So i've been working on this product since March really, I was conducting customer interviews and then I ran a Facebook advert to my waitlist page to see if the messaging/product was attractive. I ended up getting about 300 people signed up in 24ish hours. So the mix of my waitlist is about 20% customer interviews (on the list in March), 60% from the advert (signed up in May) and 20% from recently where I posted about it in industry-related facebook groups.
I am now about 1ish months away from finishing the first version of the product, and I need to start getting beta testers lined up. I'm having trouble pulling the trigger on emailing them, since some of them I spoke to on the phone back in March and they may not even remember who I am, some of them have more recently signed up and are a bit 'warmer'.
Should I send one email to the entire list? E.g. 'Want to be the first to try XYZ?' or should I send separate, personal emails to the first group of customer interviews?
If not, how should I split it up (or not)?
Fertility tracking has seen an explosion of startup activity in recent years. Femtech startup Lady Technologies is adding to this rich mix with the full U.S. launch of a dual-purpose device, called kegg, that’s designed to measure hormonal changes in a woman’s cervical fluid to help her determine the chance of conception on a given day.
The egg-shaped gizmo, which features a gold-plated steel cap and band ringing its tip, as well as a silicone tail to house its Bluetooth radio (so it can chat to the companion app), doubles as a connected pelvic floor trainer (the “k” in kegg is for “Kegels”) — taking a leaf out of U.K. femtech pioneer Elvie’s playbook. Though the two-in-one function is a new twist.
Kegg relies on a technology called impedance to sense electrolyte levels in a woman’s cervical fluid in order to detect the hormonal switch from estrogen to progesterone dominance that accompanies ovulation — via a daily test that’s touted as taking just two minutes. (If you’re also using it for the optional Kegal exercises that would take a bit longer.)
“A minute electrical impulse at a specific frequency is emitted from the gold-plated electrodes on the kegg and received by the other (this process is then reversed). By sensing the changing trends in the impedance, we’re able to detect the hormonal change and make a prediction to the user,” explains CEO and founder Kristina Cahojova. “Since every woman’s fluids are slightly different, kegg needs to record at least one fertile window to provide personalized predictions.”
“We have numerous patents on the underlying design of kegg and key aspects of how it operates,” she adds.
Kegg was unveiled on the TechCrunch Disrupt SF stage, back in 2018, as part of our startup battlefield competition (though it didn’t go on to win). Fast-forward two years and it’s now officially launching out of beta to offer the FDA-registered gizmo to the U.S. market — priced at $ 275.
It’s announcing a $ 1.5 million seed round too, with investors including Crescent Ridge Partners, SOSV, Texas Halo Fund, Fermata Fund and MegaForce, as well as some unnamed angel investors.
Commenting in a statement, Samina Hydery, kegg advisor and women’s health investor, said: “Investor interest in femtech and fertility has accelerated over the last few years. While I’ve seen an influx of ovulation prediction kits, at-home blood tests, menstrual tracking apps, and temperature monitors in the consumer market, kegg’s value proposition became clear once I spoke with women about their experiences trying to conceive and medical researchers in the field. It’s hard not to get excited by the various growth vectors that can expand kegg’s market in the future — from being used as a tool for natural family planning to helping monitor postpartum/perimenopausal health.”
“We pride ourselves in having almost half of our investors women,” notes Cahojova — whose inspiration for building kegg was personal, having suffered from irregular menstrual cycles herself.
“I didn’t want to be treated with hormones. When I talked to fertility instructors or a specialized fertility doctor, all they wanted to know about was my patterns of cervical fluid. Why? Because the fertile window is defined only by the presence of fertile cervical fluid, having a positive LH [luteinizing hormone] test is nice but it won’t help you get information to fix your cycles. That’s why so many fertility doctors are interested in cervical fluid and that is why so many women are told to track it with their fingers,” she explains.
“How on earth are you supposed to be able to track objectively something so important, yet private, without the help of technology? I was frustrated and angry that every company that I talked to didn’t have a solution and didn’t want to make this so-needed product because it ‘would have to go into the vagina’. So I set out to make a product that would help me and women like me.”
