All Things Tech: Let’s Talk FemTech
The days when ‘Tech’ referred only to ‘High-Tech’ are long gone: HealthTech, FinTech, AdTech, EdTech, AgTech and PropTech all became legitimate categories in recent years. It’s time to make room for a new exciting trend — FemTech, sitting at the intersection between technology and women’s health. We can see a wave of digital solutions dedicated to women’s health hitting the market. From inventions which use women’s menstrual cycle to predict fatal or chronic diseases, through revolutionizing fertility treatments to the world’s first silent wearable breast pump that fits in the bra (with no tubes, no wires and no need to mute yourself on that super important conference call you are on) — Women-dedicated technologies are the next big thing.
Generally speaking, FemTech is an all-encompassing name that defines innovations designed to support, improve and promote women’s health. The term itself was coined by Ida Tin, the founder of Clue — a period tracking app, who introduced it during her discussions with investors and almost accidentally created this new category. When Tin was presenting to (male) investors, the most frequent response she got was that they would not invest in a product they wouldn’t use themselves — it seemed to them like a niche market. I suspect you might have to be a woman to understand why tracking something that happens to you every month for over a quarter of your life isn’t niche; and indeed, Clue’s millions of users across 180 countries are a testament to this.
The Femtech scene has seen a surge of innovative solutions for women’s health problems: prescription birth control apps, tampon alternatives to wearable fertility trackers and internet-connected breast pumps. Period tracking, pregnancy and nursing care, women’s sexual wellness products, early detection of breast cancer and menopause support — the list of women’s health issues tackled with new, data-driven solutions goes on and on.
How Big Can It Be?
The first thing you’ll find when you Google ’Femtech‘, in different phrasings, is this: Women drive the world’s economy. Women represent 72.8% of US consumption and account for 85% of all consumer purchases. We are not just (a bit over) half of the world’s population; we are also responsible for global spending of over $20 Trillion a year (And contrary to what my darling spouse believes, it’s spent on more things than my latest pair of shoes). This huge spending, plus the fact that female health technology has until recently remained largely unexplored, means that the market is particularly ready for disruption.
Frost and Sulliven estimate Femtech products have a global market potential of $50B by 2025 and that that the global venture capital funding and investments across Femtech amounted to $1.69bn in the first half of 2019. This number is estimated to reach $9B by 2024; It’s clear that the potential in FemTech is huge, not just because of the potential to change the lives of hundreds of millions of women, but also as it opens the door to women developers and entrepreneurs, still outnumbered in the tech world: 80% of the Femtech companies that raised capital in 2019 were led by women.
While Femtech ventures initially focused primarily on solutions related to pregnancy, periods and menopause, we are now seeing an expansion to other areas of health such as chronic diseases, lifestyle and wellness. Still, a majority of funding is going to companies supporting reproductive health. Here are some of the main segments to look at today:
- Female fertility: We are seeing a significant increase in the number of startups entering the fertility space, driven by both social and technological shifts — not only are women delaying family planning, but also, advances in fertility treatments are making it easier for women to do so. Fertility startups are touching everything from hardware and diagnostics to community-driven mobile apps and tracking apps. Startups in the fertility space have evolved from simple mobile apps for period tracking and fertility window detection (Clue, Ava, Natural cycles, Inne, Grace Health and others) to diagnostics (Juno Bio, Modern Fertility), IVF outcome optimization (AIVF, Life Whisperer, Embryonics, Overture) and end-to-end fertility services (Kindbody, Apricity, Maven Clinic, Prelude). You can even find startups trying to hack the reimbursement model such as Carrot Fertility and Cleo, providing employee fertility benefits.
- Period products: Subscription services of tailored period products (Callaly, Freda) innovative period solutions (Fempo, Thinx, Tulipon, Daye) and a insight into women’s reproductive health and even a smart tampon system to track biological changes predictive of disease — the period products market is a $21B market that is expected to continue and grew at a CAGR of 5.8% during the next 5 years.
- Pregnancy: From an app providing nutritional recommendations during pregnancy, holistic support (I Love 9 months, PregBuddy, iMumz, Velmio, Oula) through a ‘Tinder for moms’ (Peanut) to wearables and data analytics (Bloomlife) and an at-home ultrasound device (Empathy Design Labs, HeraMed), tech-led healthcare solutions for expecting moms are also on the rise.
- Breastfeeding: No more deafening pumping sounds. For a few hundred dollars, you can get a silent wearable breast pump that fits in your bra with no tubes, no wires and no noise (Elvie, Willow). Wondering how much the baby ate or want to test your milk? Coroflo, MyMilk, ISenseU or MilkStrip have got you covered. If you’re looking for the support of a community, take a look at LactApp — a breastfeeding startup providing information and a community helping women deal with problems around breastfeeding. According to the company, LactApp is used by one in four breastfeeding mothers in Spain!
- Menopause: Starting with community support (Peppy) and going all the way to non-hormonal treatment for menopause symptoms (Kandy Therapeutics), a report by Female Founders Fund finds that responding to the needs of women experiencing menopause is a $600 billion opportunity.
- Female Biotech: Research shows that clinical trials and diagnosis for most diseases have focused on men and have tended to ignore how women’s bodies are different and may react differently. That is unfortunate, since as Caroline Criado Perez, author of ’Invisible Women‘ wrote: “Researchers have found sex differences in every tissue and organ system in the human body.” We see startups rising to support early detection of various types of cancer (Kheiron Medical Technologies for breast cancer, MobileODT for cervical cancer) and to better support cancer survivors (Lattice Medical, EZbra).
So Where is The Money?
It can’t be sugar-coated: If you’re a founder building a Femtech company and looking for early-stage funding, you’ve got a pretty challenging task. I recommend reading this great piece on “How to secure venture capital for Femtech startups”, and of course feel free to reach out to me directly. I’d love to hear from you! feel free to email me at [email protected] If you are looking to raise money abroad, here are a few good options:
- Femtech Lab: Europe’s first FemTech focused accelerator.
- Portfolia’s FemTech Fund: The first venture capital investment fund to focus exclusively on women’s health.
- Eve: An innovation hub helping build and grow the Femtech ecosystem in Israel
- SteelSky Ventures: A fund investing in what they call “the future of women’s Healthcare”.
- Rhia Ventures: A social investment venture focusing on women’s reproductive health.
- Rock Health: you can find a link to send your pitch deck at the end of the article
- Microsoft has stablished a female founder competition, running for the second time this year
- This is another great review of Femtech Investors, Angels & Funds
- Those were the top VC investors in Femtech startups in 2018
- If you’re looking to become a part of a growing collective of over 200 FemTech startups, established companies, investors, and industry professionals, you may want to consider the Femtech collective
The good news is there’s an emerging understanding that the needs are there, and where there are needs — there are endless opportunities.