Elvie: femtech CEO on coronavirus disruption, fundraising, new products

  • Pioneering femtech startup Elvie says it has tripled its revenue for 2020, despite disruption from the coronavirus.
  • The women’s health company says it has adopted an Apple-like model that mixes services and innovative hardware.
  • Elvie has increased headcount by 55% in 2020 and is set to launch a major fundraise in the coming weeks. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Femtech startup Elvie has gone from a tricky sell to investors to one of Europe’s hottest tech companies in the space of a few years. 

The UK-based “femtech” (technology aimed at improving women’s health) company is committed to becoming a “one-stop shop” for women’s health, according to CEO and cofounder Tania Boler. The startup’s products cover a variety of needs including breast feeding and pelvic floor exercises. 

Elvie Pump (single)

Elvie’s breast pump.

Elvie


Boler holds a PhD on teenage pregnancy and HIV in South Africa, plus qualifications in experimental psychology and international educational policy. Her background is in campaigning for women’s health, and she was previously the global director of research and innovation at Marie Stopes International.

“Our heartbeat is turning medical products into women’s health products which they love,” Boler told Business Insider. 

Currently, Elvie sells a number of products. One is the Elvie Trainer, a pelvic floor trainer and app that is now used by the NHS. The wearable device enables women to undertake daily five-minute exercises that strengthen their pelvic floor muscles, with the accompanying app providing feedback in real time.

Another is a silent, wearable breast pump, which Elvie claims is a world-first and makes it possible to pump any time, anywhere. A companion app lets women monitor pumping progress and pause pumping when the bottle is full. Elvie also offers Catch and Curve, which are tech-less hardware options. 

The company is set to launch new products in the first quarter of 2021 following production delays. 

According to market research firm Frost and Sullivan, the femtech industry is expected to reach a market size of up to $50 billion by 2025. Elvie’s own growth has tripled in 2020, according to Boler who said that US revenues have doubled this year. 

Boler doesn’t precisely compare Elvie to Apple, but says the startup has borrowed Apple’s model of mixing services, products, accessories, tech, and hardware. 

Much like the Cupertino giant, Elvie wasn’t immune to supply chain issues during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic.

The company’s operations in China had already been disrupted by ongoing US-China trade disputes, while the pandemic hit production at Elvie’s Mexican factory. “It was a nightmare,” Boler said.

Production staff would usually spend months onboarding on location but were unable to do so. It led to some creative thinking with some engineers 3D printing designs in their homes while other engineers at the company’s Bristol R&D hub directed staff in Mexico equipped with Go-Pro cameras via video calls. 

One potential positive out of the pandemic has been hiring.

“We’ve brought in some amazing women from companies like Amazon and Costa, and when Dyson

Holiday shopping to start early, despite coronavirus pandemic, at ‘significantly higher’ rates

Public uneasiness over the coronavirus pandemic, social unrest and the presidential election has not put a dent in America’s holiday spending plans.

Consumers are predicted to spend $997.79 on gifts, holiday items such as decorations and food, and additional purchases for themselves and their families this year, according to a new survey and comparative research conducted by the National Retail Federation.

That’s down by a mere $8 from a similar poll conducted last year. Shopping itself is a way to shift focus from the “uncertainty and stress” of current times and look to a “our return to a better tomorrow,” the survey analysis said.

“Consumers have demonstrated their resilience and adaptability throughout these extraordinary times,” said Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the retail organization.

Expected spending remains “significantly higher” than the five-year average — and the shopping frenzy should begin shortly: 42% of U.S. consumers say they plan to start their holiday shopping by the end of October, another 41% in November, according to the organization’s annual poll.

It also delves into shopper motivation:

• 53% of U.S. adults would be prompted to start holiday shopping earlier than usual by a sale or promotion.

• 37% would go early to avoid crowds, 31% to avoid stress of last-minute shopping.

