Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Valentina Milanova, Founder and CPO of Daye, located in London, United Kingdom.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Daye is a platform for gynaecological health through menstrual tampons. In March 2020, we introduced the world’s first pain-relieving tampon designed to help the 90% of women who struggle with period cramps. We are now taking our tampon innovation further and introducing an at-home diagnostic tampon aimed at the detection of STIs and HPV.

This is important because STIs and HPV can lead to infertility and cervical cancer. Exams today are overly invasive, and as a result, hundreds of millions of STI and HPV appointments get missed every year. This is where our comfortable, non-invasive tampon comes in. It can detect STIs and HPV better than current methods.

With our at-home tampon diagnostic service, we can serve a wide range of patient groups, adding value to those with active sex life, recurrent infection sufferers, women going through IVF as well as patients experiencing menopause.

Our complementary telemedical aftercare layer not only democratises access to digestible gynaecological health information but enables every patient to act on their results with ease. Through Daye, women can connect with a gynaecologist or a pharmacist and get treatments delivered to their door.

Going forward, we want to expand our gynaecological health platform to cover other under-treated female health conditions, such as endometriosis and menopause. After successfully serving over 75,000 women in Europe, we are now expanding to the US. We have an experienced team who brings a lot of passion and know-how to changing the face of gynae health for the better.

Tell us about yourself

I started my first period when I was very young - age 9. I didn’t know what was happening to my body and experienced severe period pain from the start. This was the beginning of years that then followed with me struggling with gynaecological health issues. My personal experience with seeking solutions to my pain and discomfort is one where I always felt very disempowered. I really wanted to get access to better gynaecological health information and to solutions to the issues I was facing, but I couldn’t.

These experiences led me to believe that the experience of gynaecological health today is deeply unfair. I think that the exclusion of women & AFAB individuals from medical research is one of the greatest injustices, and it drives me to dedicate my life to finding ways to reduce the pain, shame, and time wasted in gynae care.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I didn’t have any design engineering or manufacturing knowledge when I first founded Daye, which was a big challenge as we had to set up our own production. One of the greatest difficulties I faced was that I didn’t have any credibility in the industry, which made it exceptionally hard to recruit talent or secure partners. Hardware engineers, in particular, tend to be somewhat old school and a bit of a clique - it’s very hard to be let in if you don’t have an engineering degree.

In the early years of Daye, I had to learn about machine designs, production cycles, and quality standards - it was a very steep learning curve. I am sharing this story because I hope it serves as inspiration for others who are looking to start a business in an area they are not super familiar with - you can find all of the information you need if you dig for it and don’t give up.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

The pressure of knowing that your decisions will impact your team, who rely on you to pay their rent, school fees, and groceries. The time commitment required to ensure that you create an environment where every team member's needs are seen and heard, and they are supported to be their best selves at work and to grow into their best professional selves during their time in your organisation.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Only the paranoid survive - every good founder is compulsively obsessed with understanding and mitigating the risks of their business. Even if it looks like you have everything going for you, you can still fail, in fact - you will still fail.
  2. Be really sure you want to do this - building a company is super hard and painful, and unless you really believe in your mission and are very driven, you won’t be able to survive the tempo and intensity with which companies are started. Founding a company often means giving up on your family life, friendships, and hobbies. The stress of early-stage startups can also lead to negative health consequences.
  3. It’s a sprint within a marathon - I often get told that running a startup is like running a marathon, not a sprint. I think a more accurate reflection is that you are running multiple sprints within a marathon - you need to manage challenges across different areas, and there’s always a new problem for you waiting around the corner.
  4. Get a therapist! I’ve been in therapy for the past 10 years, and it’s the single most important thing I have done to get to myself better, become a better people manager, and understand how to best my energy and emotions, and the energy and emotions of others. There is no reason not to get a therapist, and it’s the most impactful thing you can do to learn how to look inwardly when solving problems and navigating the highs & lows of being a founder.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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