Couple launches web app to help track fertility
If the feedback from mommy blogs like Baby Kerf and Offbeat Mama is any indication, women have been waiting a long time for a more aesthetically pleasing charting site for the fertility awareness method. Ova Ova, launched in February by Amanda Kohler (pictured), 24, and her husband Kevin, 29, has stepped into the gap left by an ages-old birth control method in need of a technology update.
For $36 a year, a woman can track her fertility on a site that's easy to interact with and easy on the eyes. Omaha branding agency GoodTwin Design is responsible for Ova Ova's look. Instead of the traditional line graph, users see their fertility charted in columns of blue and green (below), a bulls-eye that pinpoints ovulation, data entry for exercise and nutrition, and a tasteful heart emblem to mark intercourse.
The few charting tools that have managed to jump onto the internet, including Ova Ova’s main competitor Fertility Friend, still cling to the spreadsheet look popular in the '90s. "Paper charting doesn't fit into our lifestyles anymore," Kohler said. "It's time to mix an old method with new technology."
While Kohler has always wanted to run her own business, a charting site for fertility awareness wasn’t on the radar until a few years ago when she found herself in the middle of one of those awkward conversations on a plane. "I was sitting next to this big cattle rancher," Kohler explained, "and I'm very passionate about food. Local sources, grass-fed beef, you know. And this guy didn't use organic anything."
But then came his uncomfortable question: "Do you take birth control?"
The rancher suggested she consider the fact that taking the pill meant ingesting synthetic hormones daily on a much more direct scale than eating commercially raised beef. "I'd never given the fertility awareness method much thought before that," Kohler admitted. "You think, that’s something people do for religious reasons, or it's too inaccurate, or it's outdated." But that conversation led her to research the method and discover that women use fertility awareness as much for health reasons as faith-based. It's also 98 percent effective as birth control. For comparison, the pill is 99 percent.
After the Kohlers realized what they wanted Ova Ova to be, the next step was to raise capital. They downsized from their condo, Kohler dropped to part-time as a manager of mechanical engineering at Union Pacific, and the couple put money towards the site's design and development.* Lead developer Jerod Santo from RSDi translated Kohler's data from the rules of the method to create the accessible charts.
Taking their cue from the Lean Startup, the Kohlers put out their minimally viable product first. "In our case, this is the charting," Kohler said. "We could have spent an unlimited amount of money getting everything in place before we made anything public, but if no one likes the core of what we do, the charts, we'd have wasted our time."
Plus, if they had postponed the launch in order to set in place all the extras they want for Ova Ova (like a medical advisory board and an online forum), they would have missed out on valuable client feedback. "What our clients want next isn't a forum. They want a mobile app," said Kohler. "You're using this awesome new chart, so you want it even more convenient." Once Ova Ova hits $1,000 in sales, they'll start building the app.
Credits: Screenshot of Ova Ova from ovaova.com. Photo of Amanda and Kevin Kohler courtesy of Ova Ova.
*Update 12:25 a.m. – The dollar amount put towards the site's design and development was removed.