If you don’t already know, we at Vibrant are huge fans of Elvie. From their superior kegel exerciser that tracks your progress through an app, to their woman-first approach, to their amazing British accents – we knew we wanted to partner with them after only just hearing about Elvie! That’s why when Tania Boler, Elvie CEO and co-founder, agreed to answer a few questions for us, we were not going to pass up the opportunity! By talking with Tania we learned how Elvie started, how they have found such wide-spread success, why pelvic-floor strength is important to her, and (most importantly) what we can expect next from this brand that seemingly can do no wrong!
1 – How did Elvie come to be?
I co-founded Elvie in 2013 with Alexander Asseily of Jawbone. Like lots of women, I never really thought much about the pelvic floor until I had a baby. My husband is French and I discovered it is normal for French women to attend pelvic floor rehabilitation classes after birth. I was shocked to learn that nothing like this existed in other countries, and that pelvic floor weakness is so common. As I did further research and talked to experts, I realised that there was very little by way of technological innovation. Women were buying lots of different products to rebuild their core strength with little evidence that they are effective. The one thing shown to work is giving women real-time biofeedback, but this technology existed almost exclusively in hospitals. Women need better technology that fits around their busy lives so I committed to doing something about it and founded Elvie, a connected devices company which is led by women and designing products specifically for women. Naturally, the first product was Elvie’s kegel trainer – a discreet yet fun and simple way to do your pelvic floor exercises.
2 – What makes Elvie different?
What sets Elvie’s kegel trainer apart is its unique combination of the best in medical technology with innovative design that appeals to women. The real-time biofeedback helps users to visualise an otherwise hidden muscle while the LV scoring system and tracking helps women stay motivated and see progress. Unlike any of our competitors, Elvie’s kegel trainer uses breakthrough technology to detect if you’re exercising incorrectly and helps you get it right. We had over 150 women test the product from different shapes and sizes to various app features. It became clear that comfort was a key issue. Some other products on the market had hard edges which hurt when being inserted or taken out. Elvie’s kegel trainer has no edges and has a dip at the end to help with insertion. There are two sizes so that women can choose the size that fits them. We also knew safety was really important as some exercise trackers have had waterproof problems, which is why our kegel trainer is fully waterproof, has no buttons or exposed parts and wirelessly charges in it’s case.
3 – Your company is woman-run and woman-first. How do you maintain that core mission?
More than half of our senior leadership team is female and we work in an inclusive environment. We create products specifically for women so we knew from day one that we needed their input to design something that truly solved a problem and addressed their concerns. We have a data scientist in our team who is continuously working with our developers and health researchers to improve the app’s functionality so that our users can continue to get the most out of it. Improvements are made based on survey feedback from users, as well as insights that we gather from user behaviour and engagement patterns.
4 – How did you come to value the importance of strengthening the pelvic floor and body-safe products?
My interest in pelvic floor health was sparked when I realized how little I knew about this aspect of women’s health despite having worked in this field my whole life. My research revealed some shocking statistics. I learnt that more than half of all women have physical problems at some point during their lives and one in ten women will need to have an operation because of a pelvic floor-related problem. The adult sanitary pad market is valued at close to $10 billion over the next couple of years. This is crazy as these problems are largely preventable so I committed to doing something about it.
5 – What about Elvie are you especially proud of?
Launching our first product to such a positive response from customers and the media was a great moment for Elvie and we’re thrilled to follow that up by becoming breakeven within six months. We have begun working on our second product already, which we’re really excited about as it’s set to be another category-defining innovation. Securing the full £5 million of our Series A funding round from Octopus Ventures and AllBright was also a highlight as their investment is an important mark of credibility for Elvie. We’re also thrilled to have received 12 awards already for design, innovation and startup success. But we are most proud of the impact that our kegel trainer is already having on women’s lives and the conversation that we are part of, which is the taboo from women’s bodies and common health issues.
6 – What does it mean to you to normalize the conversation around sex, pleasure, and vaginal health?
This is incredibly important to us because women – our users – are at the centre of everything we do. We treat women with respect, not like a niche. Women are our customers, our critics, our testers, and our muses. Our products encourage open discussion around women’s health, shift people’s views and educate both women and men on important about often intimate topics. We see this as a great opportunity to drive real change in the culture at large and celebrate women talking more openly about their bodies, as well as lift the taboo on everything from bladder control to orgasms. Normalizing these conversations empowers women to feel understand their bodies and love being a woman, giving them the freedom to live happier, healthier lives. This is our goal.
7 – What’s next/ what can we look forward to from Elvie?
Women of all ages deserve smarter technology that has been developed to support and empower them. From pregnancy and childbirth to periods and menopause, being a woman is a pretty unique journey but much of the technology available to women isn’t really tailored to our needs. We create extraordinary products that change women’s lives for the better. We’re excited to launch our next product, another disruptive innovation in women’s health, in early 2018 and we plan to have four products on the market by 2020.
8 – What else do you think is important for people to know about Elvie?
We’ve already been called the Apple of women’s tech and we’re proud of it. Ultimately, the vision is for Elvie to be the global hub for connected health and lifestyle products for women.