Interview by Marija Butkovic @MarijaButkovic
Jacqueline Kressner is the founder and CEO of JK Health, a Health and Wellbeing platform. She has over five years’ experience in banking and finance in the UK, followed by two years in Asia, in the world of digital media and entertainment. In the UK, she worked for Man Group (a Global Investment Fund Manager), as the Nordics & Benelux Sales Associate, selling Investment Funds to the largest Insurance Companies, Pension Funds and Banks in the region. In 2015, Jacqueline took on the position of Vice President for Sports Illustrated Asia, launched Sports Illustrated Asia in the Philippines the following year, and built (from scratch), their Digital Media & Creative Content platforms across three divisions: Sports, Health and Esports.
Jacqueline is a keen advocate for Health & Wellbeing, having seen first-hand how these have become secondary concerns for so many busy professionals. She is a certified Integrative Health Coach, Ayurvedic Lifestyle Consultant and Professional Motivational Speaker. She founded JK Health, a Health & Wellbeing platform, where she organises and conducts motivational speaking events and educational workshops on leadership, optimal performance and wellbeing in Manila.
In 2018 she became an independent business consultant for Tech start-ups in Asia and founded PlanetShe, a global community for women’s Reproductive Wellbeing. Jacqueline is passionate about creating more awareness around Femtech, and is focused on building a supportive community of Tech entrepreneurs in Asia dedicated to improving women’s health.
Jackie, welcome to our team! Tell us a bit more about yourself, your background and how you became interested in a world of technology and fem technology.
Thank you for this opportunity. I am very excited to be representing WoW as Ambassador to the Philippines!
I am a Swedish national, born and raised in the U.K. I am a lover of Languages, Art, Culture, Business and living a healthy balanced lifestyle. My hobbies include travelling, all forms of outdoor sports, writing poetry & stories and brainstorming on creating new, exciting business ideas. I thrive best around open-minded individuals who are keen to learn new skills, are not afraid to work hard and take risks to better the lives of others around them. My purpose in life is to help people live more stress-free lives and to teach them to look after themselves and the people around them.
I graduated from University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Japanese & Business. I studied a year abroad in Japan before moving to Hong Kong to work in Private Equity. I transferred to London and spent 5 years working as a Sales Associate for a Global Hedge Fund Manager (Man Investments) covering the largest Banks, Institutions and Pension Funds in the Nordics & Benelux region.
Throughout my life I have always advocated a healthy lifestyle and, after taking a break from Banking, I studied at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in NYC and the Ayurvedic Institute in Stockholm, graduating as an Integrative Health Coach & Ayurvedic Lifestyle Consultant.
I moved back to Asia in 2016 and took on a role within Media & Entertainment, heading up Sports Illustrated Asia in the Philippines and building (from scratch) their Digital Media & Creative Content platforms across their Sports, Health & Wellbeing and Esports divisions.
Working to build a digital media platform in Asia opened my eyes to the Tech startup scene which was slowly starting to pick up in the Philippines and, in 2018, I became an independent business consultant to several Tech companies in Asia specialising in Fashion Tech, Esports and Wiki Technology.
Having worked within the health industry and through my own personal health & wellbeing journey, I found there was a huge lack in women’s health-related technology. As I delved into this realm, I came across the newly-coined term “Femtech”, which referres to revolutionising healthcare for women through software, diagnostics, products and services.
How did you find out about Women of Wearables?
As I became more excited about Femtech, I wanted to find Global communities that were helping to promote more knowledge and information sharing around Femtech, and to help develop them in Asia. I researched several organisations and found a group called Femtech Collective and, through their social media channels, I was able to reach out to Women of Wearables and promote Manila as one of their chapters.
You are an entrepreneur yourself. What is the idea behind your projects and business? When did it all start and do you have other members in your team?
I founded PlanetShe in 2018 on the premise that I wanted to create more awareness around women’s reproductive and menstrual health. At the time, I found that a lot of the information available lacked emotional understanding and had no means of getting to the bottom of what may be causing chronic symptoms to occur. I started to research about communities and companies that were working to help spread light on menstrual health and came across several Femtech organisations and communities helping to demystify the terminology around periods. I started building my platform in April 2018 with my co-founder at the time, who was a Medical Student in Vienna. We launched PlanetShe at the end of September 2018 and created surveys and workshops dedicated to spreading more information around reproductive health. I currently run PlanetShe as a solo project and I am looking to build out the product base with a dedicated team in Manila.
