FemTech Marketing & Branding Entreprenista, Daniela Schardinger, on the Intersection of Women’s Health and Entrepreneurship

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Hello Daniela! Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business:

Hi Ladies! I am a FemTech Marketing & Branding Entreprenista, Featured Forbes SUPERWOMAN & 500 Femtech Analytics Personality. With my expertise in marketing and branding, I am specifically dedicated to supporting FemTech (Female Technology) companies in introducing innovative solutions to the market and building brands that resonate with women. I started Elafy Consulting because I believe that every woman deserves access to cutting-edge health technology that can help them live their best lives. I am passionate about advocating for women’s health to be taken seriously, and I believe that Femtech companies have the power to transform the industry. Let’s educate and raise awareness for women’s health issues – follow me on LinkedIn.

So Daniela, what excites you about being an Entreprenista League member?

Connecting with other like-minded women who are driven, creative, and passionate about their businesses is incredibly exciting. I can’t wait to share my own experiences, learn from others, and be part of a supportive community that understands the unique challenges faced by women entrepreneurs.

When did you initially take the leap to become an entreperenista?

Not too long after finishing my university studies – I was living in New Zealand at that time – I established my first company, a graphic design studio. Being someone who always valued independence and freedom of movement, I found entrepreneurship to be the ideal career path that could support my lifestyle. Over the years, I have built and led numerous businesses and strong brands across different parts of the world, including Europe, Switzerland, and the Middle East. In the last decade, I have focused my efforts on advocating for women’s health, an underserved area that I am passionate about. I established and led a Swiss women’s health/pharmaceutical company, and it was an incredibly fulfilling experience to create and develop that brand and community and to help women improve their quality of life. However, the challenges associated with this industry, such as social media blocks and taboos, motivated me to assist other companies in the same field with their marketing and branding efforts to bring new technologies to women worldwide.

What was your background in marketing and design prior to starting your own business?

My journey began in the advertising industry, where I had the pleasure of working with exciting brands like L’oreal. Working at various agencies in Australasia and Europe taught me invaluable lessons. It didn’t take long for me to realize that starting my own company and working independently with those agencies would be more rewarding. Later, I transitioned to marketing for law firms, which turned out to be a phenomenal learning experience. I had the opportunity to create a brand for a top tier law firm across 14 countries in Europe. This led me to explore the healthcare industry, and eventually, I found my calling in Women’s Health. This has been a fulfilling journey that aligns with my passion and purpose.

Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

I did know quite early in my life that I wanted to be independent and have the freedom to work from anywhere in the world. Working with different businesses, I began to realize that I had a talent for helping others create and grow their brands. Being an entrepreneur also allows me to work on projects that I am truly passionate about. I am able to take risks and make decisions that align with my values and goals, and that sense of control over my professional life is empowering.

As a marketer by trade, did you have a master marketing plan before you launched your own business?

It may sound too simple for some of you – but I am a true believer in word-of-mouth and networking as the best marketing strategy for any company, and particularly for female-owned businesses, for a number of reasons: Firstly, as a female entrepreneur, you may face additional barriers in terms of access to funding and resources compared to male entrepreneurs. This means that you may have limited marketing budgets and resources, making it difficult to invest in traditional advertising channels. However, word-of-mouth and networking can be low-cost or even free ways to promote your business and reach potential customers. Secondly, women tend to rely heavily on personal relationships and referrals when making purchasing decisions. Studies have shown that women are more likely to trust recommendations from their friends and family than traditional advertising channels. By building a strong network and encouraging your existing customers to spread the word about your business, you can tap into this preference and generate valuable leads and sales. Finally, as a female entrepreneur, you may face additional challenges in terms of visibility and recognition compared to male entrepreneurs. Networking can help you to establish your reputation and build your personal brand, which can be particularly important in industries that are traditionally male-dominated. Building a brand community can be a powerful marketing strategy, allowing you to leverage personal relationships and build a strong reputation for your brand, even with limited resources.

So Daniela, what would you say is the biggest challenge you have encountered thus far into your entreprenista journey?

Female entrepreneurs in women’s health face several challenges. One of the biggest challenges is the lack of funding and investment opportunities. Women-owned businesses receive less than 5% of venture capital funding, and this is particularly true in the healthcare industry targeting women, where this number is closer to 1%. Another challenge is the stigma surrounding women’s health issues. Many women’s health issues are still considered taboo or “embarrassing” to discuss openly, which can make it difficult for female entrepreneurs to market their products or services. My campaigns, around menstruation or contraception for example, were blocked from social media numerous times. In addition, women’s health issues are often overlooked or marginalized in medical research and healthcare policies, which can limit the development of new products and services for women’s health. Being a female entrepreneur can be challenging, as we face additional barriers due to gender biases and discrimination. I learned that we need to stick together, advocate for women and speak up about injustices in order to make a difference!

Daniela, we are so proud of YOU! What is the accomplishment YOU are proudest of to date?

I was part of making Women’s Health a topic being recognized as important within the World Economic Forum. Knowing that I am making a difference in the lives of women makes me proud, and it motivates me to continue pushing the boundaries in women’s health.

Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?

Definitely! I remember when I was leading the pharmaceutical company in Switzerland, just having turned 30, I was overwhelmed by the responsibility. During an interview I recall admitting that being a CEO of a start-up company made me ‘sleep like a baby – waking up every few hours crying’. At that time, I had not yet achieved a healthy work-life balance. Through my Wharton Business Program, focused on Neuroscience, I discovered that chronic stress can be detrimental to brain health, leading to damaged brain cells, memory loss, and impaired cognitive function. Additionally, it can trigger inflammation in the brain, which has been linked to various neurological and psychiatric disorders. Fortunately, engaging in activities outside of work can have a positive impact on brain health. Activities such as hobbies, exercise, learning a new language or instrument, and most importantly, connecting with people and loved ones, can help reduce stress, boost mood, and stimulate the growth of new brain cells. Personally, I find playing the piano a great way to disconnect from work, I love playing and watching tennis and whenever I need a good laugh I attend stand-up comedy shows.

Daniela, this has been so much fun! What’s a final piece of advice you can leave us with as well all embark on our own entreprenista journeys?

Over the past few years, I have been lucky enough to collaborate with and gain knowledge from powerful female mentors and leaders. During the early stages of my career, I didn’t realize that mentorship was a feasible option. However, I now act as a mentor on FemTech Accelerators, where I offer my expertise to startup founders embarking on their journey, sharing my mistakes and lessons learned. If you’re just starting out, I encourage you to seek a mentor in your field to learn from. If you’re further along in your career, I urge you to give back to the community by becoming a mentor yourself. Don’t let imposter syndrome hold you back! And remember: A win for one woman is a win for all women!

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