• 26% would go if their preferred items likely sell out; 20 would to get holiday items early.

• 19% would shop early if they had extra money from a government stimulus.

• 13% say “nothing” would prompt them to shop early.

Source: A National Retail Federation/Prosper Insights survey of 7,660 U.S. adults was conducted Oct. 1-9 and released Thursday. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.1 percentage points.

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Wedding At Country Club Sparks Positive Coronavirus Tests: County

CUTCHOGUE, NY — The North Fork Country Club closed for 14 days after at least two people tested positive for the coronavirus following a wedding at the facility, according to Suffolk County officials.

Management at the club confirmed to Patch Saturday that the country club closed on Thursday for 14 days.

“We reached out to Department of Health and we are working with them to provide all information needed,” the business said in a statement. “In respect of our employees and in compliance with HIPPA we are not able to disclose the health status of our employees.”

According to a representative for Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, the event was a wedding.

No details have been provided yet regarding how many were present at the wedding or if the number in attendance violated the state’s coronavirus protocols; so far, no enforcement action has been taken but an investigation is underway, officials said.

The Suffolk County Department of Health Services is aware of more than one person who attended the event, then tested positive for the coronavirus; those individuals are currently under home isolation, Bellone’s media representative said.

“This is an ongoing investigation. Any persons who attended the event are encouraged to self-quarantine at home at this time and seek testing for any symptoms,” county officials said. “We do not have any more information about the event to share at this time.”

Bellone’s office shared information about isolation and quarantine protocols, which can be found on the Suffolk County website.

Suffolk County health officials “strongly” urged catering halls and persons wishing to hold an event to follow New York State guidance for food services during the pandemic, county officials said.

According to a post in the Suffolk Times, the event has led to impacts throughout the community, with Love Lane Kitchen closing Thursday because two employees had attended the wedding; all employees will be tested and operations may limited to maintain customer safety and adequate staffing, the report said. The owner of Love Lane Kitchen did not immediately return a request for comment.

Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said he didn’t have any details about the incident yet and said the investigation was being handled by the Suffolk County Department of Health.

“We were not involved in this event or aftermath,” Southold Town Police Chief Martin Flatley said.

In September, Giorgio’s Baiting Hollow, a popular Long Island wedding venue, had its liquor license suspended after the New York State’s task force reported that 95 people, more than twice the legal limit, attended a reception, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

That news led to an outcry from lawmakers and business owners who said they believe livelihoods are on the line and catering facilities should be allowed to open at 50 percent capacity.

Earlier in October, a Sweet 16 at a Miller Place catering hall led to 37 coronavirus cases and a total of 81 guests quarantined — the event also led to closure of a local high school; that event is now

University of Idaho coronavirus model predicts decrease following dramatic spike in cases

“Once we get through that new pile of susceptible people that are getting COVID, we should see start seeing that downward trend again.”

MOSCOW, Idaho — In early April, nearly a full month after the first confirmed case of COVID-19 was reported in Idaho, forecast models were being examined.

According to information from a model forecast put out by the University of Washington (UW) Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, if Idaho had strictly adhered to social distancing and safety protocols, the number of COVID-19 related deaths would have peaked on April 16.

The first COVID-19 case was reported in Idaho on March 13. The state’s first death was reported on March 22 and by April 8, COVID-19 deaths were reported across the state.

On April 8, the model from UW suggested about ten more deaths would be reported by April 16, when deaths were expected to peak. By August 4, 57 Idahoans would have died from COVID-19.

This was predicted in the midst of Idaho’s stay-at-home order, which was issued on March 25 and lifted on May 1. On August 4, seven COVID-19 related deaths were reported and the actual statewide total jumped to 214.

Shortly after sharing those April 8 numbers, the University of Idaho revealed they were working on a model forecast of its own. In fact, it was being used in the Governor’s office to decide how to reopen the state in phases.   