JK Health is my other current project, a Health & Wellbeing platform dedicated to busy professionals looking to improve their health. I started the project in September 2018 and currently organise and conduct motivational speaking events and educational workshops focusing on leadership, optimal performance and wellbeing in Manila.
I also created a community for entrepreneurs called Founders Anonymous, where I invite budding entrepreneurs to be part of an information sharing and mentoring network dedicated to supporting one another along their entrepreneurial journeys.
What are your projects you're working on at the moment?
Aside from the above, I am currently looking to help consult Femtech companies in Europe & America grow their businesses in Asia and expand their client base.
What was the biggest obstacle? How about biggest achievement?
For me, it comes down to your network and having the right people around you, who support you as you grow and develop your product. Being a solo entrepreneur is extremely tough and ensuring that you stay on track and motivated can really make what may be a successful operation fail fast. That is why being part of a global organisation like WoW will provide women like myself support in order to grow & develop products that can scale to a global audience.
My biggest achievement to date as an entrepreneur is creating a name for myself within the Health & Wellbeing space in Manila through my various initiatives as a Professional Motivational Speaker. I partnered with several co-working spaces, companies, embassies and organisations to spread the message of optimum health, and I am so excited to continue my efforts focusing predominantly within the women wearables space.
What are the challenges of being an entrepreneur in the niche you are in? How about being a female founder / entrepreneur?
The challenges of being an Entrepreneur in Femtech and Fem Health are that there are very few communities and entrepreneurs in Asia. There are several reasons including the lack of infrastructure & support and the cultural mores in some parts of Asia which may see this as a taboo topic. Spearheading an industry which is only just taking off in the Philippines comes with all sorts of hurdles as a solo entrepreneur. From the very beginning, confronting a taboo topic head on, finding product developers able to understand, design and code the product, finding the market to test the product (while dealing with questions such as whether the product is too niche), implementing and restructuring to adapt to the current target audience has its challenges. There will be many hurdles one must navigate as an entrepreneur in order to not only disrupt the status quo but carve out a new space in HealthTech without any current infrastructure to support it.
That being said being a female founder / entrepreneur in Asia has several perks namely there are several dedicated platforms just for female founders to encourage more collaboration, support and networking. Having lived in Asia for 4 years, I have seen fantastic growth in women-only forums dedicated to assisting founders like me gain access to the global community and leveraging the growing support for women entrepreneurs. They are excellently run, diverse communities and enable a large amount of knowledge to be shared with a wider audience.
Why is #WomenInTech movement important to you?
The movement #WomenInTech is important to me because by encouraging the creation of products for women by women, it enables women to become more Tech-savvy and technology to improve huge aspects of their everyday lives.
The Women in Tech movement provides more gender equality within all aspects of the industry from the coders to the product managers, allowing women to do what they love whilst supporting themselves and their families. This is especially relevant in developing societies, such as in Manila.
Fundamentally, women will be given more opportunities to go way beyond what they think is possible, dream big, create big and spearhead some of the most successful and advanced technology companies in the world.
How does the tech ecosystem look in Manila and Philippines in general?
The Tech ecosystem is expanding rapidly and it is extremely exciting. The Philippines is part of South-East Asia, and the start-up scene is exploding across the region. The abundance of underdeveloped infrastructure creates huge opportunities to solve real life problems. Philippines has moved rapidly in the e-commerce and fintech space with growth of startups gaining a lot of momentum because of widespread investment interest and development programs supporting the space. With mobile penetration growing rapidly, consumers increasingly rely on mobile apps to improve their way of life, creating huge potential for startups to disrupt the status quo, and build more efficient and more customer-oriented products and services.
As prices are still relatively low including cost of living and start-up costs, Philippines has become a honeypot for entrepreneurs seeking to create products/services that can penetrate the market and create a rapid flow of movement from supplier to consumer. Because of the infrastructure issues in the Philippines, finding ways to improve customer service whilst working with the current system is challenging but exciting. Many Tech companies I meet have very simple ideas but create so much value for the end consumer that they not only raise money fast but are able to scale rapidly thanks to high consumer use of social media and ease of market penetration.
