A Friend in Need

Nexus-trained Gitanjali Banerjee’s start-up, Femtech Fertility Dost, provides women and couples a platform to talk about fertility-related problems and preventive solutions.

By Ranjita Biswas

November 2019

A Friend in Need

Gitanjali Banerjee (second row from front; center) at a Fertility Dost meet in Gurugram. Photograph courtesy Gitanjali Banerjee.

 

Gitanjali Banerjee is a content manager by profession and an entrepreneur by passion. She discovered her true calling when she founded Femtech Fertility Dost, to help women with fertility problems.

The start-up offers Map My Fertility, an algorithm-based technological solution to help women predict, assess and manage their reproductive health by computing parameters of fertility marker tests, psychometric tests and other physical attributes. Based on the results of this algorithm, users are guided by counselors through a personalized program toward an improved reproductive health journey.

Banerjee received training at the Nexus Incubator start-up hub at the American Center New Delhi and also participated in the 2018 TechCamp South Asia, a public diplomacy program by the U.S. Department of State. At the TechCamp, she worked on improving the technology behind her product as well as its marketing.

Excerpts from an interview with Banerjee about her start-up, and her experiences with the Nexus Incubator and at the TechCamp.

What inspired you to start Fertility Dost?

While working in the corporate sector, I was going through fertility treatments. During my personal health journey, I observed issues like societal apathy, taboos and condescending behavior of the corporate sector. The seeds of Fertility Dost were sown. “Dost” means friend in Hindi. My vision is to enable and inform women, to be their friend and tell them that “You are not alone” and, most importantly, to bring fertility into the preventive segment.

There are several fertility-oriented programs in India. What is the unique selling point of your start-up?

Most of the women and wellness-specific health apps or platforms have fertility as a small subset. But we specialize in fertility counseling, peer support, query resolution, education, curated fertility wellness programs and, most importantly, an online fertility screening tool.

Map My Fertility combines results from 11 fertility marker tests, behavioral patterns and lifestyle parameters to provide a fertility health evaluation report of the user on the dashboard. This is our proprietary algorithm. This information, along with our holistic platform, enables women to make smart decisions about their reproductive health. 

The strengths of the program are that it is accessible from home; saves cost and time otherwise spent on consultations and tests; and alerts the patient at the preventive stage, thereby saving the cost and complications of IVF [in vitro fertilization] treatment. 

 How effective is the Fertility Dost program?

In the current scenario, a woman delays going for a fertility consultation owing to social taboos and lack of information. This often leads to escalation into a chronic problem, where they are left with no choice. Early intervention ensures better management and can save the cost and emotional complications of IVF treatment. About 70 percent of fertility issues can be easily managed by lifestyle changes, hormone management and fertility diet.

How many people have you reached till now?

We have reached about 50,000 women and couples through our online and offline presence. Our users are mostly from metro cities; the maximum being from Delhi-NCR in the North and Bengaluru in South India. However, engagement is also increasing from non-metro cities. 

How have you gained from the Nexus Incubator training and participation in the 2018 TechCamp South Asia?

The TechCamp offered new perspectives on how we can leverage technology and collaboration to enhance start-up growth. 

I was fortunate to get selected for two project grants—to build my core website and to collaborate with two women health entrepreneurs from Pakistan to create content for awareness building. 

Nexus provided me with structured training to strengthen the core of our business model. Through deep diving into market segmentation, understanding the unit economics and networking with the who’s who of the ecosystem, Nexus gave Fertility Dost the right direction. Personally, it encouraged me to take the start-up to the next level. We organized a fertility health awareness event, as part of the collaborative project, at American Center New Delhi. Attended by women and couples, it had two panel discussions on how to manage fertility health holistically and how technology can be leveraged to help women manage their health. Combined with music, art therapy and booth display, it was an exciting, engaging and educative event.

Ranjita Biswas is a Kolkata-based journalist. She also translates fiction and writes short stories.



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