and support during your app?

Speaker Janna: 

Yeah. So we call from Field Digital Companion because we wanna be along with the women when she experiences menopause and within our research we interviewed different women and doctors for sure. And we did a lot of scientific research and there’s one thing that really helps women in their menopause which is lifestyle adjustments in the fields of nutrition spots and emotional balance because they really have the potential to relief and prevent menopausal symptoms and the cardiovascular risk that comes along with this phase of a woman. And we identified that the two biggest challenges of women are. So first they don’t know which lifestyle adjustments suit their individual needs and symptoms. And second they struggle to maintain healthy lifestyle adjustments in the long run as we all know, good resolutions are hard to main and with femfeel  we tackle exactly both these problems. So after an initial assessment every woman gets her individualized lifestyle program that is tailored to her needs and time preference, for example and menopausal symptoms. So we have different video, audio and textual exercises that have been put together in her program. And the concept of the program as well as the U. S. Design based on behavior change theories and persuasive strategies. So we ensure that the lifestyle adjustments turned into her real new habits.

Speaker Sarah: 

Okay. And that that sounds like a lot of content you have to develop like the audios and videos and tips and tricks you just mentioned. So how did you come up with the content so who helped you with developing in this matter in between me and my personal situation? And the advises you give.

Speaker Janna: 

So we started with the content actually  we have a set of trainers around us which is super cool. So all exercises are developed by our sports nutrition and emotional balance coaches which are all certified trainers and they produce content that is tailored to the needs of menopausal women. And then they labeled their content and together with our expert barred in all the three fields. We then developed the first version of our algorithm right now which is a knowledge based recommended system. And mary has a background in data analytics and also depper dive into the topic and her thesis. So she actually developed the algorithm which is now based on rules making the matching between what the user says in the initial assessment and then the content we have.

Speaker Sarah: 

Okay that sounds very well planned and I really liked also the idea that you brought in some partners into it not only doing the content but they can also help you with the insight and also later on help you probably with the marketing so that they can show it to their customers say there is something which might going to help you in the future.

Speaker Janna: 

Yeah, definitely.

Speaker Sarah: 

So you said in your introduction that you are still studying, which I think is very tough to  start your own company, build a startup which is not 20 working hours per week and also still studying. When did you decide that you rather go the way of starting your own company instead of making a career 9-5 career in a corporate environment? So when did you decide that?

Speaker Janna:

Well, it’s hard to say. There was a point when I decided, I guess from my first internship on which I did in my bachelor’s in the Munich based startup, I was hooked by the by the startup spirit. And yeah then did later internships and several experiences well in the same surrounding. But what led us to family was not an active decision that we want to start our own business and give up on the idea of starting our corporate career. It was rather just last year when, when Corona canceled our exams, we had spare time actually and we’ll one day after we knew our exams were cancelled. We were like, okay, this is the time we have spare time. We’re going to use it. We dig deeper into the topic and after, yeah, diving into the topic, we just couldn’t let go of the problem anymore. So the actual decision was not in the beginning, but rather later when we decided, okay, we’re going to commit to this full time now. So we both gave up on our jobs as working students to commit full time to him feel. And yeah, the decision was rather okay. We fell in love with the problem and we couldn’t let go of it anymore.

Speaker Sarah: 

It’s a very nice phrase you said yet you got hooked when you were working in a startup in Munich. So what was the feeling about that?

Speaker Janna: 

I think the whole team was just so motivated to really move something and whenever you were just, it was my first internship. So I basically had no experience before but still what I did was important and it led to important things for customers, for the team. So I yeah, I got the tend to just bring in my ideas and yeah, I just got the motivation of everyone. It wasn’t 40 hours for sure it was way more but everyone just loved it and it didn’t feel like work. So I guess I just woke up and want to go there and I still have that now due to yeah,

Speaker Sarah: 

I think it’s the spirit what makes startup environment very special so that everyone is working their ass off to to achieve the overall vision and not only to get the salary at the end of the month. Absolutely. So this intention obviously influenced your decision and your current job. Did the university also influence your decision by offering some certain entrepreneurial activities?

