- I have a FemTech startup.
- FinTech startup?
- No. F E M tech…
“Ok… another buzzword” I thought when I heard FemTech abbreviation a few years ago. I started reading and did research what a FemTech really is. I was intrigued.
Prescription birth control apps, tampon subscriptions, wearable fertility trackers or Bluetooth-connected breast pumps — women’s health tech made a powerful step since 2013 when Ida Tin who created the period and ovulation tracker app Clue and started coining the “femtech” term. The FemTech -aka “female technology”- is simply the umbrella-term. It applies to various types of software, diagnostics, products, services — shortly, any solution that focuses on meeting female needs and solving their problems. And as the name implies, it’s all about using technology to find solutions to female problems, mainly in the area of healthcare and well-being.
Female health, sexuality, fertility, and reproduction are main focus areas. But a market that’s almost 50% of the global population is hardly a niche — it’s massive! It is surprising that FemTech is exploring so late, even though. In a world increasingly defined by technology, it’s very important to engage everyone. It goes beyond a tech spill-over into traditional female markets like fashion and beauty. FemTech is as much about the data, algorithms and lifestyle nuances in our highly automated, machine-augmented society. There are many startups and established companies in this space which use new technology including artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data, and the Internet of Things to develop interactive digital health applications for women’s health.
The question is why FemTech should be a separate market? Why do we need the female prefix before the word technology? The healthcare market is not enough?
Check out our new publication "The State of FemTech"
Half of the world population needs
Well…that’s a tricky question. But the general answer is “YES, we need it”. For several years, healthcare products and solutions were designed, developed, and delivered without paying special attention to the fact that healthcare needs are different for men and women, keep their physiological differences. It’s very important to recognize needs to serve women better, whether for medical needs that are specific to them or bringing in gender specificity for devices and solutions which are common to both women and men. Companies, organizations, startups that specialize in a given topic always achieve better results, because they focus on one topic — women in this case.
Today, 49,6% of World’s population is female. Women are the founders in 40% of companies, and they make 11,3% of VC partners nowadays. Venture Capital invested around $2b in female founders, so far.We see an 18% increase in the number of women business owners year-to-year.4% of CEOs and 21% of board members at Fortune 500 healthcare companies are women.
It’s not just about the business. Women are also uniquely empowered as consumers. It’s said that women drive the world economy. Women represent 72.8% of US consumption directly or through influence according.
Women account for 85% of all consumer purchases. Globally women now control $20 billion in annual consumer spending, and that figure could climb as high as $28 trillion in the next five years.
I can risk a statement — the future is female.
No, I’m not a feminist. It’s just about women health. If we take the woman’s problems out of her head, then she will be able to take care of what is most important to her at a given moment. It doesn’t matter if it’s a job, a hobby, kids, partner and so on. She will focus on the most important activities for her.
If one solution is good for a man, it doesn’t mean that it will work the same way for a woman. We must pay more attention to the solutions that are personalized. Only then will they be really effective.
Does FemTech really matter?
Obviously, FemTech is worth caring about from a “big picture” perspective. In terms of FemTech’s future and potential for success, the figures speak for themselves, and investors are increasingly backing female technology founders, from startups to those who are already well established in FemTech category.
Elvie is the most funded FemTech startup in the UK. They secured all together $10,5 million. It is an award-winning exercise tracker for the pelvic floor. Childbirth, as well as the normal wear and tear of living, puts a lot of stress on a woman’s pelvic floor, which can lead to incontinence, leaking, and, if things are really bad, uterine prolapse.
“I think we’ve got the potential to help women on a grand scale to live longer and healthier lives, but women are traditionally a bit hesitant when it comes to embracing certain technologies, so I’d like to focus on changing that and maybe the way we design it too.” says Tania Boler, CEO at Elvie.
Another example — Clue (Germany based startup) continues to go from strength to strength, and secured $30 million. Or Nuelle from the US — $22 million total funding amount. It’s been estimated that $200 billion is being spent on FemTech solutions every year.
Women have pressing needs for making care more accessible to them, whether it is due to the demographics or the urban-rural divide. Socio-cultural norms also often consider women’s healthcare issues as taboo subjects and make it difficult for women to seek medical care and healthcare advice, especially for infertility, menstrual health, birth control, and sexual wellness. It’s worth to mention MysteryVibe here. The mission is to help people and couples better understand their bodies, approaching sexuality in a curious rather than a seedy way. It’s not just a regular sex toy. Despite appearances, it is the perfect gadget for women to start a conversation with your partner. It solves a real pain point — the fact that as we get older, married, stressed with work or busy with children, the main thing that suffers is our sex life.
Let’s not be prudish, an important part of every person’s life.
Soumy’s (CEO of MysteryVibe) idea of the project — is based on “re-instilling sparks” in relationships, opening them to conversations with each other and re-feeling the “magic” in the relationship by building trust, based on self-expression and needs.
For last decades, healthcare products were designed without paying attention to physiological differences between sexes. Women’s rights were consequently spreading over years. Now, with the rise of FemTech, women are no longer dealing with what’s available — they create their comfort of life, take business into their own hands and use tech solutions to improve their reality — from women for women.
FemTech offers several advantages such as making healthcare minimally invasive, less intrusive, more practical and personalized to the needs of the patient. It has a high potential for improving the efficiency of screening and diagnosis powered by cutting-edge technology such as artificial intelligence, big data, and analytics.
I think that there is a big lack in one area in women health that FemTech can cover perfectly. It demands significant attention — mental health, particularly depression (including post-partum) and anxiety. I regularly watch emerging startups that see this “hole” and want to respond to these problems. I am very happy that mental health is also noticeable and FemTech is able to help.
To sum up, FemTech is growing, though how quickly and what exactly that means remains to be seen. FemTech connects the outside world with this virtual/digital one.
New technology combines the digital world with the physical one. Apps are accessible to millions of people worldwide via a few taps on a device kept in their pocket. But it’s not just applications that make everyday life easier, it’s also a step in the future to strengthen prevention and initiate conversations. FemTech technology is advancing, impacting the way we live, and presenting new opportunities to improve the delivery of healthcare.
I wouldn’t say FemTech is a buzzword.
It’s the next step for better women’s healthcare.
Check out our new publication "The State of FemTech"
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Are you an entrepreneur, startup founder or an advocate of women’s health and interested to know more about FemTech? We would love to hear your opinions, ideas and projects on what you think will be the future of FemTech. Please connect with us! Email us (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we could discuss the possibilities in this space.