The Healthtech VC #012: Building a marketplace for pregnant women and midwives in Germany with Victoria Engelhardt

Listen to the full episode of The Healthtech VC podcast on Apple Podcasts here and on Spotify here.  

Victoria Engelhardt is founder of Keleya, an app that supports pregnant women in their journey to being new parents. Keleya is the latest addition to the Crista Galli Ventures digital health portfolio. Victoria started her career in Berlin at Rocket Internet, a company builder. She spent a couple of years as a management consultant at the Boston Consulting Group prior to founding Keleya after recognising a gap in the German maternity market.

Building a new marketplace

The Keleya app brings pregnant women online, providing tips on health, nutrition, exercise and a birth preparation plan. The app has been downloaded over 200,000 times and Victoria
has been the Apple face of Germany 2020, recently being interviewed by Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple. The app runs on a Freemium model with some content available for free and paid subscriptions for deeper layers of content. Now employing 18 people based in Germany, Keleya is building a German maternity ecosystem by not only bringing pregnant women
online but also their midwives online.

Having brought pregnant women online with Keleya app, they also launched Ammely, their app to bring midwives online and allow them to book tele-midwife sessions with clients. In Germany, once pregnant, you can do your check-ups with a gynaecologist or with a midwife. Ammely helps pregnant women to find a midwife. Ammely was launched after long discussions with Germany’s midwife association, breaking down barriers and changing their attitudes around the use and uptake of technology.

Working with midwives and health insurers

Keleya are working simultaneously with midwife unions and health insurance companies. They are keen to work with clinical champion midwives who routinely deliver babies. A
selection of these midwives are invited to do user testing of the Ammely product on a regular basis.

The pandemic has driven technological change through healthcare across the world. Health insurers in Germany are keen to work with digital health companies. Prior to the pandemic, Keleya was working business-to-business (B2B) with two health insurance companies, now a year into the pandemic, two has become nineteen. The pandemic has been especially difficult for pregnant women, often banned from taking a partner or friend to midwife appointments and even to birth. Thus, pregnant women have relied more on Keleya for online support. Ammely recognised the difficulties that midwives had in the pandemic; many were self-isolating or quarantining with Covid19 and unable to attend face-to-face appointments. Ammely introduced an acute search function with new functionality to allow a pregnant woman to match up with a midwife anywhere across Germany for a tele-midwife consultation within 24 hours.

German Digital Health

Germany’s new DIGA digital health policy has introduced legislation for the prescribing of digital therapeutics. This is a great move forward for healthcare and for digital health startups. Keleya cannot be included as a digital therapeutic as pregnancy is not a sickness but a normal physiological state. Nevertheless, Germany is prioritising digital health at a
policy level and this is changing the healthcare landscape. This includes key players including large health insurance companies now recognising the need to prioritise and allocate budgets for digital health for the future of healthcare.

Publicising an app

When running a mobile app, Victoria stresses the importance of having good current relationships with Apple and Google. This involves having many touch points with them on an ongoing basis. This attitude helped Keleya to be on Apple’s radar for various media opportunities. Victoria discusses Apple’s accelerator programme for startups developing apps and how Apple is keen on the digital health space. She talks about how she ended up being interviewed by Tim Cook (Apple CEO) and the level of exposure this brought.

Keleya have big ambitions to become the largest tele-midwife platform in the world. The company plan to extend the app offering and integrate courses for the post-birth journey, thereby moving into the market for new parents.

Learn more about Keleya here:

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