Speaker Janna: 

 I don’t really know, but they definitely helped us in the process. So both Mary and I together did a nine month project where we got the challenge and Design Thinking. So we got the chance to work together with each other, doing Design Thinking, which basically enabled us to have a similar way of thinking about innovation which was really important for us. And there was one thing and the second is they definitely support us now as we have the chance to write our master thesis about femfeel, which allows us to finish our Masters while still spending all available time on femfeel and full time commit to femfeel. So they definitely made it easier for us to do femfeel the whole time.

Speaker Sarah: 

You said you were working together on this design thinking project for a couple of months and you also did a project abroad, which maybe you can first tell us a little bit about this project. So what actually you were doing and also if you’re looking back and thinking about which experience were most valuable to you and maybe help you all securing me in your business.

Speaker Janna: 

Yeah, so I did several this time thinking project and workshops. And the thing we did together was a nine month project in the International sugar Network, which is a network of universities worldwide always to universities plus one company have a challenge and two teams from the two universities work together on these challenge. We’re just given by a corporate partner and in our case it was connected to the country Ghana. So we got a chance to travel to Ghana. Was was yeah it was amazing. It was an interesting country and we had a lot of interview partners from Ghana definitely. And it was a very sensitive topic which made it really hard to frame your interview the right way. And that definitely was a really valuable experience. So learning how to frame your interview if it’s a sensitive topic and how to still get the information you want to get. Although someone in front of you talked about a really emotional experience and you still you’re touched by it but still you want to have the big picture in mind and and work on your project. So that was really valuable and interesting. And I think it helped us and femfeel giving our structure in the beginning. So when we started we basically just knew okay, menopause is somehow a problem to women. So when we started diving deep into the topic, we just basically wrote women on facebook asking like would you be up for an interview with us and there wasn’t really anything we could show them. So we didn’t have a company. We didn’t have an idea. We had basically nothing just us. But due to farmer experience, we were used to the situation of just yeah, asking so could we have an interview and just ask you anything? And it’s yeah, it gave us more structure when developing the first prototypes and it of the improving them and testing them. And I think now it still helps us to not fall in love with our prototypes, which can be really challenging. So if you spend a lot of time developing your first prototype and then you just simply have to let go of it because you just basically switched your idea. We got that still in our heads. Don’t fall in love with the prototype, which really helps us.

Speaker Sarah: 

I think you said a very valuable lesson and I will actually repeat that. So the first one is that if you have an idea, not directly do prototyping and get into the product development, which is where we often the case because as you said, you’re falling in love with your prototype and with your product, but this is not how it should be. Did you fall in love with the problem after customers? And that’s why I really like your approach and I want to highlight it to the audience that you don’t have to develop a product. Like from the first day it’s much more important to get into the interviews as Janna said and to really understand the problem if there is a problem because sometimes you’re thinking, yeah, there’s a big problem but maybe at the end it’s worth solving or that the issue is not that high and also to understand what a customer or what the clients actually telling you why didn’t on your checklist but rather read between the lines of maybe if a problem is existing but maybe he’s not, not so open to describe it in a very obvious way. So I think this is a very valuable lesson here and as you just said for the audience. So thanks for that.

Speaker Janna: 

Yeah, definitely. That’s where no code tools definitely support you because as soon as there’s code written you, Yeah, it’s difficult to not fall in love then decisions can get emotional rather than rational. So I guess no code helps us to just really see it as a prototype. That can be changed whenever.

Speaker Sarah: 

Absolutely. Because if you, I mean it’s, I think it’s not about programming or not programming, it’s a time to have invest. And with programming, there is obviously you need much more time in developing a tool and that’s why you can’t get rid of it so far as because someone said, but I put so much money and hours into the product. I cannot just let it go even though maybe it’s a completely wrong decision. And I think that’s where low code tools, as you said, prototyping towards or any other helps you to invest not that much time and money obviously into the product and also to get to get rid of it much easier.

Speaker Sarah:

We will talk about the tools in the minute. I want to ask you another question because when I was on your website and I looked through all your projects and activities and what you’re doing, I really ask myself how many people are actually working at femfeel because you are only the two founders actually as you explained and you have so much curently going on. So how do you plan your work between you and your co founder and how do you schedule your daily activities?

