Interview with Cindy Moy, the founder and CEO of Hot Flash Sisters
What’s Hot Flash Sisters?
“Hot Flash Sisters is a free health and social app for women in perimenopause. The app lets women track their symptoms, print a chart of what they’ve tracked, and talk to other women in the discussion forums.”
How did you come up with the idea for it?
“I have two daughters, a teenager and one in her twenties, and I learned that they and all their friends have apps on their smart phones that track their periods. I didn’t even know such things existed but there are over 200 such period tracker apps available for free.
The next obvious question to me was ‘where’s mine?’ Those apps were designed for young women. The text was small. The graphics were cute. They didn’t include any sort of tracking system for perimenopause symptoms. There weren’t any apps out there designed to do what I wanted or needed as I went through perimenopause, which can start when women are around age 35 and last until they’re in their 60s. That seemed like a huge gap in the marketplace. So I started doing research to see what it would take to create an app to track perimenopause symptoms, and the result was the creation of the Hot Flash Sisters app.”
Why did you decide to turn that idea into an app?
“At the same time that I was thinking about developing the app, I was broaching the subject of perimenopause with my friends. I was determined to break the silence around it. After I brought up the topic with one friend she became teary-eyed. She’s very close to her sister, yet the day before she had discovered that both she and her sister had been on antidepressants for months to deal with hot flashes and both had been too embarrassed to confide in the other. Then I asked her if the antidepressants were helping with the hot flashes and she said ‘Not really.’ I asked shy she didn’t try something else. Her general practitioner didn’t offer anything else and it hadn’t occurred to her to visit an ob/gyn. This is the the kind of information and support that women get from talking to each other but there’s a stigma around discussing perimenopause so we don’t. That conversation made me determined to get the app up and running.”
What has it been like to pursue a software startup coming from no experience in the software world?
“The steep learning curve is overwhelming, even now! I don’t have a tech background and neither does my business partner. Everyday is something new for us. That’s exciting but it’s also incredibly challenging.”
What has been the most gratifying about your entrepreneurial journey?
“We take feedback from our ‘Sisters’ seriously, so when several sent comments asking us to add Anxiety as a symptom in the tracker, we did. Now we’re getting feedback through email and our Facebook page telling us that women feel listened to and validated in a way that they weren’t before the app was created.”
What has been the most frustrating?
“The chart created from the symptoms the women track. We think Sisters will find it useful and we think we have it designed in a way that is easy to track and read…but we won’t know for sure until Sisters try it out and tell us what we got right and what we got wrong. And that bugs me because I want it to be perfect for women right away and we can’t make it perfect until we hear from the women using it — after they’ve used the app for several months.”
In your ideal world, what does Hot Flash Sisters look like in 5 years?
“Every woman in the world in perimenopause will be using it to support one another!”
If you could give advice to yourself when you were just starting this, what would it be?
“Be grateful that insomnia is part of perimenopause, because you’ve just had your last good night’s sleep for a long time!”
Learn more about Hot Flash Sisters here.