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Is there a need for such an app?" was the most common response the team behind the Lunacycle mobile phone application received when they set out to identify the need for using technology to help women keep track of menstruation.

After a month and a half of its launch, the app gained 100,000 users on iOS and Android platforms, with maximum downloads from metros such as Delhi and Mumbai.

Launched in mid-February, Lunacycle predicts the dates of your next menstruation cycle, tells you about dates when pregnancy chances are less and more, and notifies you about your changing skin and health conditions during the month. The app also helps keep daily track of your body temperature, body fat, weight and the dates on which you take pills and have intercourse.

“We wanted to build a sense of privacy where Indian women can be comfortable talking about menstruation and pregnancy, and offset the need for women to remember dates mentally or mark on calendars. In addition, we wanted to give them useful information about their changing health conditions," said B. Mallesh, director of Zero-Sum Wireless Solutions India Pvt. Ltd, the company behind the app. The Indian company is a subsidiary of Japan’s Zero-Sum Ltd.

Zero-Sum has launched the product in collaboration with MTI Ltd of Japan.

Luna Luna, MTI’s product for the Japanese market, has over six million users in Japan and Taiwan, and has been available for 14 years on feature phones and four years on smartphones.

“When MTI showed interest in launching this app in India, they got in touch with us as we (Zero-Sum Ltd) are also a Japanese company. They asked us to do market research in India and find out the need for a menstruation-based app," said Mallesh.

Zero-Sum’s India team found that most women in India were not aware that technology could be used to manage menstruation.

“They said there was no organized way of measuring and managing their periods. Most of them used to make a mental note of it or keep notes in calendars or diaries. But the app provides them much more than this and we felt there was a huge potential in this space," he said.

However, the Japanese app could not be directly replicated in India and had to be customized for the Indian audience.

Zero-Sum Wireless Solutions India changed the whole user interface and included features based on the needs of Indian women.

The app has been downloaded about 400,000 times so far, with 5,000 new downloads every day.

“The number of downloads shows that there is a nascent need for such an app," he said. The company plans to reach 1 million users in the next six months.

Apart from TV commercials on channels like UTV Bindaas, Channel V and Life OK, the company is also promoting the app on social media networks like Facebook.

The mobile app is most popular among people between 25 and 35, from where it gets 70% of the traffic.

“Our target base is educated young women using smartphones, with decent amount of disposable income and mobile Internet connectivity. These women are busy, manage multiple things and use technology for everything. This app is one more thing where technology can help them take more control of their lives," said Mallesh, adding that the app also helps women make better choices and be more aware about their health conditions.

While the Japanese app has some paid features, the Indian version is free.

But the company is looking to monetize the app.

“Free is good, but ultimately we want the app to be sustainable to be able to add more value for the user," he said.

The plan to add paid features is still in the discussion phase and the company is exploring options where it can partner with others to provide more information to the user.

For instance, it is looking to incorporate a feature where a user can consult a doctor and a Q&A feature where users’ queries are answered.

The company is also planning to tie up with various cosmetic and sanitary pad companies.

Mallesh explains that based on the needs of the user, the app will then be able to recommend products. It will direct the user to a partner website, and the company will earn by charging the partner.

“Luna Luna already has tie-ups with Japanese companies, which we can leverage," said Mallesh, adding that the company could start partnering with Japanese firms that also have a presence in India, and then move on to Indian companies once the app gets a sizeable user base.

In addition, Zero-Sum has the advantage that it already has access to the huge database of information about the needs of users that the Japanese app Luna Luna has built over the years, said Mallesh.

The four-month old app still has a long way to go and the company “will keep ideating and researching and accordingly we will add and remove features until we find the perfect fit."

Mint has a strategic partnership with Digital Empowerment Foundation, which hosts the mBillionth Awards.

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