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sisterMAG Start Up Spotlight: Natural Cycles

Dr. Elina Berglund and Dr. Raoul Scherwitzl from Natural Cycles founded their innovative business in 2013 to offer women natural contraception in the shape of an app that is able to detect the daily status of fertility. The want to contribute to develop women’s health and provide women with enough knowledge to make informed decisions about their health and bodies. Meet the founders and their app in this sisterMAG Start Up Spotlight.

sisterMAG Start Up Spotlight: Natural contraception with Natural Cycles

  • Industry: FemTech
  • Headquarter: Stockholm
  • Founders: Dr. Elina Berglund und Dr. Raoul Scherwitzl

1. Explain in your own words the idea behind Natural Cycles? What exactly is Natural Cycles?

Natural Cycles is an effective, natural method of contraception that is delivered in the form of an app. It uses an intelligent algorithm that is sensitive to subtle patterns in a woman’s cycle to determine daily fertility based on basal body temperature and period data.

To use Natural Cycles, women measure their temperature first thing in the morning with a basal thermometer and enter the data into the app. The algorithm uses this information to predict the fertile window and gives “green” days, when no protection is needed or “red” days, when women should use condoms or abstain from sex to prevent a pregnancy.

2. How and when did the idea of Natural Cycles come about?

The idea was first conceived when we started to think about having a family. I knew that I wanted to get pregnant in a year or two. Therefore, I stopped using hormonal contraception to give my body a chance to get back to normal first. I started analysing my own temperature and applying my statistical knowledge from particle physics to detect ovulation and map out my fertile days. In 2013 we finally founded Natural Cycles.

3. What is the vision of Natural Cycles?

Natural Cycles’ mission is to pioneer women’s health with research and passion, by empowering every woman with the knowledge that she needs to be in charge of her health.

4. Who founded Natural Cycles? What did the founders do before that?

I was a former member of the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) and part of the team that discovered the Higgs Boson particle – one of the most significant discoveries in particle physics, which went on to win a Nobel Prize.

My husband Raoul also has a background in particle physics and had always aspired to be an entrepreneur, using his knowledge of physics to make an impact in society.

5. Of how many people is the team comprised today?

We work with a wonderful team of 60 talented people in our offices in Europe and the US.

6. How is Natural Cycles financed? How does Natural Cycles earn money?

We have great investors on board, who are known for their long-term, consumer- oriented way of thinking, and who trust us.

In addition, we deliberately opted for a paid and therefore ad-free subscription model in which our users can choose between different subscriptions. This was particularly important in terms of data protection – because this is our top priority.

7. For whom is Natural Cycles the right form of contraception? Who are your customers, where do they come from and how do they find you?

Our users are 30-years-old on average and mostly in a relationship. Some of them have children, others would like to have a family in the near future. What they have in common is that they are all looking for an effective natural method of contraception. Using Natural Cycles does require a level of commitment. The woman must be willing to use protection or abstain from sex on red days and have a lifestyle that enables her to take her temperature first thing most mornings.

8. What are your goals for the next five years?

We want to empower women to make informed decisions and take control of their fertility by learning about their unique cycles – no matter if they would like to prevent or plan a pregnancy. Our long-term goal is to improve the understanding of women’s health more generally.

9. What does a normal working day look like for you? Is there a special team ritual or something similar?

We have a wonderful tradition here in Sweden, called “Fika”. Fika is kind of a pause from everyday life, a small break with coffee and pastries. For half an hour every Friday, we meet at the office and talk about both private and work-related issues, while enjoying the tastiest cinnamon buns you can get.