Nishat Anjum Palka, Co-founder and CEO, MommyKidz

Interviewed By Muktadir Mubassir, Team MBR

MommyKidz provides a comprehensive app featuring a strong interactive social wellbeing community, crafted to empower girls, women, and parents through their journey of puberty, pregnancy, and parenting. It sets itself apart by offering a safe, non-judgmental space where users can share, learn, and seek advice anonymously about their sexual and reproductive health, engage in positive parenting discussions, and grow together without fear of judgement. MommyKidz offers information, healthcare resources, and essential products, complemented by user-friendly self-care tools designed to support women at every stage, from managing menstruation to navigating the challenges of pregnancy and parenting. It envisions a world where every woman and child thrives in safety, health, and shared well-being. Team MBR was in conversation with the co-founder and CEO of MommyKidz, Ms. Nishat Anjum Palka, and learned about her inspirations to form MommyKidz and her aspirations for the startup.

Muktadir Mubassir: MommyKidz is a startup in which operations surround women exclusively with the aim of providing information, healthcare, and essentials during their journey through puberty, pregnancy, and parenthood. Would you kindly share with us what inspired you to come up with this noble idea?

Nishat Anjum Palka: In 2019, I became a mother, and it was a rollercoaster ride. I could not find accurate information or mental support, and I also faced hardship in seeking general medical advice. I can still remember that for a brief 5-minute consultation, I had waited in the waiting queue for 2.5 hours with severe health discomfort. After the baby’s birth, I was also struggling with taking proper care of my baby, often feeling overwhelmed by the mistakes I believed I was making. Although there are several international platforms available, they are primarily developed to cater to the needs of wealthier demographics and do not accommodate the unique cultural and health practices we have in our country. These were the key reasons behind my decision to embark on this journey, with a commitment to addressing the inequalities present in most femtech platforms. My goal is to promote inclusivity and accessibility, ensuring that our platform meets the diverse needs of all women, regardless of their socioeconomic status or cultural background.

Initially, the plan was to develop a platform exclusively for mothers and parents. However, when we delved deeper, we discovered that in Bangladesh, 51% of girls are married before the age of 18, and alarmingly, 23% are married before they even reach 15 years of age. These young girls enter into sexual and maternal life with little or no knowledge about sexual and reproductive health. In Bangladesh, 24% of girls aged between 15 and 19 become pregnant, underscoring the urgent need for a platform where both girls and women can learn everything about sexual and reproductive health and ask any questions anonymously, without fear of judgment. This compelling reality served as a powerful inspiration for me to create such a platform that is for all women, ensuring they have a safe and supportive community and space to share, learn, and grow together.

Muktadir Mubassir: The authenticity of baby care products is uncompromisable, as counterfeit products can cause serious harm to health. How does MommyKidz ensure the authenticity of the baby care products it sells on the platform?

Nishat Anjum Palka: MommyKidz collaborates only with verified and reputable suppliers, manufacturers, or direct importers. A robust feedback and monitoring system allows customers to report any concerns about product quality or authenticity. Product listings on the MommyKidz platform provide comprehensive information, including the origin of the products, manufacturing dates, expiration dates, and any relevant safety certifications. This transparency helps customers make informed purchasing decisions.

Muktadir Mubassir: Postpartum depression (PPD) is a very common medical condition among women. May we know how MommyKidz is addressing this issue?

Nishat Anjum Palka: MommyKidz is deeply committed to addressing PPD, recognising it as a prevalent condition that affects many women during the postpartum period. MommyKidz provides a wealth of information on PPD through its app that explains the symptoms, causes, and treatments of PPD, aiming to reduce the stigma and encourage mothers to seek help. Recognising the importance of a safe space to share and seek advice, MommyKidz offers an anonymous circle of same-stage women where they can discuss their feelings, challenges, and experiences with PPD without fear of judgment. This anonymity encourages more open and honest communication. Understanding the vital role of support networks, MommyKidz is also working more on resources and information for partners and family members. This will help them understand PPD better and equip them to offer the necessary support to the new mothers. Very soon, through the MommyKidz app’s virtual consultation feature, users will have easy access to mental health professionals specialising in postpartum care.

Muktadir Mubassir: MommyKidz has a userbase containing individuals from more than 70 different countries. How does MommyKidz ensure that its contents are capable of catering to a multicultural audience?

Nishat Anjum Palka: From the inception of MommyKidz, our team was united by a core conviction to create a platform that truly resonates with the languages and cultures of our targeted users. We are committed to promoting diversity and inclusivity, ensuring services are deeply personalised to reflect each user's culture and language. Our team is dedicated to ensuring equality by providing equitable access to resources that honour the unique backgrounds of all users. Therefore, we have put efforts into providing services exclusively in the Bengali language, tailoring our contents, resources, and community engagements to reflect the customs, traditions, and practices familiar to Bengali-speaking users. It is important to mention that Bengali is the 7th most spoken language in the world, underscoring the vast and diverse audience we aim to serve. Currently, Bengali-speaking women from more than 70 countries are engaged with our vibrant community, finding solace, support, and information that resonates closely with their cultural background. Every day, our team of doctors and experts answers more than 500 health-related queries from both rural and urban areas, effectively overcoming the language barrier.

