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Action Learning

Entrepreneurship

Smart undergarments for women, by women

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DaVinci Wearables is a first-to-market smart undergarment that tracks menstrual cycles and hormonal fluctuations to optimize fitness health for female athletes. For CEO and Founder Christy Fernandez Cull, the mission is deeply personal: In addition to being a longtime technologist, she’s an athlete and a mom.

“Menstrual health is fundamental to understanding a variety of short- and long-term health concerns related to hormonal imbalance, infertility, and chronic health conditions,” says the Executive MBA (EMBA) student. “I personally came to MIT Sloan with parts of DaVinci as a vision, dream and aspiration.”

She partnered with fellow EMBA student Belen Fraile Ortiz, to launch the idea. As an obstetrician-gynecologist, Ortiz agreed with Cull: Most wearables lack female-specific features, such as cycle tracking.

“I joined MIT Sloan not only to gather the right entrepreneurial theory to properly arm this idea in my mind, but also to find the right partner, like-minded, who would be able to share the same passion that I had,” she says. 

The pair met during IDEA Week in 2021 and became fast friends.

“The friendship literally began over coffee in between class breaks rushing over to Brother’s Marketplace. We come from different professions but struck common ground as consumers of wearables while balancing being parents, wives, professionals, and EMBA students,” says Cull.

By 2022, they were in London for MIT Sloan Action Learning’s IDEA Lab, solidifying their idea.

“IDEA Lab further motivated bringing DaVinci Wearables into focus with an amazing friend, colleague, passion-driven partner, and leader,” Cull says of Ortiz.

The team was accepted into the MIT delta v student venture accelerator with MIT alumni co-founders Maria Galou Lameyer and Manisha Mohan, where they could spend the summer focusing on DaVinci. They collaborated with the guidance of Martin Trust Center Managing Director Bill Aulet.

“Having the opportunity to put dreams into action with the support from friends, professors, and mentors was the greatest benefit,” says Cull.

The team’s delta v preparation and ultimate presentation on Demo Day was a gratifying experience.

“Delta v felt like entrepreneurship on steroids. Not only did we get persistent exposure to the Martin Trust Center, we also got to network with fellow entrepreneurs as a cohort, test our hypotheses, work with board members, and discuss challenges with entrepreneurs-in-residence to permute, innovate, and better execute,” Cull says. “Presenting in Cambridge was invigorating and a fabulous culmination to the delta v experience.”

Next, the team plans to pursue fundraising, complete pilots, and launch proto-builds with contract manufacturers.

“This is the first time that I am working outside of clinical academic life or corporate executive roles. I strongly believe that the experience of creating a startup from the ground up, and most importantly, working on something that is a passion of mine, with a great team, will provide significant life lessons, both personally and professionally,” says Ortiz.

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