Speaker Janna: 

Thanks. Uh, yeah, well, I think first of all, we started not really planning because we’ve been best friends and co workers for six years now. So that makes planning and scheduling easier because we know each other by heart and our work styles, we would have always considered ourselves organized in structure, but indeed we realized okay with them feel we do need regular dates for planning and scheduling. So basically every monday we have a weekly check in to fix the goals of the week and we work with fellow, so we set our task and everybody knows what to do and then monthly plan our goals and activities and that makes it a lot easier, more structured and then, yeah, we just work whenever we feel like working with your best friend is fun. So I guess we just spend a lot of time on it, but thank you.

Speaker Sarah: 

So it’s, it’s also motivational for you to working with your best friend or is there are also other motivational factors giving you the power to get up every day and you’re working your ass off? 

Speaker Janna: 

I guess, yeah, it definitely is a motivational sector. Working with someone you really like, like as a person and really like to work with, you basically want to go to the office to see her. But the feeling of bringing your own idea into life just morty weights and excites me a lot because there was nothing in the beginning and then you have the opportunity to just create something and from it the way you want to and definitely we are driven by the problem menopausal women face. So seeing how much we can already help the women that joined our program is an amazing feeling. And just whenever they reach out to us that motivates us and we definitely want to change something for them.

Speaker Sarah: 

I think you’re really helping also in changing the awareness of this very crucial topic because as you said, also, I mean every woman at some point of your life is facing it, right? So it’s not something which is not being touched by a minority of people. Right? So but why do you think we still have some issues talking about this about this topic? And why can’t we speak about it? Like we are actually doing in our podcast about this topic. So what’s what’s the issue here?

Speaker Janna: 

Well I hope it changes and we just will in the future. But I think menopause is a different topic for women because it firstly introduces the end of fertility and then it is a process of aging. So aging still has the stigma of not being cool and it comes along with unpleasant and maybe even embarrassing symptoms. Which makes it always hard to openly talk about it on the food table. So I guess that’s the first point and then I think it is a generational thing. So as we start talking more openly about menstruation, I hope the same thing will just happen to me in the past. But I guess, yeah, our grandmothers just weren’t hard to talk about it. And that brought that to our moms and yeah, I hope it will change with our generation.

Speaker Sarah:

Yeah. I also see that with the other changes we currently see in embracing taboos. Um speaking more about women specific aspects, I think this will also have a positive effect on menopause. So we are now it’s no longer this dirty thing so to say or this gray thing or illness.

Speaker Janna: 

Yeah. It’s very crazy if you think about it, right? Yeah. I mean it’s such a natural thing and there is no there actually there’s no explanation why we should not be talking about it. Why do we were talking about other other issues as well? So why not talking about this? But I think the reasons you said are reasons for it.

Speaker Sarah:

Talking about the development after product. So you don’t have a programming background if I remember correctly. So what were the challenges you saw at the beginning when it comes to the development of the tools. And when did you come up with using low code tools for it?

Speaker Janna: 

Yeah. And the beginning we thought we would need a developer that is dedicated to developing our our application and we both we’ve written code in our in our studies. But yeah, we wouldn’t consider ourselves developers, but we realized that actually if we start developing our final application now, we would definitely fall in love with that prototype and we couldn’t switch back from the idea as easy as we can now and then. Yeah, I guess several interviews in our community just brought us to no code tools and we thought, OK, that’s the perfect match. So it’s, it’s a slow code that we can use it and it allows us to still be agile. So yeah, we, we dig deep in the topic and then there’s a pretty famous Youtube tutorial in that area which uses a combination of web flow air table, say Pierre and member stack. And we basically, yeah, we used this as a basis and then further developed it to our needs. And yeah, that was good.

Speaker Sarah: 

So it’s just a famous future video and I have the feeling that half of my guests watched this video. So it was like the first beginning, how you got in touch with low codes. Did you use any tutorials or just try it out? How did you learn the specifics of each individual tools as you are using like four or five of them?

Speaker Janna: 

Yeah, I think the webflow university is also really helpful. So whenever we had some trouble with webflow we didn’t know what to do. We could use the Web flow University. But other than that, I guess it’s just yeah, learning by doing so whenever you use a tool you get used to it and then for sure it helps us that many of your guests as you said, they use the same tools because I’ll watch that video. So you could always use ask someone else whenever you were stuck at a certain point and then just get input from from someone else. And then yeah, that basically brought us to the final approach. 

