Skip to content

Changing The Conversation About Fertility – Lina Chan, CEO & Founder at Parla

Lina Chan, Wharton MBA Class of 2009

Could you please tell me more about your venture – when was it launched, and what it focuses on?

I founded Parla in 2019 with the mission to improve women’s access to trusted expert support and health education. Our approach addresses both the physical as well as mental health needs of women who face reproductive health challenges. 

Our customers come to us to improve their health journey across all reproductive life stages, from period, fertility to the menopause.  

We connect women with experts in nutrition, fertility and mental health so they can get holistic support in an empathetic and empowering way.

What inspired you to start a women-focused start-up, and how did you identify the specific needs or gaps in the market that your business addresses?

My personal fertility struggle and pregnancy loss is what inspired me to start the business. I struggled for over 3 years to have my family – I experienced trouble conceiving and a number of pregnancy losses. That journey made me acutely aware of how isolating it can be when you struggle with fertility, how reactive our health care system can be and how very little support is given to women’s wellbeing.   

How did your experience at Wharton help you with your venture?

So much of what I learned at Wharton was helpful on my entrepreneurial journey. As an entrepreneur, and during the early days of the venture you have to wear multiple hats and so much of what I learned in the Wharton courses helped me. From frameworks to develop my business plan, to building financial models, thinking about my marketing plan and negotiating my contracts – there was always one course I could draw on for help. 

What is your long-term vision for your business, and how do you see it evolving?

Parla got acquired by Holland & Barrett, Europe’s largest health and wellness retailer in 2022. I continue to lead Parla as part of Holland & Barrett. My goal is to “mainstream” women’s health. 

Most of women’s health services are very reactive in nature. Women will be struggling for a number of years before they get the diagnosis and help they need. That’s because much of women’s health is still taboo and under-researched meaning women live in a “disease” state for longer than they need.

For example: 

1 in 10 women suffer from endometriosis yet it can take up to 10 years to diagnose

1 in 7 couples suffer with infertility and that rate is growing

1 in 4 women will experience pregnancy loss yet it’s a taboo subject

If I am able to mainstream women’s health we’ll break these taboos, empower women with the knowledge and support they need to be proactive about their health and wellbeing – ultimately helping them live happier and healthier lives. 

What advice do you have for other women who are interested in starting a women-focused business, and what resources or support do you recommend they seek out?

My top tips would be: 

  1. Build something you are passionate about, as being a female entrepreneur can be a roller coaster so you need the optimism, resilience and resolution to keep going.
  2. Build a strong team – You don’t need to know everything and be the master of everything to start a business. Know where your weaknesses are and hire someone who can do those things better than you. 
  3. Find a mentor – being a founder is taxing and it’s helpful to have someone who can support and guide you along the way.

1 Comment »

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: