How a top woman-led digital health startup is empowering 12M users to live in tune with their biology – Interview with Ida Tin, CEO & Co-Founder of Clue

Health services targeting women are increasingly in the focus of the healthcare industry. Studies affirm a multi-billion dollar market. Digital health solutions promise to play an important role in unlocking the women’s health market potential. We talked with Ida Tin, CEO & Co-Founder of Clue, a globally leading fertility app, about their market development strategies and the role of digital offerings.

The market for digital women’s health promises to be big. Prenatal care and fertility trackers are the most popular digital offerings globally. But, how can this popularity be turned into substantial business and what is really the impact of current digital solutions for women?

R2G’s global women’s digital health market report to be released in September 2019, focuses on sizing the global women’s digital healthcare market, providing an overview of key market players’ strategies and evaluating trends that will have an impact on future market development.

To enrich our analysis and validate market opinions, we delve into interviewing key players within the women’s digital health space.

Recently, we had a chance to talk to Ida Tin, CEO and Co-Founder of Clue – one of the top market players within the FemTech digital health market. In her interview with us, Ida shares Clue’s value proposition and monetization strategy of their digital health solution, the importance of data privacy and transparency, as well as the role of pharma companies in this market.

Enjoy the interview.

Research2Guidance: What is Clue offering to their member base? Why do you think Clue is so special?
Ida Tin: Clue helps everyone who menstruates to understand their bodies—and to be empowered by that knowledge. Our vision is to enable women and people with cycles to live in tune with their biology, not in spite of it. Clue is a menstrual tracking app, an encyclopedia, and a resource for women’s health. We collaborate with leading universities to advance female health research, and deliver essential education about health, periods, and sex via our website.

Our digital solution helps women to know and be better connected to their bodies, and even get early diagnoses of possible illnesses. The access to one’s cycle data assists one to make sense of and really understand what is going on inside of one’s body. The value we provide to our members is not only having an in-depth personalized overview of their menstrual health, but helping them understand what this data means so they can unlock the power of their body. Clue’s analysis feature gives a detailed picture of their cycles and it hints if anything is outside the normal ranges, so one can seek a healthcare provider.

Having the data to make an informed decision is vital for our health. We are special for our users, because the data collected can really make a difference in their lives.

Research2Guidance: As a company you collect a lot of data. How is Clue giving back to its users the insights you get from this data collection? To what extent are you using this data collection tool to inform your partner companies, for example universities, about women’s health and different patterns that you see?
Ida Tin: Clue is a mission-based company and we are very transparent. We want to push menstrual and reproductive health forward. We help our users to see their data from the start, to better understand the accumulated insights and to be able to better navigate through their everyday lives. Once there is a notification that something is not in the normal, our users can go to a healthcare provider and show their data, utilize these insights and get the treatment they need be healthier.

We see ourselves beyond a period tracker, fertility solution provider, but more as a women’s health companion. As a company we respect our user’s /customer’s privacy and for us it is important to build a relationship based on trust. We collaborate with universities and researchers, but these are not commercial collaborations. The data shared can’t be traced to a specific user.

Research2Guidance: In which of the conditions do you think either the data you collect is more suitable or the service you provide is most suitable to support, for example – migraine, mental health? In the case of chronic conditions, the data you collect can be vital to identify earlier health patterns out of the norm.
Ida Tin: Absolutely. At the beginning of our journey, we were focused on how to help users navigate their period, pregnancy, mental health; however, I would say we are much more than that. Women’s health is the best headline of what Clue is.

Clue is positioned as a period tracker, because people go online and search for this term. No one searches for “women’s health app”. I am curious to see whether Apple and Google will create a women’s health category, as now there is health and fitness, but not specifically for women’s health.

Research2Guidance: Our initial digital women’s health market research showed that there are more than 3400 apps.
Ida Tin: Yes, and it could be even more depending on the keyword searches. I wonder, how many of them are beyond the period, fertility and strictly educational apps.

Research2Guidance: Who are you main competitors?
Ida Tin: I would say in terms of functionality and within the period trackers space – Glow, Flo, and period tracker Cherry. In terms of where these companies are and where they are going, we feel have a unique position – to not only be a great period tracker but also offer a vision and a voice for women.

Research2Guidance: What is your business model? How does Clue envision making money today and in the near future?
Ida Tin: To build a sustainable company aligned with our vision and purpose means we have to choose a business model that not only brings us revenue, but also supports our long-term commitment to help our users live better lives in tune with their biology.

