International Women’s Day Interview with Melinda Nicci

To celebrate International Women’s day, we are interviewing five female entrepreneurs within our community to explore their journey as founders.

This interview is with Melinda Nicci, Founder of health and wellbeing startup Baby2Body.

Although very different projects and backgrounds, all these women share one common objective – they aim to improve people’s health and wellbeing through technology.

Stay up to date with the interview series by keeping an eye on our News Page.

Baby2Body - Melinda Nicci

Could you please start by sharing a brief description of your business?

Baby2Body is an award-winning, science based, health & wellbeing coaching app for women during the reproductive years — helping women navigate the physical and psychological changes that come before, during, and after pregnancy.

Our product effectively puts a digital personal trainer, nutritionist, and wellness coach in the palm of a woman’s hand exactly when she needs it most, giving her the personalized guidance she needs based around her stage, goals, and personal preferences.

Although becoming a mother is typically a time of joy, it’s also a time of uncertainty, fear, and anxiety. Baby2Body empowers women by guiding them through each stage of what it means to have a baby — from preconception to postpartum.

The bespoke lifestyle support and guidance, accessible to any woman with a smartphone, allows Baby2Body to address a woman’s concerns and unmet needs to ensure she is informed, empowered and motivated to live well. 

Our goal is to create healthier, happier mothers – and thus healthier children.

What inspired you to create Baby2Body?

I came up with the idea for Baby2Body shortly after I had my first child back in 1994. 

There was a huge gap within the fitness industry when it came to pre- and postnatal needs, there simply wasn’t any credible information or resources that women could access easily, and what I could find was outdated and not based on science. 

I was already a qualified personal trainer and had been working with pre and postnatal women and I clearly saw that there was space for a product that coached and advised women not only across fitness but on nutrition and mental wellness too. 

Therefore, I realised that women needed more and better guidance on optimising their health during this critical reproductive time in their lives. I already had a degree in psychology too so providing information across all three areas seemed a natural opportunity.

Up to that stage I had managed to create a successful boutique fitness company – which was the original Baby2Body – offering personal training and small group classes which led to me launching a fitness DVD, writing a book for DK publishers on pregnancy and motherhood, and becoming a leading expert in women’s fitness and wellness.

However, I wanted to scale Baby2Body but felt I needed to develop my skills and experience further so alongside training clients I did a Masters degree in Sport and Exercise Psychology. I spent several years as a consultant at Philips in Amsterdam directing consumer healthcare innovation.

By then I had the domain expertise and insight into the tech world needed to realize Baby2Body as a scalable, global digital health service for women, which I launched in 2015. 

We’ve since grown this platform into a complete wellness solution that not only focuses on physical fitness, but also on mental wellbeing and nutritional health. We’re now present in over 125 countries around the world with over 1.5 million users.

What has been your proudest moment or best success as a founder?

I think it would have to be achieving the milestone of 1 million women on the platform.

We’ve always tried to celebrate smaller milestones but when you are so busy it’s easier to let them pass you by.

However, the million women mark for me was a real stop and take stock moment where myself and the team were able to reflect on how far we’d come.

Where would you like to see your product in 5 years’ time?

I guess it’s got to be the next big milestone, which is one billion women on the platform! I’d like to be able to put our app in the hands of every women in the world that has a smart phone – that’s the goal.

What do you think the sector you are trying to support and the investment community can do to help women more?

I think I would ask that people have a little more patience with small businesses. 

We find that most people expect a lot for free. It would be good if the community, women or users would respect the fact that we are small company and we offer as much as we can for free but at the end of the day it costs a lot of money to bring world class expert information to you on your phone daily.

As a business we don’t share anyone’s data and we don’t sell an user anything except our product and how it can help each individual.

Respecting the fact that small businesses, particularly in startup phase, are working as hard as possible would be nice.

If you could go back to any point in your entrepreneurial journey, what is the one thing you would tell yourself to do again and one thing that you would tweak?

I’d always remind myself to listen to my gut; its always been my navigator and I trust it. You should never underestimate the power of instinct and if something feels right go with it and if not then don’t.

I wish we’d brought the app out sooner, we waited a while as someone told us not to bring an app out but looking back now I’d definitely change that decision.

Lastly, be mindful of who you get to invest. At the time when you’re fundraising you need money in the business and its very easy to jump at the first people that come along but you’ve got to make sure they are right for you and the business.

What advice do you have for other women looking to create their own start-up?

The entrepreneur journey is consistently tough and you’ve got to make sure you can do it.

You will be pushed to the limits in every way possible so if you have to think about it too much then it might not be for you.

Further resources

Baby2Body were previously featured in our review of apps to help women stay active throughout Covid-19 and were also announced as UK finalists for the Le Tremplin Invest at Global Sports Week in 2021.
 
This is the 2nd interview in a series of five celebrating International Women’s Day. Read more on episode one with Jana Dowling or further more by visiting our news section.
 
Sport Tech Hub is a UK based innovation initiative powered by London Sport that supports sport startups and fitness startups that tackle physical inactivity.
 
For more on Baby2Body and other products in our community, please visit here
 
If you would like to connect with any of the products in our community, please reach out to the Sport Tech Hub team here.

Holly Smith

Project Support Intern
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