Before Victoria Engelhardt founded Keleya together with Sarah Müggenburg in 2017, she gained experiences at the startup incubator Rocket Internet and Boston Consulting Group. The challenges of a good friend’s pregnancy gave Victoria the idea for a pregnancy app. Keleya was born.
You have created Keleya, an app which helps pregnant women. With more than 100,000 downloads, it has become the most widely used pregnancy app in Germany. Tell us about your vision. How do you make the world a better place for the future?
When a good friend of mine got pregnant, I learned for the first time how complicated the whole process can be. How do I choose the right
care provider? What type of exercise is safe? What can I eat? And then I thought to myself: Why isn’t there a personalized digital product to help with workouts, nutrition plans, and digital childbirth classes? We quickly realized that the topic is much bigger than we thought. There are so many opportunities to facilitate the experience of being pregnant.
We want to build an entire ecosystem around pregnancy, a platform that connects women with all relevant parties: midwives, gynecologists, birthing centers, but also health insurance companies. As a product, Keleya stands at the intersection of lifestyle and medicine.
It sounds like pregnant women will no longer have to leave the house in the future. With the Keleya solution Ammely it's even possible to order a midwife online. Is it conceivable for you that one day childbirth preparation could, for example, be done by AI and that human interaction may become obsolete?
No! But I’m also very spiritually inclined. I’m not a fan of doing something simply because it’s technically possible. The birth process is precisely not just pure mechanics, it has a lot to do with hormones, with love. Just to give you an example: If you have a caesarean section and do not immediately place the newborn in skin-to-skin contact with the mother, there is a significantly lower chance that the mother can breastfeed. That’s simply because less of the bonding hormone oxytocin is released.
Ok, but why do we need this all-encompassing digital support at all? Since time immemorial we have been giving birth to our children without technical aids...
...That’s right, but let’s think back 50 years.
When women got pregnant, they mostly lived with their families. While a lot of knowledge has been passed on through generations, it’s a very different kind of social network today. Women are left alone more often and are more concerned about their health than before. We now live in a society in which the connection between people and their own bodies is no longer as strong.
What will the birth process of the future look like? You say that human care is irreplaceable, but at the same time Keleya is helping to digitize these processes.
In five to ten years, Keleya will combine the data you individually enter even more efficiently. You will be able to preventively recognize many things, the risk of premature birth or pre-eclampsia, for example, by linking data points that you enter in the app with examination results from your doctor or midwife. And users will be able to reach different contacts with the push of a button. The birth process itself, however, will remain an interpersonal matter. For example, if you have heart surgery to prevent heart failure or some other condition, and a computer or robot does it—great. It will probably make fewer mistakes. As far as I am concerned, you can also digitize and "robotize" pregnancy care, that is diagnostics—be it ultrasound, drawing blood, or any of these procedures. But when it comes to the process of childbirth, you definitely cannot!