The category of femtech has been growing rapidly over the last few years. Now expanding well beyond reproductive health, the category is estimated to become a $50 billion dollar industry by 2025. In fact, in the past 12 months, femtech brands have received just short of $800 million in funding. One of those brands is Clementine, a hypnotherapy app for women. Designed for busy women who want to find their inner calm, Clementine provides content to help reduce anxiety, ditch self-doubt and get a great night’s sleep. We sat down with founder Kim Palmer to find out more about the app named by The Guardian as one of the “seven apps every woman should own.” We spoke to Kim about:
- The inspiration for Clementine
- Why Clementine uses a swear words in the mantras and meditations
- What’s driving the growth of femtech products
- What advice she has for entrepreneurs who are considering fundraising
What was the inspiration for Clementine?
The inspiration for Clementine is my own lived experience. Six years ago, I had a massive emotional breakdown. I put so much pressure on myself to look the best, have the best job and be the best wife. I was a people pleaser and a workaholic. I didn’t know all this at the time, but it’s easy to look back now and see it clearly.
It all came to an ugly head when I was pregnant with my first son. Rather than take the time to really look after myself, I became even more obsessed with achieving things. I made a conscious decision that I would ignore being pregnant and I focused all my energy on getting a promotion before going on maternity leave. I didn’t look after myself. I felt stressed all the time and I struggled with low mood. I took on two jobs to get a promotion and I ended up in the hospital with suspected appendicitis. As it turns out, it was not appendicitis. I was just extremely stressed and six months pregnant.
A few days later at work, I was in a meeting and it all caught up with me. I started to present something, and it was like I was having an out of body experience. I literally couldn’t breathe. My colleague knew something was wrong and pulled me out of the meeting. That experience was so traumatic at the time because I put so much of my sense of self-worth into being this super person at work. I experienced a trauma because I became very embarrassed. I unraveled. I stopped talking in meetings and eventually I stopped going to meetings altogether.
I developed social anxiety and suffered panic attacks daily, even when I was on maternity leave. Then, I was made redundant from my job. When I started interviewing for a new job, I started having panic attacks in the interviews. I knew I needed to do something.
I desperately wanted to get on with meditation but it wasn’t for me. I tried therapy but it didn’t help.
A friend recommended I try hypnotherapy and after my first session, I felt like a huge burden had been immediately lifted from my body. I was finally able to deal with my trauma. I started to tell people about my journey and so many women started coming to me and saying they felt the same way. Just like me, they felt like there wasn’t anything out there that spoke to them. I just thought, why isn’t everyone trying hypnotherapy? It seemed like a missed opportunity. So that’s why I went off on a journey to create Clementine.
You focus exclusively on women. Why is that?
We unashamedly design with women in mind. There are already so many apps that are made for everyone. I wanted something specifically designed for women. You need the nuances, the words, the design – this all helps make the app accessible for women. But we’re open to anyone using the app. 10% of people who use it are men. It’s a bit like fashion. We’re open to anyone, but we design for women.
You use a lot of swear words in your mantras and push notifications. This is quite different from other types of mindfulness apps. Why did you design the content this way?
When we originally started, we didn’t use swear words. But last year, I noticed that we were swearing a lot, and I was really enjoying it. I thought, let’s just have a bit of fun with it. We also knew that no one else was doing it. A lot of brands in the wellness space try to be a bit worthy. The content talks to you like you need to be a better person. We believe you don’t need to be a better person, you just need to feel OK. We decided to test out swearing in our mantras. Women loved it! They wanted more. So we went a bit further and created morning sessions with swearing. There’s science around why this works. Dr Emma Byrne, author of the book Swearing Is Good for You: The Amazing Science of Bad Language, says that profanity has many positive virtues, from promoting trust and teamwork in the office to increasing our tolerance to pain. Swearing is a painkiller, a mood booster and it creates social bonds, and especially after last year, that is really important.
Clementine falls into the category of Femtech, a category that’s growing right now. What’s driving the growth of Femtech products?
There are a lot of different things intersecting and coming together right now. One is the female empowerment movement. Another is female founders.
Femtech started with Elvie, the world’s first silent, wearable breast pump. Designed by a woman for women, it gave us inspiration and it signaled that we could do this. Women want products designed by women because we understand what we need. Now, there are more and more women going into this space thinking, “I can do this,” alongside female consumers buying more female-centric products designed by women.
In the investment space, VC funds typically go to men. But Elvie paved the way for female founders.
Last year, you raised £1m from Fortunis Capital to grow Clementine. What advice would you have for entrepreneurs in this space attempting to fundraise?
When I knew I needed money, I was terrified about fundraising. It’s a scary world, with language you don’t understand and people who are judging you. I thought, why would I leave this to complete chance and not know anything about it? My advice is that if you don’t feel confident, get help.
I worked with “an introducer.” This was a person who only got paid if we got the money and he was incredibly well connected. He coached me on how to speak in investor language and taught me how to create a commercial model around my business. He also helped me know who to approach and he came to every meeting with me which really helped my confidence. Having him by my side was gold dust.
I would tell other entrepreneurs that if you don’t feel like you can do it on your own, don’t chance it. There’s a saying in the fundraising world that the money will come from someone you know. You just need to find a way into the network that you need.
Also, go in with your eyes wide open. Fundraising is a fulltime job. Dedicate 3-6 months to doing it. Talk to lots of other founders who have been successful and learn from them.
What’s been your biggest lesson so far?
My biggest lesson has been working out who I can trust and who I should listen to. I receive all sorts of advice every day, but I’ve learned the art of listening and worked out that I don’t have to do everything people say. Some feedback is good, but you do not need to take everything on.
In terms of who I listen to, the person who is closest to me is my husband. Working in an entirely different type of work as a teacher, I used to discount his opinion. But he understands me better than anyone else and he understands where my blind spots are. When I look back, he’s identified every single one of them, so I realized I had to start listening to him.
When the investors made their offer, I told them that I couldn’t go any further until they met my husband. At the time, I wasn’t sure I should have said it, but that conversation turned out to be an eye-opener. They immediately agreed to meet my husband over lunch. After that meeting, he told me everything I hadn’t heard. Since then, he’s become my chief advisor.
How has the pandemic impacted the growth of Clementine?
Unfortunately, mental health has been collateral damage of the pandemic. The impact, especially on women, has been catastrophic. It’s so clear now that it’s made investment easier and the value of our company so much higher.
Another thing that’s happened as a result of the pandemic is that we’ve been able to recruit the most kickass team of women because so many women are out of work or on furlough. We’ve been able to pick up some of the best women who wouldn’t have been on the market otherwise.
We’re on a growth trajectory now. It’s an interesting time from a marketing point of view. We know billions of people are suffering and are hunkering down with their emotions. Some people are looking for solutions, but those that are struggling the most, won’t even have the capacity to look. Our challenge is to get our product to the people that need it most.
For more information on Clementine, go to https://clementineapp.com/