March is more than halfway over, and so is our #WomenMakingHistory Series featuring founders of the NVP portfolio. This week, we proudly introduce you to Crystal Evuleocha, co-founder and CEO of Kiira Health, a virtual women’s health platform, currently being rolled-out nationwide on college campuses for their female-identifying students. Crystal was recently featured by Forbes, as well as named to its 30 Under 30 Healthcare List, and she was profiled in Entrepreneur Magazine. Here is what she had to say:
NVP: Tell us about Kiira and what first interested you about the women’s health space?
CE: The idea for Kiira was first conceived from a personal experience I had in college. Due to lack of access to the right providers, I relied on Dr. Google for answers - as so many young women do. I never got professional medical advice and I self-medicated, and I landed in a surgery that would have otherwise been avoided.
After that initial experience, I spent some time researching women’s health, gender and race equity in healthcare, and what I found was that too few people have easy access to quality care. At that point, I knew that there was a market for Kiira, and Dr. Fraser and I joined forces to create a better way of reaching and treating young women with the goal of improving their health outcomes for the whole of their lives.
NVP: As a Woman of Color, how do you think your experience starting a tech company may have differed from someone else? Is there any message you’d like to share with the VC community, or with aspiring entrepreneurs of color?
CE: Running a tech company comes with many challenges but being a woman in tech comes with its own unique challenges that range from struggling to gain investor trust, and having difficulty finding non-traditional sources of capital while navigating a male-dominated space. As a Woman of Color, these challenges are even more pronounced with less than 1% of VC funds going to Black women. When we first started Kiira Health I would speak to many of my colleagues in the space - which were primarily men - and their experiences tended to be more streamlined than mine (although everyone faced their own challenges).
I feel blessed because on my journey I have been supported by a growing number of VC’s and resources dedicated to Black founders and women. This has given me the opportunity to grow Kiira Health even in uncertain times, and despite the obstacles along the way.
What I’d say to VC’s is this: Spend more time seeking women-led companies and taking a chance on them. I hear many times that VC’s need significant traction, revenue, etc. but I also see many VC’s giving our male counterparts a shot with less scrutiny. The truth about running a tech startup is that although product-market fit, traction and revenue are extremely important, betting on an amazing founder is equally important. Many VC’s are missing out on incredible companies because they have failed to give women of color a chance.
NVP: What’s the most important risk you took and why?
CE: The most important risk I took was quitting my job to start my company. That was risky because I had just moved from Texas to California a year prior for what was my dream job at the time, only to realize in a very short time that I had to leave in order to make a bigger impact in the world. Not a lot of savings in the bank in a very expensive new city but I had to bet on myself, and it has been the most rewarding step I have ever taken.
NVP: How do you keep your team motivated?
CE: I keep my team motivated by always presenting them with opportunities to grow personally and professionally. I also do my best to create a culture for balance between work and play especially now during the pandemic where everyone works remotely and it's easy to be stuck behind your computer for hours without end. I always remind my team that it pays off to clear one's mind, recharge, and get back to work. We have a "Last Mondays" meeting every month where we simply catch up and talk about what's going on personally in our individual lives. This has helped bring the team together and that type of relationship just leads to a healthier working environment.
NVP: When the history books write your story, what would you like it to say?
CE: I would like the history books to say that I was a great daughter, sister, wife, and mother first and that I made an impact on the world as a whole. I will like my memory to be of a woman that changed the lives of millions of women across the world and was a driver for groundbreaking innovation in healthcare - especially for women of color.
Read up on the latest news from Kiira and check out their February launch with College of the Redwoods in California! Follow Crystal on Twitter or LinkedIn, and keep track of Kiiras progress here or here.
If you missed the first few blogs in our Women Making History Series, check out our conversations with Naomi Shah, Jessica Gonzalez, Eden Full Goh. Stay tuned for our final installment featuring Kate Terry of Surround Insurance.