Starting a business during pregnancy and rushing off to hospital to give birth when she was in the middle of a 12 week startup accelerator is just part of life for Heba Shaheed – the founder of The Pelvic Expert.
A passionate advocate for women’s health, particularly for issues such as pelvic floor dysfunction and endometriosis (from which she suffers) Heba founded The Pelvic Expert as a one-stop digital destination. She provides evidence-based and holistic women’s healthcare programs for pelvic pain, pregnancy and postpartum problems.
Heba is a women’s health coach and physiotherapist who realised there was a lack of education and accessible services in pelvic health. Now she’s working to empower women to talk about and better manage serious health issues that are often viewed as a ‘normal’ consequence of having a baby.
Heba told SheHacksNews The Pelvic Expert was part of HCF Catalyst, a 12-week program run by HCF and Slingshot.
“The HCF Catalyst was a great experience because I don’t come from a business background and I don’t come from a start-up background. So, going through the program helped with the business logistics, such as learning how to be profitable as fast as possible, as well as introductions with mentors,” Heba said.
“There was also an entrepreneur in residence (Colin Kinner) so we got to check in with him once a week and he’d give us valuable tips and tricks.”
“We also had meetings with HCF every fortnight which was very useful because we’d love to get funding from an organisation like HCF. It was great to be able to build a rapport with them and see what they’re looking for, so if we apply for funding we’re aligning ourselves with their values as much as possible.”
The Pelvic Expert had very humble beginnings as a blog.
“It was just me writing about women’s health issues. With my background as a health worker, I thought it’d be a good idea to blog about women’s health and when I fell pregnant last year, I really wanted to help women learn about pelvic health.”
“So I turned my blog into a business and applied for the HCF Catalyst and that helped build it as a business from the ground up,” Heba said.
The Pelvic Expert provides online programs for women with health issues. Some programs are created for mothers; for example, a 12-week postpartum program. Women can find a variety of exercises, self care tips and recipes to help them improve their health across the duration of the course.
While Heba doesn’t have a technical background, she never saw this as a stumbling block.
“I’m very much self-taught when it comes to technical matters. But luckily my sister, who is more tech-savvy than me, has become my technical assistant, helping with the management and growing the business,” Heba said.
“Now we’ve developed a membership platform and all the social media that goes with it all. We’re also working to build on our social media. The platforms working best for us right now are Facebook and Instagram which seem to work well with our target market – pregnant women and women with pelvic pain. Social media is a great way to reach the people that need our advice.”
Heba doesn’t think anything of having started a business during her pregnancy. An overachiever perhaps?
“Yes, I guess I am an overachiever! It was a pretty intense time to start a business and I actually gave birth to my daughter when I was three weeks into the HCF accelerator. But I love that I gave birth on international Women’s Day – giving birth to a girl on a day that empowers women felt like a great thing.”
If Heba could give any advice to women wishing to start their own business it’s this:
“Do your research. Look for what platforms will work best for you. We chose WordPress. Make sure you do short courses in the areas you want to improve your skills on, and investigate a mentorship. It’s important to look for people who have done it already and ask for advice. You should always ask for help, especially if you feel like you can’t do it on your own. Find somebody willing to take the journey with you.”