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Interview with Julien Penders, Co-Founder/COO Bloomlife

What is your background?

I’m a physics engineer by training. I graduated from the University of Liège, and then went to Boston to specialize in bio-medical engineering. Afterwards, I worked for eight years at IMEC, a research and development company in Belgium, where I led a team working on wearables in the health and wellness sector.

What is the concept behind Bloomlife?

The idea behind Bloomlife is to empower moms and future moms to take more control over their health and their pregnancy. We want to enable them to have better and healthier pregnancy experience and, eventually, healthier babies thanks to connected devices and technology. That's the mission. 

What is the problem you want to solve and how?

First, for expectant mothers, their biggest concern is: “Is my baby okay?” We try to answer that question by giving them knowledge about their contractions, or their baby’s heartbeat for example, so that moms can have a better understanding about their pregnancy. We want to give them peace of mind. Then there is the medical side, obstetrics is a field that has seen few innovations in the last decades. Doctors have new information only through prenatal visits and nothing in between. With Bloomlife we want to provide doctors with more reliable and objective data to help them make better healthcare decisions for their patients. As every woman and every pregnancy is unique, we want to help them to provide more personalized care.

What were the main difficulties you encountered?

We’ve had many! In the funding stage, the main problem was to find investors who cared deeply about women’s health and innovations, a sector often seen as a niche market (even though women represent half the global population). So we had to find people who shared the same values and eventually we did. In the development stage, early on we focused on user experience and their needs. That’s why we talked, observed and surveyed women in order to know what they wanted and what problems they were facing. That’s something we still do as we place the mother’s needs at the center of Bloomlife’s focus. We are also in constant dialogue with doctors to better understand how we can help them with the data we receive from the moms.

Why did you come to the Bay Area?

We decided that the US would be our initial market and we came to San Francisco specifically because the investment scene here makes it easier to raise larger amounts than in Europe and also the importance of staying close to your investors in the early stages.

Nonetheless, we stay deeply rooted in Belgium where 2/3 of the company works. Product development, clinical research, and studies are run in Belgium as we believe there is a lot of talent and knowledge to be found there.

What are the next milestones for your company?

Our product was launched less than year ago, so we’re very busy improving the product, listening to the mothers’ input to give them the best experience. Consumer growth in the US is the next step for us. At the same time, we’re working to validate the medical data we gathered as we have discovered possible new markers for preempting pregnancy complications.

Do you have a tip for young/would be entrepreneurs?

Don't think about it too much. Just go for it. You don't know what you don't know.

It's an amazing journey; it's a lot of fun and a lot of work too. It’s like a roller coaster, amazing! So, if you feel deep in your heart that you want to do it, just go for it.