Nicole Liu is the clever brains behind tech start up Kin Fertility, a platform that empowers women to take control of their reproductive health. While the company is making strides for women to better understand and tackle fertility, it wasn’t a path the entrepreneur had originally imagined herself on. In 2020, when misdiagnosed with Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), Liu realised there was a huge education gap missing for women, one that allowed them access to reliable, easy-to-digest information. Enter Kin, which is seeking to bridge that very gap, all through the eyes of the modern consumer. The evolution has been steadfast, seeing the platform grow from a blog to a full-service healthcare company that now offers contraceptive pill prescriptions (the first of its kind in Australia), vitamins and expert information.
In Episode Six of The Flipside, Liu talks normalising conversations around reproductive health, how seriously she takes launching a tech startup and why solving one problem at a time is always best.
When deciding to first launch Kin Fertility, Liu had no experience in the health or tech space, but was pursuing a career in commerce, as she explains. Launching a business in an area where you don’t have much expertise is undoubtedly challenging, but Liu says she’s learnt that it’s okay to not have all the answers.
“I don’t actually need to have all the answers… but what I do need to be is the person who is able to ask those questions and able to stand up for what I think the right experience should be or stand up for what the vision should look like.”
While Liu’s journey with Kin Fertility began when she was wrongfully diagnosed with PCOS, an experience she describes as “poor”, it’s one that made her “angry enough at the problem to solve it.”
However, for many founders, it can be easy to get carried away with the long term vision and goals of what you’re building, especially if it’s seeking to solve a problem like Kin. For Liu, she understood that in her space, it was about solving one problem at a time, and perfecting it.
“When I first started, I wanted to know everything straight away,” she says. “I wanted to ask all the questions. I wanted to solve all the problems. I wanted also, a five year plan for Kin — I wanted to know exactly what it would look like in five years. I was pretty obsessive with that for a while."She adds, “But I think what ends up happening is, you get so overwhelmed because there’s so much. The advice I got at the time, and it’s still advice I get today because I’m working on it, is really to hone in on the one thing you can solve at a time, and then go really deep on that. That focus gives you the scope to go deep and become an expert in the thing that you need, or find the information about the thing that you need.”
She adds, the job of any founder at the beginning isn’t to build that dream and get there “really, really quickly”, but rather to build momentum one step at a time.
“My biggest thing is... one thing at a time and just like really focus in on that.”
For Liu, who had little experience in the tech health space prior to launching Kin Fertility, the success of the business came down to the team she assembled to bring the vision to life.
“Start with what is the problem you’re trying to solve, and then what is the solution you need. Depending on the tech requirements there, find yourself the right person,” says Liu. “I think everyone’s journey will be different and it depends on their needs, but very much it matters about the person, most of all. And giving them the space, to make those decisions.”
With her high-demanding role at Kin, it was important for Liu to find the means to ‘switch off’. She explains, “I found that all the advice in the world couldn’t make me shut off. The thing that actually helped me the most was seeing a therapist, because for me, it wasn’t the fact that I didn’t know how to meditate or I didn’t know to eat better or to exercise, I knew that would help me feel better. I knew all that would make me feel less anxious, but I couldn’t get myself to do it because something was blocking me.
“I started seeing a therapist and have been working with them on anxiety, burnout, imposter syndrome — all the things. But really for me, those sessions where I spend an hour trying to figure out what my triggers are, what the thoughts that I have or the beliefs that I have that are driving the emotions and behaviours that I have. Like, how do I unlock that? Because then that makes me believe different things or think different things, which makes me feel different things, which makes me behave differently.”