Our second-largest userbase is in Kolkata, India, demonstrating the widespread appeal and utility of our platform among the Bengali-speaking community. Looking ahead, after fulfilling all our objectives for the Bengali-speaking community and achieving the milestones we have set, we plan to perform extensive research on different languages and cultures. This will enable us to expand our services thoughtfully and inclusively, ensuring that new communities receive the same level of personalised, and culturally resonant support. MommyKidz is committed to this gradual, research-driven expansion, aiming to empower women across the globe by extending a platform that speaks their language and honours their culture.

Muktadir Mubassir: MommyKidz provides a platform for an interactive social community alongside informative contents, mother and baby care products, expert advice, and so on. Would you kindly share with us the revenue streams of MommyKidz?

Nishat Anjum Palka: MommyKidz has strategically designed its business model to incorporate four distinct revenue streams, two of which are currently operational and contributing to the growth and sustainability of the platform. The first active revenue stream is the MommyKidz Shop, which offers a curated selection of feminine hygiene products as well as mother and baby care essentials. This e-commerce platform meets the critical needs of our community by providing high-quality, trusted products directly to our users. The second operational revenue stream stems from partnerships, specifically through commissions earned by providing expert consultation services.

Additionally, while advertising and sponsorships are also considered part of our partnership revenue, we anticipate further growth in this area. These opportunities will be carefully selected to align with our community's interests and values, ensuring that any promoted content or products contribute positively to our users' experiences.

Looking ahead, MommyKidz is excited to introduce two new revenue streams. The first is a subscription model for our app, which will offer users exclusive access to premium contents, features, and personalised services. This subscription is designed to cater to the evolving needs of our community, offering more in-depth resources and tools for those seeking additional support. The second forthcoming revenue stream is data monetization, which will be implemented with the utmost respect to our users' privacy and consent. This approach will involve analysing anonymized data to gain insights and improve services, as well as collaborating with partners who share our commitment to empowering women and parents. User consent will be paramount, ensuring transparency and control over personal data.

Muktadir Mubassir: In rural areas, women struggle to receive the much-needed care they require during puberty, pregnancy, and early parenthood in comparison to urban women. How does MommyKidz address the needs of rural women, considering they are not as tech-savvy as urban women?

Nishat Anjum Palka: The MommyKidz app is specifically designed with a user-friendly and intuitive interface to ensure accessibility for users of all tech proficiency levels, including those from rural areas. This approach allows rural women to easily navigate the app, enabling them to access vital information and support for puberty, pregnancy, and early parenthood without feeling overwhelmed by technology.

Recognising the digital divide, after launching our subscription successfully, we are going to run several user education programs. These programmes are specifically designed for rural school and college girls, as well as for women, to demonstrate how they can effortlessly ask questions and receive expert opinions on a variety of issues related to sexual, reproductive, and child health. By taking these steps, MommyKidz aims to bridge the gap in healthcare access between urban and rural women, ensuring that every woman, regardless of her location or tech savvy, has the support she needs during these critical phases of her life.

Muktadir Mubassir: According to the National Survey on Persons with Disabilities 2021, 0.83% of children under 4 years old have at least one type of disability. Would you kindly share with us how MommyKidz caters to the parents of children with special needs?

Nishat Anjum Palka: Catering to the needs of children with disabilities and those who require special attention is among the most challenging yet rewarding aspects of our services to the MommyKidz community. MommyKidz is developing a true view of the unique challenges faced by these children and their families through the established community MommyKidz has. By gathering those views, MommyKidz is committed to providing specialised support and resources tailored for parents of children with special needs as soon as possible.

We will design educational contents, specialised guides, and resources specifically to assist parents in navigating the complexities of raising a child with special needs. From understanding their children's unique conditions to finding the right interventions and support systems, MommyKidz strives to be a comprehensive resource that empowers parents with knowledge and tools for effective caregiving.

In addition to our internal efforts, we are actively seeking partnerships with educational institutions and healthcare platforms. These collaborations aim to work together to create the most relatable and helpful content that can cater to the diverse needs of our community. By joining forces with experts in various fields, we will ensure that the support and information provided are both authoritative and tailored to the specific challenges faced by families of children with special needs.

Muktadir Mubassir: Continuous development and the introduction of new features are vital for sustainable growth and user retention for apps like MommyKidz. Would you kindly share with us the upcoming features that MommyKidz is going to introduce for its users?

Nishat Anjum Palka: Since its inception, MommyKidz has always prioritised delivering an exceptional user experience and surprised its users by setting a benchmark in Bangladesh for app maturity and user engagement right from its initial launch. Our commitment to innovation and user-centric design has positioned us as a leader in providing comprehensive support for women and parents through every stage of their journey.

Our immediate goals include enriching the platform with more educational content, such as developing parenting courses and providing specific guidelines for parents of children with special needs. This effort is aimed at enhancing and expanding our service offerings to meet the dynamic needs of our users.

Looking ahead, MommyKidz has ambitious plans to extend its reach globally. We have plans to introduce AI-powered features to provide instant support in both maternal and infant emergency situations. Our strategy for growth is centred on building a global community and ensuring widespread support for maternal and child health worldwide.

As we prepare for the release of our Pilot Version 02, we are enthusiastic about the opportunity to further enhance the user experience with an array of new features. Our goal is to make our platform even more vital to our users by introducing an affordable subscription model that promises exceptional value while ensuring access to premium contents and services.

While we are excited to share all these upcoming developments with our community, we also value the element of surprise and the strategic benefit it brings. Therefore, we are keeping the specifics of our future features confidential for now. However, we assure our users that our focus on enriching our offerings remains unchanged, and we are confident that these new additions will excite our community and underscore our dedication to meeting their needs in innovative and impactful ways.