Ava, Scaling for Success: Healthtech

Pascal Koenig - CEO & Co-Founder, Ava


I’m one of four co-founders at Ava, and an economist by training and former McKinsey consultant. Ava is my third start-up and I’ve been in the wearable healthcare space for over a decade.


All of us had very personal reasons why we wanted to start the company. In my case when we were trying to get pregnant my wife used the standard temperature method, and I was convinced that there must be a much better way to know when you are fertile than just taking your temperature at the same time every morning. So, working with physiologists we worked out a new concept and started clinical tests at the University Hospital of Zurich. And Ava was born.


Based on self-learning algorithms we are able to personalize and constantly improve the algorithms, or in other words let a woman know, precisely and conveniently, when she has her fertile days – just by wearing a bracelet during the night.


While I’m not allowed to share sales figures, the last 18 months since the launch of Ava in the US have been truly incredible. And we believe this is only the beginning.


As we scale the business the challenges change constantly. My key challenge at the moment is building the organizational strength to keep growing strongly, and to make sure we can keep our strong company culture. In our sector, getting the right balance to allocate resources between healthcare and consumer is crucial.


Raising capital is never easy, and every funding round is tough. Initially healthcare investors considered Ava too consumer focused, while some consumer tech investors saw us as too healthcare focused, but our large sales traction means it is getting easier, particularly now we have reached break-even in the US, our core market. Investors understand us now, and the frequent exchange of ideas with our current investors has made a real difference.


What I enjoy the most is working with super smart, motivated people from all over the world, and the fact that we can make a real difference in the lives of our customers – having children.


To be successful in moving from a start-up to scale-up you need to bring a lean product to market as quickly as possible, and then repeat and repeat again. Good technology is not enough – significant marketing resources are absolutely crucial. My final advice to other entrepreneurs is to remember it’s about the journey, not the exit. Building a start-up should not only be hard work, and it is believe me, but also something you truly like to do.


Image: Ava Women