When a doctor ventures out to try her hands at entrepreneurship, we expect her to address a real pain point. Two sisters hailing from Kerala’s Kanuur, an Ayurveda doctor and an architect, have exactly done that with their one-year-old startup helping women suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a common hormonal condition that affects women of reproductive age.
The startup named Curate, co-founded by Dr Vandana Jayakumar and Keerthana Jayakumar, has launched an online platform which offers personalised plans for PCOS reversal based on the condition of each patient who subscribes to the product.
“PCOS can cause hormonal imbalances, irregular periods, excess androgen levels and cysts in the ovaries. Irregular periods, usually with a lack of ovulation, can make it difficult to become pregnant. PCOS is a leading cause of infertility. PCOS is a chronic condition and cannot be cured. However, some symptoms can be improved through lifestyle changes, medications and fertility treatments,” according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
When it comes to PCOS reversal, Curate focusses on a holistic approach integrating lifestyle, nutrition, exercise, Ayurvedic wisdom and modern technology.
According to Dr Vandana, a unique feature of their platform, compared to similar players in the sector, is that it addresses both the physical and mental struggles a woman with the condition goes through.
The startup is an extension of what she did during the pandemic. She said she realised the need to look into the problem affecting too many women around when she found that there was a lot of misconception about the condition even among educated women.
“In 2018, during the initial days of medical practice in Bengaluru, I used to get a lot of PCOS cases. In a tier-1 city like Bengaluru, women have more awareness on such issues compared to tier-2 or tier-3 cities. But still I found there were a lot of stigma and misconception about the condition. That became a point where I realised there is a gap which should be fixed. During pandemic I started my PCOS reversal programme which focussed on creating awareness about what kind of PCOS a woman has and providing personalised care though Ayurveda, yoga, muscle strengthening, mental health counselling and diet plans. Later on we reached a stage where we needed to scale up the product,” Dr Vandana said.
The sisters incorporated their company in 2022 and they started with a web platform. Recently they moved to a full-fledged mobile app. Vandana said over 200 women have already used their web platform and 95 per cent of them have got their regular menstrual cycles after going through the programme.
“Ours is basically a habit forming app. We try to make diet and fitness a habit. We have gynaecologists and life coaches in our team and once a patient joins the platform, they analyse the root cause of her condition through consultation and then we prescribe medicines. Medication is needed mostly in five per cent of the cases and in most cases lifestyle changes are prescribed,” she said.
Curate finds its revenues from subscriptions. It has two plans, a premium aiming users from tier-1 cities and a standard one for tier-2 and 3 cities.
Vandana said she always wanted to be a doctor and entrepreneurship was never in her plans though her father is into business. Her husband is the chief technical officer of another startup.
Curate has already found some initial investments in an angel round finished two months ago. The company’s immediate expansion plan includes launching a similar platform for diabetes reversal.
(Startup Saturday is Onmanorama’s weekend series featuring promising startups from Kerala. Find the previous stories here)