Five questions to Hamburg's Vulvani start-up
The Hamburg-based Vulvani start-up offers interactive online courses, an online magazine and social media to close gaps in knowledge of the female body in a simple and playful manner. Britta Wiebe and Jamin Mahmood launched the digital education platform about menstruation, healthy menstrual cycles and sexuality at the University of Hamburg last year.
Hamburg News: How did your business idea come about?
Vulvani: Britta spent a lot of time abroad in her twenties and was annoyed that her preferred tampon brand was not available locally. A friend then told her about Free Bleeding, i.e., menstruating without products, which sparked a strong interest in her own body and ultimately making a change. Jamin's strengths lie in driving ideas and visions forward and as an experienced founder, he encouraged Britta to turn her passion into a business last year. We did a lot of research on possible business models and quickly realised that education is central to Vulvani.
Where did you found your company? Who backed and funded you?
Vulvani: We officially founded our company in Hamburg this year. Actually, the coronavirus-pandemic has had a positive impact insofar as remote working is now an acceptable possibility. We are part of the Venture Villa Accelerator in Hanover. We are also in the Hamburg Startups Club and recently docked with Hamburg Innovation's beyourpilot. We are very pleased with the many numerous funding pillars. That is great for Vulvani's success and shows that many different people and institutions share the vision behind our company.
Hamburg News: What were the biggest obstacles to founding your company?
Vulvani: There were few hurdles in terms of the process. Setting up a business is pretty straightforward and even on a small budget. On a personal level, finding the optimal work-life balance was a challenge. Especially at the beginning, there were more ideas than financially possible and we lacked time as well. We had to weigh things up, prioritise and find our way.
Hamburg News: here do you see yourselves in five years?
Vulvani: Five years from now, Vulvani will be the global hub for knowledge and education about the female body. We will be a central hub where many different voices can be heard and seen and people can share their knowledge. Everyone has the right to get to know their own body intensely. Social taboos or financial hurdles should not prevent that. Our goal is to make tabooed subjects normal in an entertaining, educational manner to empower people and create inclusive societies.
Hamburg News: Do you have any important tips for founders?
Vulvani: Good things take time. Thus, patience and belief in yourself and your vision are essential for founders. Also ask yourself "why?". Why do you do what you do? To change the world? To earn a lot of money? Whatever it is, the focus thereon is the recipe for success. Flexibility is another important quality especially in the turbulent start-up world. External and internal factors can change swiftly. You must be able to adapt quickly and toss outdated ideas or objectives overboard ruthlessly when they no longer work.
Charles Sinn, Co-ordinator of Content Management at Hamburg Innovation, conducted the interview in co-operation with Hamburg News.