Discover more from Startup Pirate by Alex Alexakis
Building The Future Of Female Tech
Building the future of female technology with Inne, funding announcements, new VC fund, jobs, all things Beat and Geekbot, and more
Merry Christmas everyone!🎄🎅 Welcome to Hunting Greek Unicorns #19. I’m a startup guy based out of Greece, and every two weeks I will share news, jobs and more from the Greek startup ecosystem, and not only.
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🎙️ Building the future of female technology: A fireside chat with Eirini Rapti
This week I’m excited to chat with Eirini Rapti, founder and CEO of inne, and deep dive into a really interesting female technology product. What is particularly exciting is how Eirini and her multidisciplinary team (headquartered in Berlin) are combining scientific validity with ease of use, in order to build the world’s first at-home fertility monitoring mini-lab using your saliva and empower women to understand their bodies. We discussed about:
what led her to inne and the science behind it
how the team manages to combine scientific validity together with a focus on design and ease-of-use; lessons learned and challenges
the future of female tech
What is your story before inne and how did you come up with the idea?
I spent most of my career working in healthcare in the area of medical evacuations before starting inne. The idea of inne was born out of my own journey trying to find a non-hormonal contraceptive method that actually worked with science and data of the 21st century. All I could find was temperature based methods, using pen and paper, and old fashioned thermometers. I am a tech geek and love to use technology and science to optimize and improve my life and, quite frankly, there is so little available to cater to female health; it is quite shocking! There are great IoT solutions for smart home, smart dieting, smart exercise, etc and yet nothing for the female hormonal health, which is what drives the female body month after month for the biggest part of her life. It is this frustration that fired me up the most I believe to start inne.
Can you share a bit more about how inne works and the science behind it?
The simplest way to explain it, is that inne uses a few drops of your saliva on a paper-based diagnostic sensor, which in return measures your progesterone levels by returning two red lines of different intensities. Then, the inne minilab takes over to interpret how these lines develop across time and their final intensity and perform a few calculations to determine your hormonal level. This data is then combined with your cycle data and our fertility algorithm and you get a daily hormonal and fertility status update in the inne app. It is really a seamless and easy experience and yet when we first started R&D on our saliva sensor, pretty much most of the sector experts told us we would not succeed, as the concentrations of hormones we were targeting were very small and had never been achieved before. We are happily sitting on the first saliva quick test to determine progesterone levels and I am sure there will be more saliva innovations coming along in the next few years.
I love how you combine scientific validity together with a focus on design and ease-of-use. In regards to your product development, are there any challenges trying to combine these two aspects and what are the lessons learned?
There are challenges to get scientists to work with designers. These challenges are inherent in the different ways these two disciplines approach a problem. That said, like with every new innovative venture, the key challenge is, in my opinion, finding the right people no matter their training. With the right people and the right conviction and mindset such challenges actually become an opportunity and create a unique team DNA that offers growth to everyone. I love the mix of science, design, computer science and data science that our team has. It makes us unique in our challenges and opportunities.
As for lessons learned, I guess two of the biggest ones have been the following:
a) never assume that everyone understood the problem and/or solution the same way, but instead make sure that everyone is on the same page after each key discussion. This is especially applicable for a multicultural, multilingual, multifunctional team.
b) integrate the ‘don’t be afraid to fail’ mentality into the team culture as early as possible to avoid dead time caused by hesitation and ‘safe play’, when what you really need is innovation.
What do you see as the future of female tech and where does inne fit in this future?
I believe we will see a lot of consolidation and collaboration in the area of female tech in the coming years. Women are demanding platforms that integrate and help them navigate throughout the different areas of their lives rather than individual segmented services. I believe we will see buy-outs, we have seen a few in the last couple of years, but also very important collaborations between brands that women trust. At inne, we will focus more intentionally on collaborations with experts from the medical community, as well as other brands that share our values and mission in order to bring the best female health services to women.
Who else is behind inne?
I work with some of the most amazing people I know and I get to work with them in a way that helps us to challenge ourselves and grow through it and they are all from very different disciplines! Franzi with her incredibly creative mind and wealth of experience from IDEO has shaped the way we build both the product and our culture centred around what the user needs. Gianluca, who joined right from the start, brought with him a wealth of saliva scientific insights and has been pivotal on our sensor development, but also on how we integrate science in a consumer product. I could keep on going forever because each person of the team is truly unique, but I urge you to have a look at all their profiles through our team page.
