“I’ve a saying about entrepreneurship – being an entrepreneur and being self-employed is like being a gladiator in a ring with a skipping rope…everyone else has swords and shields,” Mindful IVF’s CEO Gordon Mullins says.
Reflecting on winning the ‘Most Potential’ award at February’s Founder Weekend, he says:
“We had no electricity on the Friday because down in Kenmare, we had lost electricity all day. So, I had two candles to the side and I had a powerbank with my laptop.
“It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done, I have to admit.”
Mindful IVF took home the prize thanks to an impressive three-minute pitch by Gordon that captured the judging panel’s attention, but the far-from-ideal circumstances leading into the weekend didn’t deter Gordon in the slightest.
What started out as an idea for an IVF tracking app ultimately transformed into the Mindful IVF app that many users know and love today. As their website explains, Mindful IVF provides an easy and user-friendly way to ‘leverage the science of meditation to improve fertility mental fitness, and help people achieve a healthy, happy IVF’. However, it took a couple of years before Gordon knew what the finalized idea and actual end-product were ultimately going to look and feel like.
Currently, the Mindful IVF app has 4,500 monthly active users and approximately 1,000 users using the app on a daily basis. Great figures for a start-up, and the positive signs are continuing as they are also experiencing a healthy number of users signing up to use the app every day. However, it wasn’t always plain sailing.
For Gordon, very early on he realized that one of the most important aspects to help the product take off was to factor in that human element. The algorithms proved difficult to get a handle on, and the last thing Gordon wanted was to create a fertility tracking app that would provide misinformation and confuse users.
“So, one night, I said to the guys – we’re cutting this 90 percent, and we’re just going to do the meditation side of things. Everyone got really upset and were like ‘no, we spent 18 months doing this’. So, we cut it and within like three days we had taken it from what we had to the meditation side of things. We literally launched a couple of days later. Almost immediately we got traction.
“I was like, ‘I can’t believe we’re getting traction on this’. Within the first month, we had 200 users, within the second, third, and fourth month, we were up to 500 users.”
Since then, it has been a constant push to increase the number of users, and Gordon has continually deployed new ways to get traction and drive the involvement of new users. Equally important in Mindful IVF’s journey has been Gordon’s desire to bring money in and understand the psychology of why people do – and don’t – spend money.
Gordon can see the potential that Mindful IVF has, and he touches on the fact that the start-up has developed entirely through organic growth, – having never spent a penny on advertising at all. He explains one factor that has driven the company’s growth has been what he terms “superfans”.
“If you manage to keep people on your app for 21 days, you can create a superfan,” Gordon says.
“For me, a superfan is where you work with them on things that don’t scale – because we’re all focused on ‘scale, scale, scale’, but if you get one superfan, they can do an amazing job of promoting you in forums very well,” he explains.
He provides the example of providing quick and straightforward technical support through email and using those wins as ways to nudge customers towards promoting your brand, idea, or product. Gordon can already see the rewards of it through user engagement.
“I would average one email a week from someone that says that I am their second husband in bed at nighttime! The thing about meditation is that all we’re trying to do is provide people with 10 minutes of a break. They’re not going to become zen-balanced buddhists or monks up the side of a mountain; this is 10 minutes to pause, to breathe and to just say ‘this feels great’.”
Gordon has certainly put a great deal of work into his start-up, and there has been a lot of analysis and effort to understand users’ behaviour, but Gordon is aware that one of the best strategies for Mindful IVF is – “don’t try to convert the unconvertible”. It seems to be working, too, because the operation has already experienced a great deal of growth, and things are starting to take off for them now, so what does the future hold for the app, and what milestones does Gordon as CEO have in his sights?
Gordon is aiming to have approximately 2,500 subscribers by December, which would put the company in a great position to apply for capital funding. He holds the likes of Hertility – founded by a number of Cork ladies – and Exceed as a standout example of why femtech/health tech has so much potential to deliver huge numbers – and MindfulIVF could be the next big success story in this space.
“There’s a huge future in this space,” Gordon says.
By Trevor Murray