We want to build a premium subscription model on very specific use cases, for example, contraception. We have all this data that can be useful to a user, because it is not only collected, but analyzed and personalized. It could also be modified to specific user needs. There is currently no big company in the women’s digital health world that stands out and I believe the opportunity is huge. We have started by building a good relationship while offering a great digital solution and at the end of the day the question is – who do you trust to get your data, to help you with your health journey?!

Research2Guidance: The company is in the market for 5-6 years now. At present do you generate revenue?
Ida Tin: We have a subscription option that is not pushed at all. Our focus was to first build trust, build the base, and be able to offer a great solution and then we can come up with how to monetize it.

Research2Guidance: How many users do you have?
Ida Tin: Around 12M active users.

Research2Guidance: Health insurance companies have a key role in the digital health market. What do you see are the main barriers for a service like yours to be part of the first healthcare market?
Ida Tin: I would say this is a tricky part that needs careful thought and more in-depth dialogue. We haven’t thought of this yet and we haven’t had discussions with health insurers. So far, our focus is on the consumer.

Research2Guidance: Our hypothesis is for insurers to venture first into the pregnancy management solutions.
Ida Tin: And here again comes the question of data and how much data you want to share with your health insurance company? I think the future is more within diagnostics, digital therapeutics.

Research2Guidance: We also see a tendency in the market where companies connect their services to devices (thermometers, scales, etc. …) as a way not only to generate more revenues, but also to open the door to payers organizations. There could be a bundle offer or sell a solution / product separately.
Ida Tin: Absolutely. This is something that we could venture into and offer different digital solutions bundled with a device.

Research2Guidance: At R2G, we look at certain segments of the market, like for example, diabetes. This is the most advanced market within the digital health space and one can learn a lot from how it evolved during the years and where it is headed.
Ida Tin: One can look at different market segments and takeaway valuable insights that could be applicable to its own business. For me there is so much potential within the diagnostics area.

Research2Guidance: Where do you see pharma in women’s digital health? What is their role?
Ida Tin: I think there is a huge market opportunity and a lot to be done. Pharma companies could be much more active and use data more wisely. For example, getting more data on birth control can help them create and offer, for example, a customized birth control pill. Would people buy it? Of course, they will.

Research2Guidance: Where do you see Clue today and in 2-3 years?
Ida Tin: I see Clue within the wellness health market. Incorporating diagnostics and medication, but venturing more into the consumer wellness lifestyle space. We have a lot of great features and data that allow us to reshape and be more a part of womens’ unique life cycle. Health, wellness and all other needs a woman might have at a particular stage of her life, we can be there for her. In a way to be the one companion throughout all her life stages – period tracking, pregnancy, menopause, etc. I see us also more B2B oriented with users in control of their data, yet sharing it where it could make sense to them to do that.

The questions we need to answer are: How can we be what consumers need and how can we take the data we have and make a positive change in this world? It is not only about health, but I see it more as a life changing journey.

Research2Guidance: So, one of your partners could be the WHO. They have opened a new segment on digital health within the organization.
Ida Tin: Yes. It could be.

Within the women’s digital health market, I think there is going to be a consolidation. There are a lot of fragmentations right now. Also, I believe more and more funding will come into the market. The opportunity is huge to generate revenues.

At Clue we see ourselves as one health data point where women come and find answers they need. It took us time to build a trustworthy brand, to establish strong relationships with our users and now our role will be to make it a valuable companion in all the stages of their lives. It all comes from having this tailored data and seeing the value it provides to empower one’s life.

Research2Guidance: We see that some platforms, for example within the DNA space are offering donation of the data sets. Right from the beginning this is part of their business model. There is transparency, so users can decide whether they want to “donate” / share their data with research institutions, and they become aware of what their benefits are of doing so – they could receive money, reward, etc.
Ida Tin: I think this requires having ethical standards right from the beginning. There are companies making money by selling data with no transparency and users are not aware of how their data is used.

As a mission-based company, for us at Clue it is important to be transparent with our users, to be open and honest about how the data is used and where the data is going. Trust is crucial in this space. We have experimented with various business models and we are still figuring out the right direction to start making our own money.

Research2Guidance: Ida, thank you for your time and for all the insights you have shared with us.

About Clue

Clue ( the woman-led digital health startup based in Berlin, Germany, is a free-to-download, free-to-use, period tracking app, designed to help women and people with cycles around the world track their periods and better understand their bodies. To date, Clue has more than 12 million active users across more than 190 countries.

Founded in 2012 and launched in 2013, Clue boasts the most streamlined, user-friendly menstrual-cycle tracking app available. Clue is available in 15 languages and is on iOS, Android and Apple Watch. Constructed by a dedicated team of developers and data scientists, Clue has built advanced algorithms to detect users’ unique patterns. Clue is then able to provide personalised predictions based on the individual user’s data that has been input.

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