Updated: Jan 28, 2020
Jeanna is a co-founder of Layla Wellness (formerly PreOv), the first intra-vaginal fertility monitoring system to track changes in cervical mucus and the cervical environment. Layla was born out of a real personal history and is designed to give women the important knowledge they need to make the best decisions. Jeanna led the team as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) until she became their Chief Technology Officer (CTO) to focus on device and app development in July 2019 when they closed their pre-seed round of funding.
She is a board certified Physician Assistant (PA) with a diverse background in healthcare and technology, which led her to establish Layla with her co-founders. In addition to having a Masters degree in Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS), Jeanna is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with over a decade of clinical experience with a Master of Science in Nutritional Sciences, and a Master of Science in Computer Information Systems. She has received several awards for her excellence in leadership, research and teaching.
Tell us about Layla. When did you come up with the idea? How serious is the infertility issue and how can Layla help?
As busy women that have suffered the stress of trying to conceive, and the loss of unsuccessful attempts, we get it. Our own personal experiences are what inspired the creation of the device while we were competing in University of Utah’s 2017-2018 Bench to Bedside medical innovation program, where we won the $50,000 grand prize.
Difficulties getting pregnant impact 1 in 8 US couples. Infertility is a life crisis that is complex, adversely affects relationships, and involves aspects of psychological, emotional, financial, and physical stress. Having difficulties getting pregnant can be isolating because it is difficult to share. However, it’s common. Only 13% of women trying to get pregnant are able to accurately identify when they ovulate. Current tools for fertility monitoring are inconvenient and require daily testing and tracking. Many of these methods tell you when your peak fertile days have already passed. Even if intercourse occurs on the peak fertile day, couples only have a 25% chance of conceiving.
The Layla ring is simple. You insert it the day after menstruation similar to a tampon or menstrual cup, wear it for about 1-2 weeks until the app informs you of ovulation. The app notifies the user and partner (if desired) with meaningful information. There is no daily testing or need for a prescription. Advanced notice is provided and you can even have intercourse while wearing it. Layla helps women in building their family by removing the stress, time consumption, and guesswork out of trying to get pregnant.
How challenging is it to run a startup and manage being a mother of three?
Running a startup and being a mother of three daughters has been like being handed a baby, a toddler, and a kindergartener right before jumping off a cliff without knowing if I packed the parachute on my back correctly. Fortunately, my husband is willing to jump off cliffs and go to the ends of the earth with me. I spent the whole year that I was CEO of Layla either pregnant or breastfeeding, which required me to become even more efficient. Becoming a mom has changed me and I am more determined than ever to make the world a better place for my daughters. I love to work hard and be challenged. I love to solve problems, and I will always be going a mile a minute. It’s just who I am.
How long have you been living in Salt Lake? What do you love about living here?
I was born and raised in Salt Lake City, but I left to attend Boston University. I lived in Boston for eight years before moving to Chicago where I lived for four years. I made my way back to Salt Lake in 2013. Salt Lake offers a great balance for my family. I love that there is very little traffic, it is affordable, the economy is good, it is relatively safe, and the airport is easy to get to. We have easy access to the mountains and nature, and the tech industry is growing.
Do you feel being a woman in Salt Lake City (or Utah) is different from another city and why?
Yes, I do believe this after having experienced living in other cities, although it is impossible to quantify, and the disparity is everywhere. Becoming aware of unconscious biases is difficult because they’re unconscious. Adding in the role of intersectionality makes it even more complex and challenging. However, as an entrepreneur starting and running a business, I hope to be able to contribute in closing these gaps and creating inclusive workplaces that allow teams to thrive at the top of their abilities.
Where do you see Layla in five years?
I see Layla simplifying the process of getting pregnant, and saving women and couples time, energy, and stress. We will have expanded into the international market, and be extending use of the app to other major life phases including pregnancy, postpartum, and menopause to increase the value for customers. We will also have more data to better personalize and customize the customer journey making the app instrumental in family planning.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Balance. Also, marathon-viewing good TV.
What is your greatest fear?
That something bad will happen to my children.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
My high expectations.
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Lack of integrity and self-awareness.
Which living person do you most admire?
My husband. He’s one of the smartest, most talented, and hardest working people I know. Despite everything we’ve been through, he still adores me, and believes in me more than I believe in myself. He’s the best dad and the love of my life.