In mid-June, KTVB spoke with one of the mathematicians working on that model about how their model was projecting the pandemic would play out in the Gem State.

Back then, on June 22, Idaho was reporting about 4,100 COVID-19 cases and 89 deaths. On Thursday, that state reported 56,600 cases and 560 deaths.

Dr. Ben Ridenhour, from the U of I math department, is working on the model and said a spike that large was somewhat expected by their model. They expected to see a jump in cases during the summer, but the recent spike is a bit of a surprise.

“The only thing that we’ve really changed over the last couple of months is that we allowed schools to reopen,” Ridenhour said. “The biggest surprise to me is how much you see that third wave, I guess you want to call it.”

As those COVID-19 numbers climb, so does the number of people hospitalized with the virus. This is illustrated in the model graph showing what has happened since March in Idaho.

The model shows at this period of time that hospitalizations should be declining. However, Idaho’s case numbers are going up.

“I think the hope here is that the model shows maybe we’re going to see a downward trend in hospitalizations. Part of that is predicated on this being a wave that is happening primarily in younger people and that it is also somewhat driven by school reopening,” Ridenhour said. “So once we get through that new pile of susceptible people that are getting COVID, we should see start seeing that

Coronavirus’ Impact On Customer Shopping Behavior And What To Expect For The Holidays

The coronavirus pandemic will have a profound impact on holiday shopping due to dramatically changed shopping behaviors. Customers want to feel safe shopping in stores and are spending money in different categories than last year, as we go into the holiday season. Inventories in stores are running significantly lower than last year and the rise in digital shopping has accelerated streamlined commerce. Care for the planet is a stronger purchasing consideration. 

Significant shifts in customer purchasing behavior

The impact of the pandemic has been a wake-up call for consumers, putting them on notice that nature prevails. Purchasing behavior shifted dramatically between March and August. In the first wave (March and April) of the pandemic, customers were focused on stocking up on groceries and household goods such as cleaning supplies, paper towels and toilet paper. Less discretionary spending was evident, especially on apparel and accessories which experienced a sales drop (year over year) of  51% in March and 86% in April for U.S. retailers. 

In the second wave (April through May) customer demand shifted toward products that supported a stay-at-home environment including remote learning and working from home. Growth was experienced in electronics, home office, home theater, games and streamed content.  

The third wave of the pandemic exhibited stronger sales in discretionary categories as compared to the first two waves. June through August apparel and accessory sales dropped 22-25% compared to last year, a great improvement from the drop of 62% in May. August brought a slow and extended back-to-school period which lasted through September and included shifts from the traditional categories of clothing and supplies to electronics and remote learning items. 

September sales results showed the best performance post-pandemic in apparel and accessories, dropping only 12%. Other segments that performed well in September were Grocery (up 10.5%), Home Improvement (up 23.4%) and Discount/Warehouse
CHEF
stores (up 6.8%). Traditional department stores, heavily reliant on apparel and accessories, continued their soft performance — down 8.2% but better than season-to-date at minus 19.4%. 

Superhero status

The hero segment is an obvious one with online purchasing leading throughout the pandemic. Season-to-date sales through September are up 22.1% over last year, with September itself up 27%. Amazon
AMZN
posted 26% increased revenue in the first quarter, 40% increased revenue in the second quarter, and is expected to post similar results for the third quarter.

While apparel and accessories were soft across all segments of the industry, Millennial and Gen Z favored online brand, ASOS, was able to achieve a 10% increase over the period of March through June, a beacon of light in an otherwise difficult category. 

Holiday shopping extends from October through December

Kiosk model becomes lifeline for Florida restaurateurs during coronavirus pandemic

Two Florida restaurateurs — whose eateries were arranged like Chipotle-style assembly lines — had to overhaul their entire business model early this year in a bid to not only survive the coronavirus pandemic but also to avoid layoffs.

