Jasmine Tagesson and Karolina Lofqvist, founders of Hormona
Jasmine Tagesson and Karolina Lofqvist, founders of Hormona

Karolina Löfqvist is a former Management Consultant, who became a health tech entrepreneur after suffering from her own health issues.

She is passionate about women’s health and making a real difference using data and innovative solutions and her goal is to reshape the future of women’s health and contribute to advances that means better health for all women. She is currently the CEO of Hormona, a digitalised hormonal health company powered by AI and at home testing which she founded in 2020 together with her co-founder Jasmine Tagesson.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I am originally from Sweden but have spent the last 10 years in London. I grew up in an entrepreneurial family and have always been very interested in technology’s and started my first company aged 18 and since then entrepreneurship and running businesses has always been part of my life. I have a business and finance degree and spent most of my twenties working as an investment manager and management consultant alongside my first startup but I have always been motivated by solving big problems and making a change. Which is how I ended up starting Hormona, a hormonal health solution empowering women to take control of their hormones, where I am currently CEO.

How did you get into this industry?

Hormona is actually the result of my own health challenges. A few years back when I used to work for an investment fund I suddenly started experiencing all these symptoms such as hair loss, brain fog and weight gain alongside other symptoms. I knew instinctively that something was wrong but when I went and sought help from my doctor, I was told the symptoms was probably a result of me either working too much or being depressed and neither reasons sounded right to me. I kept nagging the healthcare system and for five years I was bounced between doctors until eventually I had done enough research myself that I managed to find a specialist in Brussels that diagnosed me with a thyroid disorder and hormonal imbalance. It was this experience that made me realise what a massive lack of information and education there is around hormonal health and my entrepreneurial brain started to think about ways to fix it. What I learned during my own hormone health journey was that a one off blood test is simply not enough to give a true picture of your individual hormone situation since your hormones fluctuate so frequently. In order to really understand what is going on you need to test your hormones regularly and on specific days in your cycle and I couldn’t find a convenient way of doing that. With that realisation I embarked on a mission to create a better solution for women suffering from hormone related issues and teamed up with experts in endocrinology, nutrition and bioengineering and here we are. Just over a year later our at home hormone test has been prototyped and our Hormona app is in beta testing soon ready to be launch and hopefully we can stop more women going through the same long and painful journey as me.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I never really sat down and mapped out my career on a piece of paper but growing up in an entrepreneurial family I always knew that running my own business was where I was going to end up. I’ve had various start-ups over the years both alongside school and eventually as a side hustle to work before taking the leap and go fully into my own business. I think the experience I got from working both as investment manager and as a management consultant has helped me in my role at Hormona and ultimately all of my experience and career choices has served as stepping stones for where I’ve ended up today and with what knowledge and skillset.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

There are many challenges that I’ve faced throughout my career but I think I’ve actually faced the most challenges when starting my own companies. Especially with Hormona as I’m not a doctor or bioengineer which means I’ve had to learn so much in order to become an expert in this field. In order to do so I’ve had to recruit and surround myself with professionals from the industry to make it work. Breaking into a new industry or career is never easy but as long as you have a willingness to learn and develop and the willpower to push through then anything is possible and you can overcome any challenges.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Since the tech industry is quite male oriented raising our pre-seed round for Hormona is definitely one of my career highlights to date. Dealing almost exclusively with men on a topic that is very much associated with women is definitely challenging. Convincing them that women actually deserves and need a solution that’s beyond period tracking or fertility has been a challenge and the lack of general knowledge can be really frustrating when you are trying to solve a problem that affect almost all women! It was a hard work but we got there in the end and I couldn’t be more proud of our female only team for reaching this milestone and not giving up.

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What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

That I never take no for an answer and simply never give up. There is always a solution you just need to find it and although I believe it’s still tougher for women to start their own company I think unfortunately we just have to work harder. I’ve learned to have thick skin and not take things personally which I’m sure has helped me many times in my career. My one tip would be to stay positive and believe in yourself and your vision and you will get there.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

First I would say to always stay curious and never stop learning. As tech is developing and changing all the time, you need to stay on top of your knowledge. Also if you haven’t already got it, try to develop a problem-solving mindset, where you see problems and challenges as opportunities to grow.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

Unfortunately I do believe there are still some barriers for women simply entering the tech space let alone succeed but I think we’re all working towards, if not removing them completely, then at least lowering those barriers. For me, I’ve always found that what I missed the most growing up was female role models and a community to learn from up since I was very interested in technology from a young age. Instead I had to convince my dad to let me join him at work the days his IT consultants were around so I could learn from them. So for me one of the ways to get more women in to tech is by shining light on successful women in this space, showing that we can do this. Once there is a larger group of women in this space then there will naturally also be more success for women in tech, to me that’s a simple equation. And I do believe that there has never been a better time for women to work in tech, and hopefully generations to come will have a whole host of amazing female role models in this space making it even easier to break down barriers.

What do you think companies can do to support to progress the careers of women working in technology?

I think there are a lot of things companies can do to support and further the careers of women working in technology and a lot of that will come down to benefits and flexibility. Women face a whole heap of challenges and life situations that are unique to women such as childbirth or menopause but there is very little understanding and support when you are in those stages from employers. In addition to that, and relevant to what we are doing at Hormona, women have, on a cyclical basis, days when they will be more or less energetic and productive but that is never taken into consideration. Flexibility around work hours and conditions as well as support during times when our bodies need rest and recovery could massively help progress women’s career in tech. In addition we also need to get more women in the door, we need to hire and recruit women in order for more women to be able to successfully advance in their careers.

There are currently only 17 per cent of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

Sadly there is no magic wand, but I do believe that by showing young girls that there is a career for them in tech through role models, work experience and internships we can get more women into the space. We then need to actively hire and support women throughout their careers. If we all strive towards raising that 17% and keep that idea of encouraging women in tech at forefront of our mind I’m sure we can move that number up quickly.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

I’m trying to stay up to date with what’s going on in the industry by trying to attend as many events as possible. We went to both Websummit and Slush this autumn which was great experiences, you got to meet so many inspiring people in the same industry and came away with a great positive energy.

In addition to that there is so many great online site’s focusing on Femtech/Tech/Investment such as Techcrunch, Femtech Insider, Gizmodo & TNW which are great places to stay on top of what’s going on in our industry.

I also think podcasts are great way of absorbing information and something that’s easy to listen to when you running between meetings. My favourite podcasts right now are How I built this with Guy Raz & Invest like the best with Patrick O’Shaughnessy,

And lastly, if you work in tech and has a heavy product focus, I recommend everyone to read the Hacking growth by Sean Ellis & Hooked by Nir Eyal.