Speaker Sarah: 

Can you give maybe the audience and estimation if someone with a very limited background in computer science has the idea to develop a product like you have developed, how much time do you think they need to get into their products or into the different local tools in order to develop their first MVP.  What is your estimation?

Speaker Janna: 

Yeah I think I would definitely recommend be doing a real MVP with real basic functionalities. That’s what we did. So the only functionality is women only but has her program so she has daily to do. And the content in this in this program is also available in the application and for this MVP. We developed the first place it took us 1.5 weeks. That’s a so yeah I guess tutorials took I guess in my time. But yeah 1.5 weeks could do it.

Speaker Sarah: 

That is so crazy if you tell this to software developer or a team of software developers. 1,5 weeks is kind of nothing normally for development product and it really shows the benefits you have. I mean, and not only did you invest at the at the beginning, not so much time in developing something, but you are much faster also to adapt to certain changes or to sort of feedback you are now receiving from real customers. And I think that’s that’s also the difference. Like we’re just having a prototype in your design programs but you can also do it flows and you can show it to some customers but having extra customers really registrations and maybe also even first payments is a complete different story. And it also gives you much more valuable feedback because they are actually actively using your product. 

Speaker Janna: 

Yeah, definitely. And as it looks like a real product, they do give you real feedback which is good critic but real feedback.

Speaker Sarah:

Yeah absolutely. When you’re looking back what was because everything sounds very smooth, you know, from from starting and your ideas and I’m thinking and how you developed a product and I mean you also know your confidence so well as your best friends. What was if you go back in time? What was the one thing you you wish you knew before you started this? Some feel adventure?

Speaker Janna:

I think we kind of knew, but we didn’t really feel it before. So it is the fact that there is no right or wrong when founding your own company. So nobody has a blueprint for building a mobile application for women in menopause. And you can easily compare yourself to successful founders and think they just always know what to do while you make many decisions based on your gut feeling, uh, simply learn trial and error. And in the beginning we just always thought, okay, maybe our mentors know what to do when they just know how we should do the next step. And we do definitely learn a lot from our mentors and we are super happy that they share all their experience with us. But it took us quite some time to understand that nobody can tell us there is this blueprint. So we just have to figure out what’s right or wrong or what works best for women. And especially in the beginning when we didn’t really have the final idea yet, we were still just prototyping with different ideas and we didn’t actually know if we would ever come up with an idea that makes sense for women and that was tough. And we just really thought, okay, maybe we’re just doing it wrong because we’re less experience still studying whatever. But actually we figured, okay, the small steps each day brought us to where we are now and we just have to still learn how to do everything. But if we try our best every day, we will eventually get somewhere. And yeah, I think everybody told us in the beginning, but we came to realizing that nobody knows what’s right or wrong actually.

Speaker Sarah: 

Yeah, I think, yeah, you can’t learn anything from the textbook. And so it can absolutely agree with you on that. And I think those people who may be in the media and it seems they’re always doing the right thing and know exactly what they gonna do. I think we don’t see the mistakes and the failures they have gone through because we are maybe focusing only on the shiny, shiny things, definitely. Um, so what is next on your list? Can you share some, yeah, some future projects with the audience, What do we do do, what do we have to know?

Speaker Janna: 

So we’re steadily iterating our current prototype of femfeel, so we stay closer users and we are on boarding the next 30 women this month. So this is the next milestone. And if you know someone experiencing menopause, we’re happy to welcome, next batch. I guess that’s most important thing to just make me in the past matter, make it bring it out of this taboo.

Speaker Sarah: 

So I would definitely put everything in the shownotes.  So that everyone who is interested in exploring your services can do it. I have one last, second question. You didn’t know before. So I have to come up with a new one. If once every every episodes online. If you could start any kind of company without limitation in terms of money time personal, Which one would you start?

Speaker Janna: 

Femeel. Yeah, I think if as a student it’s yeah, you have to boot strap in the beginning and being a student that doesn’t mean you have a lot of money which definitely sometimes limits us. And yeah, I’d love to have even more resources to further developed some few.

Speaker Sarah: 

All right, perfect answer, Janna. Yeah. Thank you so much Janna for your time. And we learned a lot about menopause and I really hope that society it works this taboo of talking about this very important topic. Thank you so much.

Speaker Janna: 

Thanks for having me. It was fun.