Maria Oliveira and Lara Kufoof (MSc International Health Management 2017)

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Written by Maria Oliveira and Lara Kufoof (MSc International Health Management 2017), founders of Myovaplan.

What inspired us

We met during our year at the Business School and since then, we have worked together to empower women with fertility knowledge.  Myovaplan was created to face the need to improve knowledge and awareness about fertility among young women.

I worked in the fertility field before studying at Imperial. During those years I noticed that a lot of women had questions about fertility preservation. The number of women seeking to freeze their eggs is increasing by about 10% a year. The problem is that some women are already 40+, which is not the optimal age due to the egg quality and quantity - ideally women should do it in their late 20s/early 30s. So I felt that I wanted to do something about it.” Maria Oliveira, co-founder

“When I met Maria, and I heard about her concerns, as a career-driven and married woman with no children at that time, I identified with the problem. I also felt that I wanted to contribute to female empowerment and gender equality.” Lara Kufoof, co-founder

Our Business

Society is hugely competitive and women now focus more on their careers. Additionally, more young women are being diagnosed with cancer with the need of chemotherapy before they have children. Fertility is not reversible! Egg quality and quantity drop dramatically from the age of 35. Our mission is to help all women create their future fertility plan so they can preserve their chances of conceiving when they are ready for it, instead of being left with limited choices.  

Myovaplan is an online future fertility educative platform where women can get all the information about female reproductive system and fertility preservation options. We also offer fertility coaching sessions. And because a lot of women find it difficult to choose which treatments and where to go, we can also link women with highly reputable experts in fertility preservation – from nutrition, wellbeing to clinical egg freezing treatment.

We strongly believe that it’s a woman’s right to have an unlimited access to this information earlier, easily, and efficiently. We have been developing Myovaplan under the vision that ‘no women should experience fertility barriers later in life’.

Our challenges

Ironically, the biggest challenge faced is related to engagement with women. Although we are providing a solution for them, the majority are too young to think about what they would do in the future. What we know from the experience of the older generations is that women say ‘I wish I had frozen my eggs when I was 30!’ We aim to avoid this regret and disappointment later in life.

Another challenge has been related to the fact that we are female entrepreneurs. Somehow, we feel that our role and business idea are not understood among the male entrepreneurial world. There are fewer women available to give us feedback and to support this need. Additionally, it is very challenging to balance family needs and business meetings, trips, and timelines.

Highs & lows

We could be talking about our highs endlessly, because in creating this startup, we have come out of our comfort zones and been exposed to different environments, people and situations. Therefore, our learning curve is never ending!

During the last few months, while we have been working on Myovaplan, we have been playing different roles before we are able to form a bigger team. This has contributed to becoming (even) better at multi-tasking. Likewise, we have been developing our networking skills and improving our negotiating abilities.

But things don’t always go smoothly and we were ready for set backs. The journey so far has been filled with some lower moments too. For us, the most difficult ones have been those when you get ‘no’ as the answer to something you have worked so hard on. But we learn from it, we make the changes from the suggestions and we go out there again until it becomes a ‘yes’!

Our advice

A lot of people have given us wonderful sayings, quotations and advice. They all have been important to keep us moving forward, and that is why our advice is to remain resilient and eager. If you believe in your idea, and if you know that it is solving a real problem and doing something to modify/help the life of others, then keep persevering. Get out of your comfort zone to empower the ones who need you, and the ones who need your ideas.

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