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New Zealand’s Startups

From symptoms to startup

How I Keep Well

Endo45 cofounder Juliet Oliver engineered her way out of chronic pain and turned it into a tech startup. Now she manages both her health and a growing business.

Journalist

Mary Hurley

Endo45 cofounder Juliet Oliver

Turning 30 marked a pivotal time for Juliet Oliver.

She came off the contraceptive pill, which she’d been on for much of her adult life. It triggered a storm of health symptoms, including debilitating pain and deep fatigue.

At the same time, a new job opportunity propelled Oliver into a leadership role, demanding her last energy reserves and exacerbating the symptoms. 

“My personal and professional life suffered immensely,” she says. “But when you have this [pain] that keeps you up at night, and it’s tormenting you, you can’t help yourself but to sort of just be on the internet all night trying to figure out what on Earth is going on.” 

Oliver was eventually diagnosed with endometriosis, a condition that affects one in ten girls, women, and individuals born with a uterus, leading to severe pain, fertility challenges, and a drastic reduction in quality of life. Often, the only treatment available is pain management.

“My journey with my disease was debilitating, horrific and filled with misdiagnosis, much like everyone else,” she says. 

Oliver refused to accept that living with pain was her only option, so drew on her engineering background in the search for answers. “I’m wired to troubleshoot and solve problems.” 

With cofounder Justin Post, Oliver launched Endo45 in March 2024 after six years of research, expert consultations, and self-experimentation. As the name suggests, it’s like a “boot camp for endometriosis,” connecting users with scientifically backed research to help them manage their own health. 

Focusing on gut health, hormone balance, inflammation reduction, and nervous system regulation, the app offers a holistic approach to managing endometriosis, reflecting the path Oliver took herself. 

“You can go at your own pace, but everything, all the knowledge, is there.” 

The Endo45 platform

Oliver shares her tips for living a healthy life. 

Drop coffee

I’ve been caffeine-free for seven years. It is fundamental for someone whose body is in a state of chronic illness. Endometriosis is an inflammatory disease rooted in immune dysfunction. I got obsessed with green tea. 

What’s important is that you have a buddy. If you go for regular coffee with someone every day, it will be hard to break that habit if they’re not with you on that journey. Even if they don’t drop the coffee, they can be your accountability buddy.

Decrease alcohol

The second thing I did was drop alcohol. Often, you will hear from endo sufferers that alcohol is one of the things that is almost directly correlatable to a pain flare; the minute you have a glass of wine, you’re in pain. This was the case for me, and it was just too obvious not to address. 

I gave up for a year, and since then, I’ve been very conscious of my wine consumption. A small amount of spirits – like gin and soda water – is occasionally fine. But, if you’re in a chronic state, alcohol is like an atomic bomb to your gut health. 

Go plant-based

I went plant-based. When you give up meat or reduce your meat intake, you have to replace it with an immense amount of whole plants, all the colours of the rainbow. They need to be as close to the way Mother Nature made them. Make sure you’re still getting your protein. 

[Going plant-based] gives your gut a rest. When it’s in a state of dysbiosis, and you put in something heavy that’s hard to digest, like lots of bread or a big steak, it just can’t do it. There’s a tipping point in your microbiome. 

Get more sleep

You hear it often: How can we tap into our parasympathetic nervous system more? How can we nurture the vagus nerve? How can we regulate our nervous system? 

Those are really big words. A lot of people think, ‘I’ve got to reduce all the stress in my life. I’ve got to spend more time on myself. I’ve got to go for walks in nature.’ Yes, please do as much of that as you can but the habit that I actually boil it down to is how do we give you more sleep?

Because the most vagus nerve nurturing thing you can do for free is get good quality sleep. Be religious about building a new habit around sleep hygiene. 

Eliminate toxins 

BPAs, phthalates, and chlorine are now directly linked to several diseases, particularly endometriosis. They interrupt your system, disrupt your hormones, confuse your immune system, and add to your body’s inflammation.

So, it just brings it back to checking your bottles. Hell, make your own cleaners if you want – they are really simple to make. Choose organic, unbleached tampons and pads. It can be just one product at a time. 

‘How I keep well’ highlights what individual founders do to stay mentally and physically in shape to deal with the demands of startup life.

Journalist

Mary Hurley

Mary Hurley brings three years experience in the online media industry to the Caffeine team. Having previously specialised in environmental and science communications, she looks forward to connecting with founders and exploring the startup scene in Aotearoa New Zealand.

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