Grant Recipient

January 17, 2024

December 2023 Startup Grant Awarded to Yona Care

Yona Care

Woman Entrepreneur:
Fran Wang

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We’re excited to announce the $10,000 Startup Grant recipient for December 2023. Congratulations to Fran Wang, one of the founders of Yona Care.

Recently, WomensNet Advisory Board member Jama Hernandez sat down with Fran for an exclusive interview. You can listen to their conversation and view the transcript below.

Video Transcript

WomensNet: Hi everyone. Welcome to a conversation with our startup grant winner for December, 2023. Today we have the pleasure of chatting with Fran Wang of Yona Care, who’s our Startup Grant winner.

I’m Marcia Layton Turner. I’m one of several WomensNet Advisory Board members, and I have the great pleasure of chatting with our winners and hearing their stories. So thank you for making time to chat with me today. And I thought maybe we’d just start kind of at the beginning. Could you tell everybody a little bit about your company and where the idea to start it came from?

Fran: For sure. Hi everyone. I’m Fran Wang. I’m a mechanical engineer by trade and Yona Care is a redesign of the speculum. If you don’t know what a speculum is by name, you’ve probably experienced it at some point in your life. It’s a tool that’s used in gynecological and obstetrics procedures. So, if you’ve gone in for a pap smear or whatever else, you’ve experienced the speculum.

If you’re like most of the people we’ve spoken with, it probably wasn’t your favorite experience. And so that’s what we’re working on changing – redesigning that tool. We started out actually thinking about the entire pelvic exam experience as a whole. You know, that whole experience isn’t something that people really love. And it was myself and three other women and we wanted to ask the question of: Why do we put up with it being so horrible when everything else in our life is so well designed and thought through? But this thing that’s so important to our health just doesn’t feel considered at all. It’s something we just kind of put up with, or we talk about it with with our friends. Like, ‘oh my God, I just did this thing. It was awful…’ And so that’s where we started. And now we’re focusing on the speculum, which is the device itself.

WomensNet: Wonderful. Now let’s talk about business planning. Because usually when you’re at the idea phase of your business, you start to think about ‘is this viable and how would I run it?’ So, we’re gonna start with Fran this time. Did you develop a business plan? Did you turn to any specific resources that you found were really helpful in developing a plan?

Fran: Yeah, starting to build up a solid plan right now. I think we’ve always had kind of a conjectural plan, but now we’re really in the road to make a real plan. And in that process, I’ve really found that the most helpful thing has been my peers. So other people who have made businesses of their own or in the process of doing it. I’ve talked to I feel like so many people, and they’ve all been so generous with their time to teach me what they’ve learned and the pitfalls they might’ve experienced, and to help me avoid those pitfalls.

And so I’m really appreciative of just the people around me and the other entrepreneurs out there who’ve kind of led the way.

WomensNet: That makes sense. A lot of companies put together a business plan early on in the process, and then they file it away and never look at it. And you kinda have to wonder why did they do that, if they’re just gonna file it away.

Just for anybody watching, it might be helpful to know that there are small business development centers across the US and you can make an appointment for some free consulting, regarding your business plan, whether you need market research or help putting together financials. It’s free.

What have you done to spread the word about your business? What strategies have you found effective at letting others know about your brands or your companies? You may not necessarily be doing some of the traditional marketing things, but what are you doing to get the word out?

Fran: I think Yona’s been really lucky and fortunate in that when we started out, Yona was really,  in part, a thought piece, for lack of a better word. We really wanted to just put the idea out there that this could be something better. And so we started out as a way for people to get talking about the pelvic exams and about reproductive healthcare in general. And so we really started in a place where people were talking about us. And so, we haven’t done necessarily a concerted effort in marketing. But because we started there, I think a lot of people do know about Yona. And so, we have a really strong foundation and feel really, really fortunate for that.

WomensNet: Awesome. Well, how about any lessons learned? Any lessons learned or stories that you might share with folks who are maybe early in their business creation process? Something that you wish someone had told you early on?

Fran: I think I’m still in an early stage of Yona. And it’s something that I will say that people did tell me, but it really took me experiencing it to internalize it. But just like anything else in the world, your personal energy is a very finite resource. And I think when I started out, I wanted to do this, I wanted to do the other thing… and I thought I had, you know, just the fuel to do it all.

And progressively even this far into the journey, I’m already feeling like, ‘okay, I really have to take the limited resources and energy that I have and put it towards my priorities first and foremost, and get those things done and then take what’s left to apply it to the other things…’ But I can’t treat my energy and time like it’s infinite ’cause then I’ll just get nothing done.

WomensNet: So smart. So, how can members of the WomensNet community show support for your businesses? What can they do to help you?

Fran: Yeah, feel free to visit our website, Yonacare.com, or reach out to us on Instagram. We’re constantly looking to learn from people, kind of like Meg said. I think we really love being the dumbest person in the room. We wanna hear about people’s experiences, we wanna hear about what you need, and we wanna bring those things into our pathway forward. And so if you have a strong opinion about something or if you’re a clinician and you know there’s something that needs to happen or needs to change and you feel so compelled to tell us, please do. We would love to hear it.

Then on top of that, I think something that we always tell everybody out there is, not even directly related to us to Yona, but advocate for yourself. We’re in the space of reproductive health and we want everybody to be able to take care of themselves in the way that best suits them and their needs. And so to help us is really to help yourself. Please, you know, get the exams you need. Please talk to your doctor. Please be curious and ask the questions you need to feel like you’re in control of your own care and to have control of your body. That’s how you can help us.

WomensNet: Excellent. Thank you all so much for taking the time out of your busy night to share your story with the WomensNet community. Congratulations again on being our December startup grant winner.

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Nerd Wallet

“Every month, WomensNet awards three $10,000 Amber Grants to women-owned businesses. At the end of each year, monthly grant winners are eligible to receive one of three $25,000 annual grants.”

Score

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