Women looking for health information online have a growing number of options, from traditional content sites like WebMD and Everyday Health to higher tech platforms from several emerging startups. But the founders of ChickRx say none of them speak to women in the way that women speak with themselves.
“We realized as two very close friends, we were looking to each other for answers to health problems… [and] doing Google searches and turning to friends, but there’s no effective way to get advice that’s high quality, as well as from peers online,” said ChickRx co-founder Meghan Muntean.
Other platforms might have solid information but, because they can feel sterile, boring or scary, women are less likely engage, she said. So two years ago, Muntean and her co-founder Stacey Borden, both of whom are twentysomethings, launched ChickRx as a women-focused content site. Today, they’re relaunching the website as an interactive community platform to let women ask health and wellness questions of themselves, as well as experts.
“We’re emphasizing that it’s enjoyable and engaging and not just for when you’re sick or have a question,” said Borden. “There’s no one, really, in the health space for young women and we want to be that brand.”
Hoping to target women 18 to 40, the site has a look and feel that’s closer to a splashy women’s magazine than a stodgy health information website. Attention-grabbing photos are scattered around the home page and it displays questions and answers in a Pinterest-like grid. Muntean said they even work with a comedian to keep the copy humorous and fresh.
While the new site still offers a few articles, she said the content is mostly to help with branding. The meat of the site is a Q&A platform that allows users to publicly or privately ask questions of peers and experts. At the moment, about 200 experts are in their network, but Muntean said they ultimately hope to reach thousands. Topics range from breast cancer, weight loss and sinus problems to bikini waxes, hangovers and dating.
The startup plans to make money through advertising, as well as through e-commerce. In a products section of the site, ChickRx curates cosmetics, self-improvement materials, sex toys and other items, including a review for each.
I really like ChickRx’s idea of engaging with women on their own terms and definitely support making health information (and healthcare overall) more accessible, friendly and relatable. But I do think they’ll have to show that they’re as credible and valuable as other community and Q&A platforms that have stronger ties to the health community, wider networks of doctors and more functionality. HealthTap, for example, isn’t focused on women, but it allows people to personally communicate (and exchange medical records) with a network of 12,000 doctors. Also, while WebMD and Everyday Health serve a general population, they do have extensive women’s health sections and enjoy strong brand awareness. ChickRx said it plans to partner with celebrities, women’s magazines and major health organizations to get its name out there.
The founders said the site was live in its previous version for a year before they decided to switch gears and refashion it as a community platform. For the past year, it’s been in private beta as they retooled it with their full-time engineer. The company, which was part of health tech accelerator Rock Health’s second class of startups, has raised $550,000 in angel funding.