Portrait

From Zurich to San Francisco and back: A Start-up Journey

After the founding the start-up «Ava» in 2015, the team moved from Zurich to San Francisco. Now Ava is back in Switzerland.

In mid-January, the founders of the medtech start-up «Ava» won the «Best of Baby Tech Award» in the pregnancy and fertility solutions category in Las Vegas. It was the second time that this award has been given.

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Lea von Bidder, credits: Ava

Ava produces a bracelet that assists women who are trying to get pregnant. With its supporting iOS app, the bracelet tells the wearer when the five fertile days of their cycle occur. Factors like sleep and stress are also taken into account by measuring the pulse, breathing, sleep quality, movements, skin temperature and heart rate.

Shortly after the founding the start-up in 2015, the team moved from Zurich to San Francisco to certify and sell the bracelet in the American market. Now Ava is back in Switzerland. We talked to Swiss co-founder, Lea von Bidder, 26.

Tell me about the Award-winning «Ava» bracelet.
Ava is a wearable cycle tracker. It continuously monitors 9 different physiological parameters while you sleep at night. You put the Ava bracelet on before going to bed. In the morning you sync it with your phone and get all data you need about your fertility and menstrual cycle.

How can you be sure that Ava always works?
We have completed a year-long clinical trial at the University Hospital of Zurich that showed an effectiveness rate of 89% at detecting the 5.3 fertile days in a woman’s cycle. Conducted by Prof. Dr. Brigette Leeners, who is a world-renowned expert on the mathematical modeling of menstrual cycles, this research has been presented at several renowned OB-GYN conferences in Europe and the US, and will be published in a peer-reviewed journal later this year.

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You wear Ava while you sleep at night, credits: Cycle Hailey

Is it true, that Ava doesn’t work well for people who are in treatment for fertility issues or who are already having other problems?
Ava is an easy, precise method for women to track their cycle, because it detects more fertile days than any other method. It helps couples maximize their chances of getting pregnant and gives them all the information they need. It also creates a good data set that doctors can use for early diagnosis. If there are other medical reasons why a couple can’t conceive, Ava might not be useful.

«Sales have exceeded all our expectations»
Lea von Bidder, co-founder Ava

Since the launch, how many bracelets have you sold?
Ava bracelets sold out before even launching it in the US, and we have seen the same now in Europe. Sales have exceeded all our expectations.

What are you expecting from the European market?
It’s too early to make any predictions.

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Via a app, the barcelet tells when you can get pregnant, credits: Ava

You were working and studying in many different countries like Germany, Switzerland, India, France, China, USA und Canada. Where are you living at the moment?
I currently live and work in San Francisco.

Where is the best place to build up a start-up?
Tough question. It really depends on your industry. However, don’t underestimate how valuable an existing network in your hometown is.

What are the typical attributes of the Swiss start-up scene?
Most Swiss startups are highly innovative and they often work closely with the local technical universities. Science is usually at their core, not lifestyle or marketing. And they tend to work on really hard problems that might take a while to solve.

«Switzerland has a long way to go to become a first choice startup hub»
Lea von Bidder, co-founder Ava

Would you build up your next start-up in Switzerland?
I might. Switzerland has a long way to go to become a first choice startup hub, but it’s also not a bad place to start. The access to ETH and EPFL is really valuable. There are various governmental support programs and early financing options to be had here. The question really depends on what problem you are trying to solve.

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