“We truly believe that we are stronger together” : Interview with Hormona Co-Founders, Jasmine Tagesson (COO) and Karolina Löfqvist (CEO)

On a mission to revolutionise women’s health through tech, Hormona is a data-driven startup targeting hormonal imbalances with innovative solutions. Founded in 2019 in London as an online community, Hormona has since evolved into a platform empowering women to take control of their health and their hormones.

With 80% of all women affected by a hormone imbalance, which can not only be an emotional and physical rollercoaster ride but also the sign of different underlying health issues, it’s high time that all women understand their hormone pattern. Hormona wants to make hormone tracking natural and easy, empowering women with beneficial and actionable insights on their health.

Over the next year, Hormona will be launching the world’s first at-home hormone monitoring system for real-time hormone tracking.

We had the opportunity to chat with Hormona Co-Founders, Jasmine Tagesson (COO) and Karolina Löfqvist (CEO) to learn more about the Hormona story, women’s health, and how tech can bridge the gender-health gap.

Hormona was founded in 2019 and is just about to launch its hormone tracking app that is empowering women to take control of their health and their hormones. Can you tell us a bit more about the company? What is the vision behind Hormona?

Hormona is the result of one of the founders personal journeys with health and wellbeing. After being bounced between multiple doctors over years and years without any real help she eventually figured out that she suffered from hormone imbalance and thyroid dysfunction. It was this experience that led to the launch of Hormona which started out as an educational platform around women’s health and hormones but after speaking to countless women in the community it became obvious that we needed to do more. This realisation is what inspired us to develop the Hormona app and home tests. The Hormona app allows women to fully understand their individual hormonal cycle pattern, maintain hormonal balance through easy daily tips and engage with women in our community along with tracking and improving on hormonal symptoms. We are also developing the first of its kind, home hormone test for women to test and monitor their hormone levels on a regular basis. Through consistent monitoring and by knowing your individual hormonal baselines we can help you with irregular cycles, PCOS, infertility, menopause and much more because at the end of the day everything from our physical to mental wellbeing is controlled by our hormones. Our vision is for every woman to be empowered and in control when it comes to her hormones. 

What were the main challenges in launching Hormona?

There are always a lot of challenges involved in launching any kind of business, from technology challenges to team dynamics but we think the biggest challenge for us has definitely been to fundraise. Raising money as two female founders of a female-focused business, solving a problem almost exclusively affecting women and pitching mostly to men has not been easy. The general lack of knowledge around hormones and hormonal health means that not everyone has understood how important this really is but we’re proud to be among the 2% of female founders that have managed to raise money to bring this solution to life. 

Women’s health has long been underserved and underrepresented. Women in business as well. Now, you are taking on both worlds at the same time. How has this experience been for you? What’s your story?

That is so right, not only has women’s health been desperately underserved but so have women in general. In anything from work life to home life, women’s needs have never really been equally looked after or addressed but we do believe we’re slowly shifting that. With more and more companies popping up in the women’s health space and with more women in powerful positions across the board we are finally demanding a change. We truly believe that we are stronger together so the more spotlight we can all shine on both women in business and women’s health the quicker we’re going to make a real change. Our experience so far, in terms of coming together to bring about change has been really positive and we are constantly approached by women wanting to join in our mission and help spread the word of Hormona because we as women realise we need more female-focused solutions.

There have been period tracking apps for a couple of years now, but hormone tracking is still fairly new. What inspired you to go down this route?

Our period is only part of our monthly cycle and the symptoms we may experience stretches beyond just that short period (no pun intended) and in turn influence so much more than just our period so it was important to us that we start looking at the bigger picture which is our hormonal health. As we mentioned earlier it was Karolina’s personal experience that started this journey off but our decision to take on hormonal health and wellbeing as a whole has been constantly confirmed by all the women wanting to learn more about hormones. By controlling our most essential body functions, our hormones play a key role in our health and affect us women on a daily basis, throughout life. They are constantly changing, and changing a lot. But there is currently no digitalisation or personalisation when it comes to hormone health and that’s what we’re on a mission to change.

Hormones obviously impact so many aspects of our lives – our energy levels, our mood, our weight, our skin, our general health. Why has it taken so long for us to pay attention to our hormones?

That is a very good question and something we ask ourselves all the time. We think partly it’s because hormonal fluctuation mainly affect women in a negative way and until fairly recently there weren’t as many women in key positions for driving research and developments in this field. Historically, researchers and doctors have mostly been men and we tend to solve problems that affect us personally. In addition to that, men have historically, also tended to be in control of wealth and finances further limiting resources into issues and conditions exclusive to women. Still today there is not heaps of research, resources and data when it comes to our hormones but we hope to help and take part in furthering this field and improving hormonal health for all women.

What do you think is the key reason behind such a gap in our knowledge about women’s health?

As we mentioned before, the lack of research in this field has meant limited knowledge and in turn limited spread of knowledge but we are changing this. Younger generations of women have grown up in another era which has made them much more inquisitive and refusing to take “I don’t know” or “no” for an answer. This pushback is what will help raise awareness around women’s health issues and drive innovation in this field.

How can we make sure the next generation (and ourselves) are more informed about women’s health?

We think we are already doing it- to be more informed we need to ask more questions and we need to keep pushing for answers. The time when a woman was told “it’s just part of being a woman” or “I’m afraid you just have to deal with it” is over and we need to demand the deserved attention for our pains and suffering. Through solutions such as Hormona and other various femtech offerings we now have the information, technology and data to really understand our bodies and what’s happening to us on a regular basis along with actual treatments or solutions that have been designed by women for women. Let’s talk to friends and family about our health and hormones and let’s together learn more about how we can proactively optimise our life for improved health. Let’s stop being silent!

What do you see as the next trends in women’s health? Is it a sector on the up? Or does it still need more attention?

We still feel there is a lot more to do in this sector so we’re hoping it is still on the up. Data is desperately needed to improve women’s health and the more attention, funding and focus this sector gets the quicker we will close that data gap and improve health outcomes for all women.

What advice would you have to any budding female entrepreneur out there?

It may sound cheesy but it’s got to be: Never give up. We’re not sure how many times we’ve been ready to drop everything and go for a more “secure” and “stable” job but at the end of the day, we’ve always come to the conclusion that there is no reward as great as the reward of having your own company. Being blessed doing something you love every single day is a luxury that is worth every bit of struggle. Starting your own company as a woman might still be a little tougher as there’s the added pressure of our biological clock and let’s be frank, not even a fraction of the funding that’s going to our male counterparts but with hard work, any woman can make it. You’ve just got to get thick skin quick, and not take things personally. And coming back to where we started, don’t ever give up!

Has there been any women (or men) that have inspired you along your journey? 

There are thankfully more and more amazing women out there doing great things and inspiring all of us along with showing us we can do it! Some of those that have inspired us most lately are:

 Carolyn Witte – we love her mission of a one-stop-shop for women’s health, it is so needed and she’s a great northern star for other women’s health start-ups showing just how big this sector is.

 Whitney Wolfe – what a comeback after Tinder – she definitely proved our motto of never giving up and her success has really inspired us to work towards entering the exclusive group of female-founded companies that’s managed to do an IPO in the UK.