Interview by Marija Butkovic @MarijaButkovic
Büşra Özcan holds degrees in both Industrial design and Brand Communication from Anadolu University, and is currently pursuing a master degree in Business Administration (MBA) at Ankara University, Turkey. She found herself dabbling in woodcraft as she has completed her internships in furniture industry. However, she has changed her interest in the course of time with the developing and evolving World. She always wanted to touch people’s life in order to change their modern but intensive, rapid but tiring lifestyle from the bottom of her heart. In 2018, she has started to build Lifecare from scratch thanks to her senior design project which opened many doors and offered many opportunities to her later on. She is the founder of Lifecare now. She has been designing products, services and user interfaces by user-centered design. Furthermore, she provides consulting service for design and product improvements, graphical enhancements, and educational purposes.
What is the idea behind Lifecare and how did you come up with it?
What do many people complain about their weight problems? 1.9 billion people in the world are experiencing weight problems. If this situation cannot be prevented, one out of 2 people in 2030 is expected to have obesity. Today, people have an intense and fast life high-calorie nutrition, sedentary life and stress which cause weight gain in humans. Those who complain about their body ask the Internet "how to lose weight?", they start their diet on Monday and give up on Tuesday. The reason for this is that the person cannot provide self-motivation and does not know what the body needs. Some people need dietitian support. Personal nutrition programs are followed by dietitians. But nowadays, dietitian interviews are replaced by online diet system. The main reasons for this are face-to-face dietician interviews that people cannot find time for, loss of motivation in the process, lack of personal follow-up and budget constraint. We are aware, an ideal and healthy body comes with a regular system!
At this point we have developed and designed the Lifecare body analyzer and system and Lifecare was born. With the body analyzer you will have access to as many professional results as the dietitians' offices and you will be able to see that your body is more than what is visible in the mirror. Body analysis will be done at the intervals determined by your dietician and you can follow your results with the Lifecare mobile app. Your dietician will be able to follow and update your nutrition program in the most appropriate way by following you with the Lifecare dietitian control panel in its professional environment. It will also be able to reach the client through the online system. Thus, we bring professionalism found in the dietitian offices to your home. We aim to provide you with a highly motivated personal control while protecting your time and budget.
To sum up, It is aimed that in this Project to take measures against obesity which is the biggest health problem of today’s world. Therefore, a healthy, personalized and flexible nutrition program needs to be prepared by a professional support based on the needs of the body. We aim to provide personal and professional support for the ones who want to reach their ideal body level and cannot go to the dietitians or gyms for professional support. Lifecare is not only a personal product but also a product service. The body analysis can be done anywhere with the portable body analyzer. Body analyses are tracked with the Lifecare mobile application and it provides an instant communication with the dietician. Dietitians can also follow the their clients’ body analysis results by analyzing their health, diet and personal information through the dietician control panel, thus, dietitians prepare the most suitable nutrition program to their clients’ needs.
When did this all start and do you have other members in your team?
All of these things had started with my senior design project that contextualised one of the biggest problems of the World. I have created awareness and I felt that this awareness is a major step forward that can change people’s life. In February 2018, I found Lifecare to realize the Project. Our understanding of making progress starts with the problem detection, synthesizing the results of researches and observations, and finalization of the product.
For this Project our team consists of experts in the field; there are 2 computer engineers, an electrical-electronic engineer and an advertising and public relations specialist with the exception of me. We are together to touch people's lives and to combine design and innovation. We believe that being innovative is more important than the being new and we keep dreaming and working on it.
How long did it take you to be where you are now?
This process, through academic trainings, work and social experiences, has lasted my whole life as well as molded my current life. In addition, my family and boyfriend’s support has contributed towards my professional career to which I am very grateful. If we return to the original question, my Lifecare career started one year ago though it feels like it was only yesterday.
What was the biggest obstacle?
Being an entrepreneur means that challenging with many problems at the same time. The biggest obstacle that we have to deal with has always been investments due to the fact that most of the VCs invest more in software projects rather than hardware projects in Turkey and meanwhile the tech industry is also dominated by men substantially which is causing an unfair situation. In addition to this, as an industrial designer, I made a separate effort to provide coordination in the field of software and electronic hardware which allowed me to can communicate more easily in interdisciplinary transitions. There is a quite nice proverb describing the situation in Turkey which I believe in and live it each passing day of my life "there is no shame in not knowing; the shame lies in not finding out"
What are your biggest achievements to date?