Thus far kegg has been hitting a chord with U.S. women of reproductive age who are trying for a baby, according to Cahojova — who says her startup has built a 2,000-strong community of fertility-tracking women over kegg’s beta period.
“Our typical user is a woman in her reproductive age,” she says. “Our users are in long-term relationships or married and they likely have been actively trying to conceive for more than three months. Fifty percent are trying to conceive their first child, while the remaining are already mothers.
“Our customers have experience with BBT (body basal temperature charting) or LH tests (ovulation tests) and they are overall interested in holistic fertility and wellness, not in medication. They also prefer the convenience of kegg over other methods that either need to be worn throughout the night or used more frequently.”
“Each woman is unique and so are her cycles,” she adds. “Unlike ovulation trackers, kegg helps women understand their fertile window and cyclical fertility and follow their own patterns. Usually women take up to six months to learn how to read cervical fluid patterns. Our customers report that kegg gives them confidence and they feel empowered. Many keggsters conceived with kegg after years of trying because kegg gave them trends beyond ovulation. Nothing makes me more happy than an email from a customer whose life changed thanks to my work and kegg.” (On that it says “several” women have reported successful pregnancies using kegg since the beta launch in 2018.)
The startup also has its eye on international expansion, including to Asia (with the support of its Japanese market-focused investor Fermata) — with a plan to launch kegg in Singapore in late October, and in Japan and Canada next year.
While the kegg has a core focus on fertility tracking (and a secondary feature as a connected pelvic floor trainer), Cahojova is excited about wider possibilities for women’s health that she hopes will be opened up as they’re able to take in and crunch more data.
Kegg users’ impedance readings are uploaded to the startup’s cloud for analysis, so its algorithms can make a personalized fertility prediction. But its website also notes it uses “anonymized/pseudonymized” data for research into women’s health. (Cahojova specifies users’ personal data is never shared outside the company. “Any data we offer to researchers we work with is completed anonymized,” is her privacy promise.)
Asked what areas of research she’s hoping kegg will help advance, she tells us: “Researchers have noted that health issues can affect typical electrolyte cycles. In many of our internal studies we’ve seen examples where readings were ‘out of norm’ for the user. In case after case we found evidence of underlying health issues (for example infections) were the cause. In the future our goal is to understand how kegg can help monitor overall cervical health.”
Cahojova also says the device is being used by fertility instructors and doctors to help with monitoring their patients. “The beauty of kegg is that by having a user-friendly and modern device that women like to use we can get data on changes of vaginal fluids on a large scale. With kegg data we also hope to help doctors finally answer their billion-dollar question — how can they improve the quality of cervical fluid.”
“We are supportive of science and are open for research collaborations,” she adds. “We provided kegg for independent peer-reviewed clinical study under Dr. Gabriela López Armas, MD, PhD, for her research on kegg and other fertility trackers. All the participants finished the protocols in summer of 2020 and the study is to be published independently in the near future.”
While the business model for kegg is currently fixed-price hardware sales, Cahojova says the startup is looking at offering subscription packages in the future. “In the future, we want to offer more to our users, e.g.: connecting them to specialists to review their cycles or view of additional layers of information. Once we have enhanced services ready, we’ll look at switching to a subscription model,” she adds.
The retail landscape is shifting rapidly. While D2C brands have changed the way we shop, Quince is looking to change retail even more dramatically.
The brand, which raised $ 8.5 million in seed funding last year (and only revealed as much today), is looking to rethink the supply chain with its own line of 700 items including men’s and women’s apparel, accessories, jewelry and home goods.
After beta testing for a year as ‘Last Brand,’ Quince is launching with a new model called ‘M2C,’ or manufacturer to consumer.
The idea is that Quince goes directly to factories with designs for essentials — not overly patterned or branded items — with an order that can dynamically adjust each week based on demand. As orders start coming in, Quince can work alongside manufacturers to ensure they aren’t over or under producing on a specific SKU. The factory then ships directly to the customer, rather than shipping to a distribution center or store and then again to the final destination.
