Founder-CEO Interview Series

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Eva Galant

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Eva Galant is the Founder and CEO of Hashiona. Her professional career spans the globe, having worked in cities like Warsaw, Berlin, London, Tel Aviv, Chicago and Western Australia. She has co-founded 3 startups, and successfully exited Elite Card, a B2C Loyalty Program, before moving to London. 

She holds a bachelor’s degree in Management and Engineering of Production in e-technology from West Pomeranian University of Technology, and is an alumnus of the Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business’ exclusive China Start program, which prepares Western startups to start & scale operations in the Chinese market.

Founder-CEO Interview Series

With: Eva Galant

Tell us more about your background. 

I grew up in Poland and came to the UK about 7 years ago. My background is in civil engineering and IT. I used to work for many years as a product owner for tech support companies, software houses and seed startups, before moving into the business side and working as a contractor with startups.

I built a good and vast network around Europe over the last 10 years, as I was organising different events such as bootcamps, hackathons and IT fairs in many places such as Poland, Berlin, London, Canada, Tel Aviv, etc.

I am an experienced contractor with a demonstrated history in different industries, everything from Fashion-Tech, Medtech, Fintech, Blockchain, Robotic Process Automation, Real Estate, Automotive, etc. Before starting Hashiona, I was working for WeWork as Expansion manager opening new sites for them in Australia and CEE at a time when they were scaling very quickly.

In January 2020, I decided to quit my full-time job and pursue my dream by setting up Hashiona within the digital tech environment. It is a Femtech product targeting Hashimoto’s and hypothyroid patients, or anything related to thyroid diseases where most of the patients are women. 

We created a mobile app with a 20-week special program to help people get into medical remission step by step, because the disease is not curable. The only thing you can do is to change your lifestyle to support the immune system and body. We analysed 1200 medical articles to create it and we have been cooperating with doctors of various specializations.

The heart of Hashiona is the “Step by Step to Remission” program. The program lasts 20-weeks. Its main purpose is to support standard levothyroxine therapy with healthy eating habits and profound lifestyle changes. The program will guide the patient through a series of changes including diet, sports activities, methods of stress relief, attention to sleep hygiene and supplementation of nutritional deficiencies and allows to track the mistakes that hinder the remission of symptoms of this disease. Remission is understood as an improvement in the patient’s biochemical parameters and an increase in quality of life. 

Tell us more about the Hashimoto disease and why you decided to found Hashiona. 

I have this disease myself. I first noticed that maybe something was wrong with me during my university studies in Poland and visited several doctors, mentioning my fatigue and the need to sleep or nap a lot. 

I was a super active person while studying in Poland, with a full schedule from morning till evening that was filled with lectures, working part-time, doing projects, being involved in a non-profit, etc. The doctors told me that I have the right to be exhausted and it’s very normal and asked me to go on holidays or take vitamins. 

But when I moved to London, things started to get crazy. I had to sleep 12 or 13 hours per night but would still feel exhausted when I wake up. I was always physically exhausted, and it always felt like finishing a shift at the coal mine.

The quality of life for people with hypothyroidism is super low because you basically have no energy for anything. Imagine having the worst alcohol hangover that you’ve ever had every single day. You have low energy, nervousness, muscle pains, head spinning, etc. 

It was a coincidence when I was looking for something on the internet for my super dry hands, and someone mentioned that if nothing helped, I should check my thyroid. When I heard about the thyroid, I tried to remember about what I’ve learnt during high school biology lessons.

One day, I was back in Poland to visit my parents over Christmas and went to a private clinic for a blood test for the thyroid and… Bingo! My parameters were about 3 times higher than the normal range. I started educating myself about hypothyroidism and found that you can feel a little better after taking the pills. I took the drugs and came back to London. However, at one point I had to stop working for about 8 months to fix my health – to get into remission. It is a long process. 

I was lucky because I was working as a contractor in London at the time. I simply finished the contract and had the money and time to do the necessary. I spent probably £5-6k just for blood tests and so on, and not everyone has that kind of flexibility. Not everyone can just dedicate themselves to fixing their health. 

It was fine for about the next 5 years. But when I was working for WeWork in Australia, I was working a minimum of 12 hours per day, and sometimes up to 16 hours. I didn’t have a life. I worked most weekends, travelled a lot, had jet lags, didn’t have a proper diet and enough sleep.