Robert and Teresa Ly, co-founders of Sus Hi Eatstation restaurants, told FOX Business on Wednesday that they quickly found their lifeline: kiosks.

RESTAURANT INDUSTRY LEADER: CORONAVIRUS AID URGENTLY NEEDED TO BATTLE ‘FIGHT OF OUR LIVES’

Previously, customers would line up at the counter, order with one of the employees and then walk down the line as the food is prepared in front of them.

However, when the pandemic struck, forcing droves of eateries to shutter, the Lys realized that the business model that had served them since 2011 would no longer work if they wanted to keep guests and employees safe.

And although the machines were a huge “pivot” — and expense — they became a “lifesaver” for each of their nine restaurants by giving their customers a sense of safety.

“It gave [customers] a sense of comfort and safety that we didn’t have before,” Robert Ly said.

40% OF RESTAURANTS TO CLOSE WITHIN 6 MONTHS WITHOUT MORE CORONAVIRUS AID

Early on, the entrepreneurs used a “makeshift” kiosk for pickup orders through their preexisting system. However, the system was flawed and created a lot of issues.

Three months into the pandemic, the entrepreneurs turned to Grubbrr, a company that specializes in kiosk payment technologies. They implemented two kiosks at each of their restaurants across the state, costing them between $5,000-$7,000 per location. To convert all of their locations, they spent between $40,000-50,000.

The investment paid off.

Customers order food at a Sus Hi Eatstation restaurant. (GRUBBRR)

By August, foot traffic skyrocketed. Some of their nine locations saw sales increase by 50% while others increased between 10% to 20%, although the increase in occupancy restrictions had also helped, Robert Ly added.

In their fight for survival, the Lys learned the best thing to do in this type of industry is to learn how to adapt and pivot quickly. This can pertain to changes in customer needs as well as the overall environment.

“It’s a battlefield in a sense,” Robert Ly said. “I guess you have to take the leap of faith at times and not be afraid of having to change.”

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However, in doing so, Teresa Ly said it forced them to take a closer look at their operations and the safety of their people.

“When everything changed, that was really the first thing on my mind was how do we take care of our people? How do we keep them employed?” she recalled.

They were able to do just that.

By adapting to the seamless takeout system — while also forgoing their salary for a short stint — the Lys were able to weather the last

UMass model sees state passing 10,000 coronavirus deaths

A University of Massachusetts model suggests the state’s coronavirus death tally will pass the 10,000 mark in several weeks.

The model says the state could reach 10,220 deaths by Nov. 14, though researchers noted the numbers could range between 10,084 and 10,390.

The model numbers reflect both confirmed and probable coronavirus deaths. The state had tallied 9,758 confirmed and probable deaths as of Tuesday.

The rate of deaths reported each day has declined after a terrifying climb this spring. But the heartbreaking numbers have not gone to zero.

Case numbers have been rising in recent weeks. The model sees the numbers bouncing up and down over the next four weeks, ending on an uptick.

Governor Charlie Baker has acknowledged the recent rise in cases, but says the state is prepared for the fall and winter.

The projection comes from a lab headed by UMass Amherst associate professor Nicholas Reich that collects various models and develops a combined forecast that is intended to reflect their collective wisdom.

The lab only creates the forecast for a four-week window ahead because researchers believe forecasts aren’t reliable enough after that.

Reich’s lab posts its national- and state-level data every week at the Reich Lab COVID-19 Forecast Hub. The lab, already an Influenza Forecasting Center of Excellence, collaborates with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on coronavirus predictions. The lab feeds the data it has collected and its ensemble forecast to the agency, which posts the data on its own website.

Researchers from Google who have collaborated with Harvard on a model that looks only two weeks ahead predicted 10,119 coronavirus deaths in Massachusetts by Nov. 1. The UMass model is more optimistic, predicting around 9,951 deaths by Oct. 31.

The UMass model also predicts that the total number of deaths in the United States from coronavirus will reach around 240,000 by Nov. 14.