Firstly, it is an achievement to me that I am a woman in a country where the rate of women entrepreneurs is only 15%. Secondly, If you have a dream for a product or system and that dream is accomplished, it is an achievement filled with much emotion.
What are the challenges of being an entrepreneur in the niche you are in? How about being a female founder / entrepreneur?
To begin, we must stop setting limits on what we say men’s and women’s work is because there is no limit to what women can do as well as men. That is to say, there is no limit to what we can do as human beings as the most important thing is to start. I believe, women bring to big variety to World innovation and startup ecosystem. It is a true way, but I know and continue to love and work in this difficult environment. Every startup, developer and designer is facing the same challenges and because of this we must not give up but rather work together to achieve our goals.
What are your projects you are currently working on?
The design process, which I am currently working on, is a life-altering occupation which adds value through gradually building valuable products, changing lives and shaping tomorrow beyond being a vocation that only assigns physical values (form, texture, pattern, color etc.). I do not take this occupation lightly as I am sharing what I have learned with students and peers. I know that design joins product with experience and shapes the future by using technology and science which I strive to create awareness of. Most important to me is that Lifecare grows and develops more day by day. I believe that I can make everyday people's lives, as well as dietitians lives, easier which already excites me.
Is #WomenInTech movement important to you and if yes, why?
Inequality between men and women is a historical problem dating back hundreds of years ago but unfortunately a problem we still face today throughout our society. A prevalent opinion is that men are more logical meanwhile women are emotional. This belief is one of the key factors for determination in regards to women in professional life. Unfortunately, there is a public opinion that “women cannot take place in technological events”. This is an absolutely wrong perspective and I believe that every person should embrace their background, sex, and ethnicity and be able to pursue their passions and to expand on this thought, women should not give up their dreams just because of generalized prejudice. With these points being made, I strongly consider #WomenInTech as a movement that is encouraging and is a strong idea that breaks down the prejudice against women. Movements such as #WomenInTech provide opportunities to make the world a better place and thus we must take further steps to see the success of movements such as this.
What is the most important piece of advice you can give to all female founders and female entrepreneurs out there?
First of all, females in the workforce should not buckle under the prejudices found in society especially in regards to the prejudices Turkey has with women’s professional lives. These hardships are the reflections of the prejudice against women but in spite of this female entrepreneurs must stay strong and continue their hard work and dedication for us to see a change.
What will be the key trends in the health tech industry in the next 5 years and where do you see it heading?
There is crisis being created in the World due to humans that is threatening human health and our environment. Though the word “crisis” brings with it negative connotations, a positive aspect is that a crisis can offer new opportunities to people. With this reasoning, we are waiting for a great ‘creative destruction’ over the coming years. It is my opinion that creative destruction will create a large and lasting change. At first, virtual reality, IoT technology, remote diagnostics and tracking systems will accelerate this situation especially in the fields pertaining to obesity and cancer.
Who are your 3 inspirational women in health tech?
Canan Dağdeviren: Dagdeviren developed a conformable, piezoelectric, energy harvester that converts mechanical energy from internal organ movements into electric energy to power medical devices. In 2015, Dagdeviren was named to the "Top 35 Innovators Under 35" (inventor category) by MIT Technology Review, and to the "Top 30 Under 30 in Science" by Forbes.
Geetha Manjunath, Nidhi Mathur: Together, Manjunath and Mathur founded Niramai in India. Niramia has developed a novel breast cancer screening solution that uses Thermalytix.
If I need to speak to women from here, over 3 million woman are battling breast cancer today and it is important to receive early diagnosis. The power to detect breast cancer is in your hands. Check yourself to protect yourself!
Türkan Saylan: Saylan is famous for fighting leprosy and for starting a charitable foundation called ‘Association for the of Support of Contemporary Living’ for which Saylan was awarded the ‘International Gandhi Award’
Thank you to all the women who shed light on life and the co-founders of Women of Wearables, Michelle Hua and Marija Butkovic.
This interview was conducted by Marija Butkovic, Digital Marketing and PR strategist, founder and CEO of Women of Wearables and co-founder of Kisha Smart Umbrella. 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.