You might think that factories wouldn’t be as amenable to this model, as they have little to lose when a brand overestimates demand for a SKU and doesn’t sell it through to the customer. But cofounder and CEO Sid Gupta says that this new model is being presented at a pivotal time in retail. Bigger brands, the ones that place orders for 100,000 units, are struggling during the pandemic and shrinking their SKU portfolio.
This leaves the factories with two options: turning to D2C brands or selling through a marketplace like Amazon.
“D2C demand is really fragmented, and most b2c companies are really sub-scale,” said Gupta. “It’s hard to get the efficiency gains out of it. The issue with selling on a marketplace, like Amazon, is you’ve got to compete with hundreds, if not thousands, of other sellers for the same exact good. If you’re a factory that actually makes high quality goods, and you pay your workers fairly, and you don’t damage the environment, your cost might be 3% or 5%, higher.”
He added that it’s difficult for a factory to have those factors shine through to the customer on Amazon, and more difficult still to learn how to play the advertising game.
This environment has made manufacturers slightly more open to a new way of doing things.
By working directly with factories, Quince says it’s able to bring the cost of luxury items down significantly, selling a cashmere sweater for approximately $ 50 instead of $ 150+, as you’ll often find with other brands. Quince works with more than 30 different factories across the world.
Cofounder and CEO Sid Gupta says the company has also thought very deeply about sustainability, setting standards around the materials used (are they organic or recycled?), the manufacturing process (is it ecologically sound?), worker pay, and more. The company is also looking into giveback programs to share in the profits with the factories and the workers.
The funding from last fall has allowed Quince to beta test last year and grow the team to 16, including cofounders Becky Mortimer and Sourabh Mahajan. Thirty-five percent of employees are female, and 65 percent of employees are minorities.
The company’s investors include Founders Fund, 8VC and Basis Set Ventures.
I'm starting to build an MVP and will then create a private beta, followed by a public beta if it is successful. Naturally it's both daunting and exciting. I'm looking for lessons from people who've done it before. Some questions I have
- How long (roughly) should I expect each stage to last?
- Did you stick to the KPIs you set out for the beta programs?
Hello, I'm a 18 year old entrepreneur and I built my virtual platform's MVP from scratch. I'm pretty inexperienced so please bare with me 🙂 As I near the end of the development process, I've begun thinking of what comes next in terms of how to launch it and well… I'm a bit clueless.
I'm really not sure at all how to go on about this. I was thinking of doing the pre-launch campaign for 2-3 months though as I said I'm not too clear on how to go on about launch/where to look for what to do. My goal is to get 10,000 users signed up at least after launch (that's the limit I've set for how many spaces I have available)
My plan was within those months would be to do as much as I can to get exposure for the coming soon platform… and then open it after (though allowing sign-ups before). But is that really it? It seems bland just to go and advertise it… I feel I'm missing something but not sure what.
I have seen how some startups get going and it seems they really document the development process before launch (updates on dev. and so on), and that's also something I'm mixed up on. Before I even have an usable product ready, should I begin getting it around? I was thinking I shouldn't begin going around until I have a very set product (as in, no huge updates to make). Should I perhaps, before I am completely done with the platform, start marketing it to get the name buzzing around a bit?
TLDWR Basically when do you know you're ready to start displaying your product to the world prior to officially launching it? Should it be when you have a very set product? Or when you have the basic structure down, with updates on extra features being added until the launch date?
Pleasanton-based green energy startup NDB, Inc. has reached a key milestone today with the completion of two proof of concept tests of its nano diamond battery (NDB) . One of these tests took place at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and the other at the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge University, and both saw NDB’s battery tech manage a 40% charge, which is a big improvement over the 15% charge collection efficiency (effectively energy lossiness relative to maximum total possible charge) of standard commercial diamond.