As for investors, I have been lucky to have some great entrepreneurs backing me since the get go such as Rolf from Trivago and, soon after, the rest of the Trivago founding team via Monkfish, but also Dirk Friese and Martin Ostermayer from Shortcut Ventures and Max Maendler from Regis24, as well as more recently Taavet from Transferwise to name just a few. Having founders who have gone through the same set of challenges and opportunities has been pivotal for me both in the beginning, but also navigating an unexpected year such as 2020.
If you want to learn more about inne, check out their website.
🦄 Startup Jobs
Greek startups are hiring! Here are some of the latest job opportunities:
Ferryhopper - CRM Specialist (Athens) - Apply here
MarineTraffic - Senior Product Marketing Manager (Remote) - Apply here
Metrika - Senior Software Engineer (Remote) - Apply here
Netdata - Senior Product Manager (Remote) - Apply here
Orfium - Product Manager (Athens) - Apply here
Project Agora - Senior DevOps Engineer (Remote/Athens/Patras) - Apply here
Signal - Data Analyst - Shipping Intelligence (Athens) - Apply here
Skroutz - Android Developer (Athens) - Apply here
Stoferno - Front-end Developer (Athens) - Apply here
Vimachem - Senior Front-End Developer - Team Lead (Athens) - Apply here
Wappier - Software Engineer - iOS (Athens) - Apply here
Two startups with Greek founders and teams out of Greece, Goodpath (healthcare, raised $4M) and TileDB (data management, raised $19.3M), in the 2021 startups to watch in Boston.
New VC fund launch in Greece with focus on pre-seed and seed deals. TECS Capital will be based in Thessaloniki, investing mostly on emerging science and tech ventures. Lead investor is the Hellenic Development Bank for Investments.
[i2.d] technologies, a startup building a platform for SaaS delivery automation and a cloud service for data multi tenancy transformation on any datastore, announced a seed investment from Metavallon VC.
Elemendar, a cyber-security startup that develops AI tech to read and analyse cyber threat intelligence data and identify key actionable threats, raised a £680K round led by Newable Ventures.
Metavallon VC invested in VALK, a London and Zurich based fintech with a product for private markets to help investment banks, asset managers and fund managers digitize their processes and assets.
MeduSoil, a startup in the civil engineering space and spin-off of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL), raised a $2.2M seed round.
Echofin, a communications platform for financial teams, closed a £320K round in crowdfunding through Seedrs, increasing the company’s total investment to $930K.
Electric car manufacturer Next.e.GO Mobile SE, a company founded in 2015, announced a €100M investment in Greece.
Envolve Entrepreneurship announced the launch of the 8th Envolve Award Greece startup competition and is accepting applications until March 3, 2021.
The third cycle of CapsuleT accelerator concluded with the following winners: Campsaround, Tourmie and EV Loader.
Useberry, a codeless prototype analytics platform, was featured in Business Insider's list of startups making remote working easier for businesses.
💭 Reading or listening
A podcast with Nikos Drandakis, founder & ex-CEO of Beat, sharing many interesting insights and lessons learned throughout the Taxibeat days from the very first days to launching in Latin America, transitioning to a ride-hailing model and finally the acquisition and the journey after it.
Interesting chat on all things Geekbot and much more with Nick Papanotas, founder & CEO of Geekbot, with Antonis Kalipetis and Paris Kasidiaris at Mikri Kouventa.
The 2020 report by Found.ation was published with insights on the current status of the startup ecosystem in Greece.
A discussion with Dr. Evangelia Balatsou, Cognitive Neuroscientist, and Lefteris Statharas at Lefteris asks science, on brain, language and the twitter account @GreekGirlsCode.
More podcast episodes for today! Ioannis Papapanagiotou, Senior Engineering Manager at Netflix, having a conversation around the data platform teams and the technologies used at Netflix.
A post on Forbes about the seven mistakes CEOs make in the pursuit of growth from Caterina Kostoula, Executive & Team Coach.
That’s it for Hunting Greek Unicorns in 2020! Thanks a lot for being part of this new journey this year. I can’t wait to see what’s next.
Here’s to a happy, healthy and prosperous new year 🎉
Stay safe and sane,
Greek Startup Pirate 👋