Loanna Haseltine grew up in the Alaskan bush. She came to Paris, France to study fashion design and finally made her life there. She married, tried to have a family and when that did not work she created Luma Womb. She believes that her experience of growing up in the Alaskan wilderness gave her tools for being a successful human being. “When you live in a place where all your resources have to come from your immediate surroundings you learn to “think outside of the box” …when you survive in that environment you gain confidence about life and your surroundings. Your approach to the world becomes a belief that you always have everything you need within your reach. Whatever the situation there is a way.”
What is the idea behind your project / product and how did you come up with it?
It is probably the oldest story in the book: where a lead-user becomes an inventor because the industry is not able to respond to the users needs.
I was being treated with the normal protocol for unknown infertility. Finally the treatment itself created an infertility problem (this is quite commonly the case) - too thin endometrial layer. When my doctors prescribed remedies they did not work. I made my own research and found that there was no successful treatment out there for women like myself. What initially started as finding a personal cure has taken me on a five year road in the search to create a cure so that women like me can carry their own babies instead of only having a surrogate as a remedy.
When did all start and do you have other members in your team?
I was on my own for the first four years until Gladys, my business development partner, started, a little more than one year ago and the other members came on board shortly after.
How long did it take you to be where you are now?
What was the biggest obstacle?
So far we have been extremely blessed. I have felt guided during the entire process. Whenever there was a need or an individual necessary for the next step in the project the perfect answer or person has miraculously and beautifully showed up right on time.
I am so grateful for everyone who has come onboard or even offered advice during the process. It makes me feel that God or however you refer to It really wants this treatment out there to heal women .
Right now we are lacking funding but I do not see that as an obstacle, it is really just a matter of time.
What are your biggest achievements to date?
For me this is a difficult question to reply. I always feel like my current project is the biggest accomplishment in my life. I do not spend much time looking behind. Each success, or for that matter even failure is used in my current project. Everything has been needful to get me here. It’s like asking what step up the mountain was the most important. They have all been.
What are the challenges of being an entrepreneur in the niche you are in? How about being a female founder / entrepreneur?
So far I do not feel that the woman veritable has been a challenge in this project. But the main challenge I found was more in the first stages when I started telling people about the project and those closest, doubted it/me the most. It seems you get the most flack from the people closest to you. It’s a pity but it seems a common complaint echoed by a lot of entrepreneurs.
Also I would also say that a successful project depends entirely upon having an amazing team. Suit yourself up with people that have in spades where you are lacking. Sometimes personality issues come up because people who are so different do not always work, communicate or see things in the same way. Finding great people who continue to be motivated and working well together can be a challenge. But that is also part of the learning curve.
Is #WomenInTech movement important to you and if yes, why?
Yes definitely. When you look at the statistics of women entrepreneurs getting funding it is truly frightful.
That is terribly upsetting, not because of equality, but because women and men are complementary. Women have different abilities, different ways of doing things, and a different way of looking at the world. And the market has a lot to gain by having both men and women equally represented and supported and getting all of those ideas out there.
What is the most important piece of advice you can give to all female founders and female. entrepreneurs out there?
Believe in yourself, believe that you are enough, and believe in your idea, 100%. That means when you get a “No” or a rejection, you do not see it as such. Instead of perceiving it as a negative you see it as a gift of knowledge that it is- helping you get to success.
When I have had possible investors punch holes in my idea my response was not “that is unfair, a guy did not even read the research.” Instead it was “if he misunderstood or did not see the project correctly others will too.” How can we fix these holes so this does not come up again?
What will be the key trends in the health tech industry in the next 5 years and where do you see it heading?
I believe it will be taking treatments out of the clinic and into the home. I see self-treatment as the real future in health care. It works better in the face of economics issues, time and locational constraints, and the greater ability to customize treatments. My original plan for my invention was that it would be a home-use healing tool. But for technical reasons we were not able to start there. But it will definitely be phase two.
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.