We all know how stressful it can be to miss your birth control pill, from changes in your skin to hormone imbalance and, of course, risk of an unplanned pregnancy. Enter Emme, an innovative system that helps women take their health into their own hands. The Emme Smart Case system automatically tracks when you take your birth control pill, reminds you when you don’t, and even syncs with a custom app so you can live stress-free.
To learn more, Her Campus connected with the Co-founder and CEO of Emme, Amanda French, about what inspired her to create this brand. We chatted about what it’s like being a woman in the tech industry, why women’s health matters, and how Emme is changing the game for women around the world.
Her Campus: Tell us about the inspiration behind Emme.
Amanda French: The pill is the most popular form of contraception by far in the US, but it hadn’t seen any substantial improvements since its introduction in 1960. I learned how big of a problem this is during my time at Stanford Biodesign, where I heard from hundreds of women about their stressful experiences with missed pills. It turns out up to 80% of women miss at least one pill per month, which leads to nearly 1 million unplanned pregnancies in the US alone. For women, financial security, career advancement and personal autonomy are all directly tied to pregnancy and childbirth. I created Emme to solve the most significant issue women face with birth control pills as a first step towards empowering them throughout their healthcare journey.
HC: Women often rely on memory, alarms, and apps to remember to take their birth control pills. What makes Emme different from other methods?
AF: The Emme Pill & Health Tracker app is designed to be a comprehensive experience. Pill usage is automatically tracked with the Emme Smart Case, but users can track beyond their pills; taking a quick note of body, mood, and side effects with a daily check-in that allows users to “connect the dots” to how the pill affects their bodies in the long run. This helps women anticipate changes and plan ahead for self-care and notice long-term changes in overall health and comfort.
This is different from alarms, memory, and other apps because it actually works — we’ve demonstrated in user testing that the Emme Smart Case delivers an 80% reduction in missed pills. The design of the messaging, notification system and behavior-tracking solutions motivate users not only to adhere to the pill, but to engage with and enjoy the overall experience. We also worked with experts from the fashion and consumer products industries to achieve a “purse-worthy” medical device that reflects consumers’ standards and expectations today.
HC: You have over a decade of experience building award-winning innovative products for women’s health, and Hillary Clinton has even recognized your work. What’s an important lesson you’ve learned in your career that’s been crucial to inventing Emme?
AF: I frequently sought out opportunities to work with incredible inventors early in my career, which helped me learn the skills myself, and ultimately supported the invention of the Emme Smart Case. For example, the project I worked on that was recognized by Hillary Clinton at US-AID was through a volunteer opportunity with the Developing World Healthcare Technology Lab at Duke University.
By offering to help on “optional” projects, I was able to observe and learn from some of the best inventors. I used the same approach in my early jobs, offering to help on extra projects that weren’t necessarily within my job description. The lesson here is that if you want to learn a new skill, get creative and find opportunities to work with experts. Usually they are more than happy to accept extra help, so it’s a win-win.
HC: What advice would you give to young women who aspire to work in tech?
AF: It’s never too early to start networking. Especially early on, there is so much to learn — for example, there are so many sub-specialties of engineering within the medical device world (R&D, manufacturing engineering, and quality engineering to name a few), which I didn’t learn about in college until I started chatting with people who were already in the field. I’m always encouraged by how generous people are with their time, so take the initiative and ask for the meeting — at worst you get a simple no, and at best you’ll get a new connection that can help throughout your career.
HC: One of Emme’s core values states: “Strong women empower the world.” How is Emme carrying out this mission?
AF: When women are healthy, educated, and free to live life as they choose, everybody benefits. It’s often overlooked, but the gaps in women’s health create issues that affect not only women, but also their partners, workplaces, families, and communities. Our mission has always been to put women’s health in women’s hands. We’re starting with the birth control pill because of the immediate impact contraceptive access affords women. Access to real data and support systems — and the freedom to make individual choices — empower women to be strong, and in turn empower the world.
We love a brand that empowers women through innovation, and Emme is doing just that. (Psst: if you’re a student who’s passionate about helping women take health into their own hands, Emme is also accepting applications for brand ambassadors)! Learn more about Emme here and follow along on Instagram @meetemme.