While US cases have been on the rise, prompting alarm about a devastating new surge, the UMass model sees the national case numbers stabilizing in the next four weeks.

Looking further into the future, the closely followed model from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation sees much more suffering and grief ahead. It has projected that the nation could tally around 390,000 coronavirus deaths by Feb. 1.


Martin finucane can be reached at martin.finucane@globe.com.

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Mit4Mit: How to plan a wedding during coronavirus in Israel

Weddings are generally a complicated business to organize, and all the more so in the coronavirus era.

That’s what Oved Yosef realized before creating “Mit4Mit,” a dedicated venture to help brides and grooms organize their wedding during the coronavirus pandemic. 
‘Mit4Mit’ is a personal digital interface that adapts itself to the needs of customers while helping suppliers reach relevant target audiences in accordance with their areas of interest, such as music, venue, photographer, make up, etc.

Among all the hardships and difficulties wedding planning is now facing, the new venture Mit4Mit – getting married (mit-hatnim) for getting married – is the leading social site in Israel in the field of weddings, according to VAYO reviews.

“The corona period has changed the world of weddings beyond recognition and has brought far-reaching changes,” said Yosef, Mit4Mit CEO. 

“In the last few months, we have studied the market in its current format and our goal is to enable couples and small businesses, which are making a living from the industry, to survive and get through this period in peace.”

As part of the project, a wide range of services and options are available on the website of the new wedding business:
 

– Connection between couples and suppliers, using technological tools.
 

– Coverage of trends, tips for small and safe weddings, tailored content (guides, benefits and discounts, relevant opinions) according to the current stage of the wedding to organize.
 

– A free application to manage the wedding process and start with a built-in, personally tailorable task list.
 

– Help in building a guest list, sending a health statement, managing the wedding budget, designing and sending a digital invitation, arrival confirmations, arranging tables to the greetings and documenting the gifts the couple received.
 

“Our platform allows the bride and groom and the supplier community to avoid damages and hold the event on the safest and best side,” Yosef concluded.

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Mexico: Wedding resulted in 100 infected with coronavirus

Authorities in Mexico say more than 100 people are believed to have been infected by the coronavirus at a wedding early this month in the northern border city of Mexicali

Pérez Rico told local media that there were apparently no masks or temperature checks at the event and that the organizers also did not have permission to hold an event of that size during the pandemic.

Photos published in local media show wedding guests dancing together without masks.

Mexicali has seen almost half of Baja California state’s 21,800 coronavirus cases. Nationwide, Mexico has recorded almost 1 million confirmed cases and about 86,300 deaths.

Officials fear more infections could be sparked by upcoming celebrations, especially the Day of the Dead holiday Nov. 1-2, when families visit relatives’ graves. Some local authorities have said they will discourage or limit such gatherings.

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Creighton Prep considers hybrid attendance model as coronavirus cases increase | Education

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Poggenpohl said the switch to the hybrid model will be made if case numbers in Douglas County stay the same or get worse. Numbers within the Prep community remain low, she said, but medical professionals have advised the school to consider making the switch because of Douglas County’s numbers.

The Omaha Public Schools, the largest school district in the state, welcomed high school students back to in-person learning this week under a model similar to what Prep is considering.

OPS students at every grade level now can return to in-person lessons under the district’s Family 3/2 Model. That model calls for students to be divided into two groups, each of which attend school in person part of the week.

During a Monday night school board meeting, OPS Superintendent Cheryl Logan called the model “the responsible thing to do.”

Logan said 26% of high school students opted to continue with remote learning.

Ahead of students’ return to the classroom, Logan said OPS tested staff for COVID-19.

“Having an understanding of the COVID-19 positivity rates inside our schools best positions us to make decisions quickly should the need arise to temporarily close a school or multiple schools or programs or classrooms to prevent widespread virus transmission,” Logan said.  

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