One day, I woke up and felt that something was wrong with me. I went to a private clinic for a blood test and found that my TSH reading was 13 mIU/L (about 2 mIU/L is normal). The doctor looked at me and was surprised that I was even able to walk. At that time, I had to deliver a project, and there was a deadline for a big launch. 

That was the moment when I realised that my body could no longer cope with my ambitions, and I had to change my life. I returned to Europe in December 2019, quit my job, and had some time off to think about what I wanted to do next. That was how Hashiona was born and it is now a big mission in my life. 

I convinced a friend of mine to join as a co-founder, and now we have a team of 15 people. We won multiple awards and have been to different accelerators, such as the H+ Innovation Program Kick-off in Munich and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Draper University’s Impact Healthtech Pre-acceleration Program.

Investors from Silicon Valley, Draper University and others also invested €450,000 in a pre-seed round for this project. We are making the product better and hope to start monetising it shortly. Obviously, as much as this is impact- and mission-driven, you also need to have a good business to satisfy the investors.

Congratulations on what you’ve built so far because that’s a lot of work for somebody who’s struggling with energy so to speak.

Once you are in remission, everything is okay, but you need to have a super healthy lifestyle. I always sleep well at night and take care of my diet and stress level. Back then, it was the complete opposite. I was a smoker, loved doing projects overnight, and my diet wasn’t that healthy. 

I also used to love intense sports and not the regular or slow-paced types that Hashiona recommends, such as yoga or Pilates. I remember thinking that my first yoga session was so boring, but now I love it.

What drives you?

I love helping people and would like to create something meaningful. That’s why Health-Tech is so close to my heart, because you can have a lot of successful projects in IT, such as an e-commerce project, but it doesn’t really have a purpose other than money. When you have a passion and mission, it’s completely different because you can see howpeople’s lives are changing for the better.

I see a lot of women who suffered dramatically from Hashimoto’s and its consequences. Some were fired from their jobs due to brain fog and they couldn’t think clearly or articulate themselves; while some women had to get divorced, because they simply had no energy and felt nervous all the time. These women feel very lonely on their life journey because nobody understands them.

Can you share some challenges faced? 

During the Covid-19 pandemics, exactly in the moment we started our startup, I was simply terrified mostly because of the fact I couldn’t do anything. Previously, I would network and meet with people at meetings and conferences around Europe. There was a group of people that I would meet professionally several times a year in different countries, and they helped me to run the business and so on. 

Also, how am I going to talk to my patients if I cannot even meet them? How do I do customer development? We had to adjust and be flexible. And when the events went online, it opened so many doors because then, it doesn’t matter where you are located. 

We got the chance to participate in programs in Silicon Valley, Germany, Poland, Australia, etc. We also saved money on plane tickets, reduced our travel time, and did not have to deal with jet lags. Especially in the UK, living in a full lockdown mode for a long time, I only had the choice between working on my product, or going for a walk for groceries. Everyone was obviously tired of Video Calls and had a “Zoom Fatigue”, but other than that, it definitely helped me to focus solely on the product development.

Who or what has shaped who you are?

There’s never one person or one event in your life, but a series of events that will shape you over time. Living in a small town in Northwest Poland, close to the German border, I told my parents when I got 18 years old that I was going to move abroad for university and would live on my own. My parents were expecting that I would live with them as university was just 40km away, and I could’ve commuted each day. I went to Austria and was working in hospitality during the summer, and this chapter of my life made me realise how beautiful the world is, and how little I have seen so far. 

Another big step was when I decided to move from Poland to the UK as I really wanted to work in an international environment with people from different countries. I arrived in London without the ability to speak English. My adventure started with an English school, and I was fascinated by the students who were from all around the world, including India, Korea, the Philippines, South Africa, etc. 

One day, on a winter day,we were sitting in the classroom, and it started snowing outside of the window. Obviously, I’m from Poland, and for me, we’ve always had proper winters with lots of snow. But my classmates started to shout and were so impressed by the snowflakes. I realised that with diversity, you can really learn and fascinate from others, and they can learn from you. 

What is your hope for Hashiona?

We hope to grow internationally with the company and extend the platform to all autoimmune diseases, and not just to Hashimoto’s alone. We would love to help at least 2-3 million people around the world. 

If everything goes according to plan and we succeed, my secret dream is to have a private research institute in 5 years that will employ the smartest people in the world to work solely on immune diseases. I know it’s crazy, but we’ll see how things will go. 

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