Parents-to-be are baffled by all kinds of doubts, fears and concerns. Is the pregnancy normal? What if breastfeeding doesn’t work out? How much is the baby supposed to sleep?
In Finland, families receive plenty of advice and support from their local maternity clinic and other health care professionals. Sini Havukainen used to be one of the first people to meet the newborns: for years, she worked as a midwife at a clinic in Finland.
“I absolutely loved every day of that job,” she says.
However, she took a break from the labour rooms when her husband’s job made the family move to Silicon Valley for a couple of years. There, surrounded by all things high-tech and digital, she started to wonder if technology could spread the Finnish maternity knowledge to help mums internationally.
“I wanted to find a way to let the whole world enjoy the knowhow that’s available for everyone in Finland,” Havukainen explains.
When her family moved back to Finland, she had her mind set to becoming an entrepreneur. Applicado was founded in 2015.
Growing like a baby
Since the company’s first steps, the growth rate has been as speedy as – well, like that of a newborn baby. Applicado’s offspring is an app known as Layette, a word referring to baby gear such as clothes and accessories.
In 2016, the company was chosen as the winner of the Digital Health category in the growth company competition Kasvu Open. That brought a huge boost with mentoring, funding, contacts and workspace.
Now, Applicado is run by four owners and two employees, one of whom takes care of coding and the other working in sales. The first version of the app has been launched in Finland, but the most tempting markets lie outside of the country’s borders.
“We’re an international company by default,” CTO Sampo Pihl points out. “What we provide is readily available in Finland anyway, so our goal is to take it further.”
The information is abundant indeed. At the moment, the app comprises hundreds of pages of text, articles and tips from the very first days of pregnancy all the way through to when the child is a toddler.
Whenever authorities change their recommendations, Layette is updated as well.
“If a new mother goes online in search of answers, she’ll just end up confused,” Havukainen tells. “With Layette, she can trust that the information is up-to-date, unbiased and impartial and comes from experts in a non-judgmental tone, unlike personal experiences and opinions people post on the Internet.”
Partnerships where everybody wins
The next big leap is to find investors and partners. Layette is free for families, so the revenue must be collected from elsewhere.
Existing partners include, for example, a pharmaceutical company. Other options are plentiful, such as insurance firms and baby product manufacturers. The app could remind the parents-to-be when the deadline for buying an insurance for their unborn child approaches.
“I’ve got two kids and I forgot to buy the insurance twice,” Pihl says laughingly. “It would’ve been great to receive a reminder from somewhere!”
Pihl and Havukainen emphasise that all partnerships need to be a win-win, so that the families benefit from it too. Hence customisation is necessary: if the user is looking for information about ear infections, Layette can tell them which products can be of help, not advertise diapers.
The grand plan is, eventually, to have maternity clinics use Layette – and even make it their selling point in countries where private healthcare is the norm, such as Havukainen’s former home base the US.
As human bodies function in the same way no matter the geography, future markets are dictated by where partners are found. Applicado wants to see Layette become a standard in the field.
“One day we hope to see clinics advertise themselves with ‘the best maternity knowledge in the world’ – and us providing it,” Havukainen tells.