NDB’s innovation is in creating a new, proprietary nano diamond treatment that allows for more efficient extraction of electric charge from the diamond used in the creation of the battery. Their goal is to ultimately commercialize a version of their battery that can self-charge for up to a maximum lifespan of 28,000 years, created from artificial diamond-encased carbon-14 nuclear waste.
This battery doesn’t generate any carbon emissions in operation, and only requires access to open air to work. And while they’re technically batteries, because they contain a charge which will eventually be expended, they provide their own charge for much longer than the lifetime of any specific device or individual user, making them effectively a charge-free solution.
NDB ultimately hopes to turn their battery into a viable source of power for just about anything that consumes it — including aircraft, EVs, trains and more, all the way down to smartphones, wearables and tiny industrial sensors. The company is currently now at work creating a prototype of its first commercial battery in order to make that available sometime later this year.
It has also just signed its first beta customers, who will actually be receiving and making use of those first prototypes. While it hasn’t named them specifically, it did say that one is “a leader in nuclear fuel cycle products and services,” and the other is “a leading global aerospace, defense and security manufacturing company.” Obviously, this kind of tech has appeal in just about every sector, but defense and power concerns are likely among the deepest-pocketed.
mmhmm, the latest project from Evernote founder Phil Libin and All Turtles, has today announced the launch of the mmhmm Beta 2. The 100,000-strong waitlist of people who have requested access are getting their invite to the platform today. Also part of the beta 2: a handful of new features for the video presentation software.
Most notable among them is Co-Pilot. Co-Pilot allows two users to ‘drive’ the presentation simultaneously, with one user speaking and visible and the other running the controls of that presentation, switching slides, playing video and/or changing the look and feel.
But let me back up for those of you who’ve (understandably) missed the mmhmm news in the past few weeks.
What is it?
If Twitch got together with the production team for a late night talk show, and their resulting love child was into corporate presentations, that baby would be called mmhmm.
Essentially, users can elevate their on-screen virtual presentations from a head in a box (or sometimes a screen-shared slide deck) to a more elegantly produced affair.
mmhmm users can run their presentation from a PIP (picture-in-picture) window, change the size of themselves on screen, add interesting filters and effects, and do it all on the fly.
And as fun as that may be, there is a lot involved in running a live production while also giving a presentation, which is why mmhmm is introducing Co-Pilot. Co-Pilot offers users the chance to have their very own executive producer help them with their call, allowing the presenter to focus on what they’re saying instead of the mmhmm controls.
Since Co-Pilot is multiplayer, beta users can invite one friend per day to the platform starting now.
Alongside Co-Pilot, mmhmm is also launching Dynamic Rooms, which gives users the ability to create a background unique to them, selecting the colors, shapes, etc. to have your own ‘template’.
The product has raised a total of $ 4.5 million led by Sequoia, with participation from Human Capital, Biz Stone, Jana Messerschmidt (#ANGELS), Hiroshi Mikitani (Rakuten), Taizo Son (Mistletoe), Brianne Kimmel (worklife.vc), Digital Garage, Precursor Ventures, Kevin Systrom (IG), Mike Krieger (IG), Linda Kozlowski (Blue Apron), Julia and Kevin Hartz (EventBrite), and Lachy Groom (Stripe).
Our app releases its beta test this month and we are looking for more beta testers. So far we have about 100 but we’re still looking for more but don’t have many funds available since we’re just starting out. How can we find beta testers beyond friends and family? Do you all have any tips?
I've built a technical product that is targeted for medium to large corporations. I've recently done several demos trying to get consumer feedback and and was fortunate enough that one of the executives I recently demo'ed for told me to prepare to beta with them. This is a fortune 500 company with over 100k employees. (though my product will only be used by a relatively small group to start)
I am very confident about the tech stability, security, and ability to scale. However, I am extremely unprepared in most other regards. It is only me and one other person working on the project. I have a Delaware llc that I created on whim, but I am otherwise entirely unprepared for the level of business scrutiny I am likely to encounter in this process. Any advice on what I should do before my next meeting would be great appreciated.
Thanks in advance.