From a personal standpoint I am most excited about the younger generation of techpreneurs that are rapidly growing in Manila, and the Tech communities which are popping up and propelling Philippines as a Tech Hub in Asia. This generation of entrepreneurs is resourceful, daring, impactful and does not take NO for an answer.
What will be your main goals as Women of Wearables Ambassador in Manila?
My main goal for WoW is to empower Manila’s Women Tech Entrepreneurs to dream big and be confident in their abilities to create & build fantastic products/services which can better serve not just the Philippines market but the global economy.
As Ambassador, I hope to connect Women Tech Entrepreneurs in the Philippines with WoW’s Global community and establish multi-national collaborations & resource-sharing initiatives to ensure they are given the full support and guidance they need to build their companies and create better lives for the people they are trying to help.
Manila’s Tech scene is buzzing!!! with exciting new communities, funding platforms and networking groups. By working with these already established entities, WoW will help support the growth and development of the Tech industry. I very much look forward to taking on the challenge & ensuring WoW is part of the growing movement in Women in Tech in the Philippines.
What will be the key trends in the fem tech and health tech industries in the next 5 years and where do you see it heading?
With figures estimating that women will control 75% of discretionary world spending by 2028 (Global Wellness Summit 2018) and Femtech predicting to be worth USD50bn by 2025 (Frost & Sullivan), I think it’s safe to say we are going to see some exciting developments in the Femtech space! With women’s health accounting for only 4% of the overall research and development for healthcare products and services, we are looking at a huge opportunity for startups to take advantage of this opportunity and build some exciting products/services in this sector.
From breast pumps, to pelvic floor innovation to period apps and personalized AI doctor apps, Femtechh is revolutionizing how women interact with and understand their bodies.
Key trends include more advanced tracking systems for menstrual health and more focus on monitoring and understanding each woman’s bio-individual framework. Femtech will become more integrated as the industry starts to dig deeper into the various different dimensions of women’s health, creating a more holistic viewpoint where women are catered to at every stage of their lives. As more women start to spearhead Femtech, we will see more natural products catering to menstrual health, faster and more accurate diagnostic techniques, more advanced technologies digging deeper into fertility and reproductive issues and more creative technology enabling women to enjoy every stage of their lives with more stress-free support.
There are of course several hurdles that women entrepreneurs will face while building their Femtech companies, including those of finding funds and support to help develop their products. Femtech entrepreneurs may continue to find it hard to find common ground with a male dominated investment industry. Therefore, as the industry continues to grow, we will start to see more women investors & women investment funds in the next few years to help boost Femtech. I’m so excited to be in this space and to participate in this movement.
The HealthTech industry which of course encompasses Digital Health, AI, Femtech is radically changing the health industry as we know it. The major trends within the digital health space seem to be heading towards focusing on scaling up and reaching more individuals with solutions becoming more prominent and accepted by the general public. AI will become more deployed across all aspects of the healthcare spectrum, extending from primary health care to more complicated intricate procedures within the operating room. As AI continues to develop and a number of algorithms steadily outperform doctors, there will be even more heated debates surrounding physician-based decision making vs. AI decision making, forcing both the current healthcare system and the HealthTech disruptors to either work together or clash constantly.
I will be very interested to see which countries are quicker to adopt medical AI for the benefit of patients. The trends suggest the adoption rate is faster in lower and middle income countries than higher income countries, so it will be interesting to see how this impacts patient outcomes over time.
HealthTech will continue to revolutionise the current healthcare system, enabling earlier detection of diseases, better use of resources, and more effective penetration & quicker diagnosis in provincial areas which currently have limited or no access to healthcare.
Who are your 3 inspirational women in fem tech and health tech?
Lola - Alex Friedman & Jordana Kier - no compromise when it comes to your female reproductive health.
Clue - Ida Tin - she coined the term ‘Femtech.’
Kind Body - Gina Bartasi - putting the woman in women’s health.
Facebook: JK Health
This interview was conducted by Marija Butkovic, Digital Marketing and PR strategist, founder and CEO of Women of Wearables. She regularly writes and speaks on topics of wearable tech, fashion tech, IoT, entrepreneurship and diversity. Visit marijabutkovic.co.uk or follow Marija on Twitter @MarijaButkovic @Women_Wearables @GetKisha.