Design the future: An interview with Karina Vazirova and Katia Lang, co-founders of FemTech Lab
"Innovation doesn’t happen inside a computer screen, it doesn’t even happen at the product level. It happens in our minds and in our imagination."
Welcome to the second instalment of The Interview by Designit, a new series to bring you perspectives, insights, and advice from business and industry leaders who are designing the future. In this edition, we chat with Karina Vazirova and Katia Lang, co-founders of FemTech Lab.
Tell us about your role and remit within your organisation.
We are the founders of FemTech Lab, a global ecosystem and startup accelerator for cutting edge innovators in women’s health.
FemTech Lab is a mission-driven venture. Our goal is to improve the lives of 1B women globally by supporting the most forward thinking entrepreneurs in the sector.
We believe that the rapid innovation happening in women's health today will shape the future of humanity and society.
Tell us how you go about innovating. Is there a process you use?
When it comes to innovating, we don’t follow rigid rules or frameworks.
As entrepreneurs, our process always starts with imagining a vision of the future. That vision is usually a product of discovering a real market need and a passion to actually make the vision a reality.
We then figure out creative ways to get there. When you are disrupting existing status quo, you often have to find routes that no one has taken before.
It’s all about being in tune with the market, having the right creative instincts and knowing when to pivot.
You also have to leave room to get lucky, rather than trying to control every outcome.
What is one innovation of which you’re most proud?
We're incredibly proud of FemTech Lab and its rapid achievements.
Our vision was to create something unique by harnessing the momentum and passion of the FemTech sector. By breaking away from the traditional accelerator model and embracing the sector's mission-driven nature, we built a global platform for people to come together.
In just 2.5 years, we have accelerated 52 innovative companies. Our startups received support from 500+ world-class mentors, investors, and partners. FemTech Lab surpassed being a mere startup accelerator and evolved into a movement.
What has surprised you most in your role in delivering innovation?
The profound influence of human emotion and connection. In order to create something different or build a business, you have to get other people on board.
Innovation doesn’t happen inside a computer screen, it doesn’t even happen at the product level. It happens in our minds and in our imagination.
To get others on board - customers, employees, partners, supporters - you have to be able to communicate a message that resonates, not just intellectually but also on an emotional level.
What do you feel is one of the greatest challenges to innovators in today’s climate?
It's the best and worst time to innovate.
The best because incredible technological advancements, especially in AI, are reshaping our lives, work, and creativity. Social media has revolutionised how brands connect with audiences. Perfect for envisioning new products and services!
The worst because rapid change makes it challenging to stay focused on the right things. Many companies pursue innovation (like AI) just to follow trends or out of fear of falling behind.
Another challenge is the social media echo-chamber. Every industry faces it: LinkedIn and Twitter feeds flooded with repeated opinions and critiques. The echo-chamber is not productive, yet easy to get stuck in because fundamentally it's easier to throw jabs than to take consistent action towards change.
Lastly, the current economic climate pushes larger companies to reconsider resource allocation. Innovation remains vital, but some reduce budgets and opt for external innovation partners for efficiency.
What advice would you give to others in similar roles given this challenge?
It’s more important than ever to build a partner network to share market insights, opportunities, and lessons learned. If you are part of a larger brand - working with entrepreneurs, startup ecosystems and relevant communities can be incredibly insightful in seeing where your sector is heading. These relationships may also lead to productive opportunities in the future.
The worst you can do today if you are leading innovation in any business is to stay siloed and receive all your insight from social media.
Go out there, meet other innovators and builders, and get inspired!
Is your organisation looking for ways to innovate? Let’s chat.