Ida Tin is credited with coining the term femtech, that is technology which addresses women’s biological needs. It’s expected to be worth $50 billion by 2025.
She’s the cofounder and CEO of Clue, which offers a menstrual cycle tracking app. Based in Berlin, Clue launched in 2013 and claims more than 11 million users in 180 countries.
Tin didn’t always see herself as a tech company founder. In the early 2000s, Tin traveled around the world on a motorcycle with her parents and brother. She also wrote a best-selling Danish book titled Direktøs about her experiences.
When the smartphone emerged, Tin felt this device offered a way of learning about the human body.
“If I could know what’s going on in my body that would be a really helpful tool, and maybe we could come up with some new types of data-driven family planning method,” she said.
“I could see there was a global need, a global opportunity, and I felt it with my own body,” she said. “I could use the phone as this navigation tool for my life, related to my body.”
Tin moved from Denmark to Berlin about 2009 and started a family and her business. The company launched the first version of the app in 2013.
“One of my biggest learnings is to really have the courage to form my role in my image. Especially, I feel there’s a lot of stereotype role models in tech that I don’t fit them,” she said.
According to Tin, Clue immediately stood apart from its competitors. Many of those apps were pink and “basically a calendar that could count to 28 days.”
“We built something that was very scientifically solid. Everything we put out was really fact-checked. We wanted it to be nongender,” she said.
During the early years, Tin focused on shipping a great product that solved problems for customers over driving revenue. She funded the company with $10 million in venture capital.
“Throughout our journey, we’ve been very clear that strategically we need to care about the user base, and growing the user base, and … maturing the product,” she said.
“We’re still somewhat in that phase of we’re now getting ready to transition into [the] actually making money phase.”
Like many mature apps, Clue has dramatically evolved since its release.
“We just launched a feature … [that] can help recognize if people have a condition called polycystic ovarian syndrome, which about 10% of women have,” said Tin.
“They can print out a report, bring it to the doctor and get appropriate care.”
From Scrappy Founder to CEO
Like many founders, Tin evolved her skillset as Clue grew. She also takes exception to founders working 80-, 90- and 100-hour workweeks. In other words: productive doesn’t equate to more hours at the office.
“The biggest advice I would give and maybe especially to female founders is: Take care of yourself. You can work yourself to death and still feel guilty that you’re not doing enough, and if you have a family you have that twice,” she said.
Tin recommends CEOs delegate areas of their company to a leadership team.
“One of the really hard things as a founder is to go from having your fingers in everything and owning every decision to really letting other people make decisions,” she said.
Tin spent the past year putting a leadership team in place, which enables her to focus on the vision for Clue.
“That has completely transformed the company to the better, and it frees me up to do what I’m best at. I would have done that much earlier,” she said.
However, Tin points out her company would have struggled to attract its current level of talent in 2013, which includes a former product lead from Pinterest.
“It takes a lot of effort to find a really, really stellar team and make them all work … well together. That’s probably one of the achievements I’m most happy with.”
She also recommends leaders open themselves up to candid feedback and ask for support when they need it.
“It’s a commitment to openness and to be willing to grow as a human,” Tin said.