Helene Guillaume was in town today to speak to students at the International University of Monaco. Based in Portugal and working between the UK and US, the 36-year-old entrepreneur grew up Belgium, Hong Kong, Japan and Peru, although her family settled in Monaco a decade ago.
A competitive rugby player who went on to compete in 100-km ultra runs, Half Ironmans, ice swimming and surfing, Helene had little understanding about her own physiology. “I was training and eating like a man,” she recalls. “I wanted to transform an industry through sports performance and female health.”
The “outdoor addict” combined a passion for sport with her Master’s in Finance and Financial Risk Management, as well as her scientific background as a management consultant optimising internal risk models using AI to Fortune 500 companies (including Fannie Mae) to found WILD.AI in 2017 in San Francisco. The app has a free and paid version available on Apple and Google Play.
Although women make up nearly half of the population, a 2018 paper on “Sex Bias in Neuroscience and Biomedical Research” showed that 80% of the animals used in research are male. “These findings cannot be applied to women who are impacted daily by the 500 menstrual cycles they’ll experience over 40 years,” explains the first-time mom. “More so, a 22-year-old taking the pill has different nutritional needs, physiology and digestion than a 47-year-old perimenopausal woman.”
Using the catchphrase “Unleashing the beast in female athletes,” Helene and her 10 employees want to radically advance female health by building the largest record of female datasets— across all ages, life stages and ethnicities—to help women understand their bodies. “Based on fitness trackers, blood tests and pap smears, women have vast amounts of data but it’s not stored in one place. We understand our cars more than our own bodies.”
Through WILD.AI’s research and algorithms, the app can not only predict that in two days a woman will experience bloating or menstrual pain, but also advise how to alleviate these symptoms. It can indicate that during ovulation, when the body is particularly strong, workouts can be pushed, and even be able to foretell a window of a higher sex drive.
According to Statista, the femtech market in 2021 was worth some $51 billion worldwide and is expected to reach $103 billion by 2030. Helene, a former Hedge Fund quant, says angel investors and advisors have been critical to the startup’s growth, enabling WILD.AI to reach some of the most renowned researchers in female health, such as Dr. Stacy Sims, senescence, and human performance.
Funding early on came from the London-based deep tech incubator Entrepreneur First (which includes board member and Linkedin cofounder, Reid Hoffman, and is backed by Greylock Partners, Founders Fund and McKinsey), as well as The Refiners in San Francisco, started by three French entrepreneurs, including Géraldine Le Meur (LeWeb).
In August 2021, Helene appeared on Dragon’s Den to pitch her startup (WATCH Video below) and today WILD.AI has partnerships with Adidas, Garmin and Oura, which she has worked non-stop to develop. “Running a startup is like getting fired a few times a day,” she shares enthusiastically. “Between investors who pull out or strategic partners who don’t come on board … and being a founder is way less sexy than it sounds.”
Article first published April 27, 2023.