The force of Femtech is upon us. With a little over half of the world’s population affiliating ‘female’ – coupled with the gross misunderstanding of women’s health and all the cycles that constitute being female (the female body long being misunderstood and under researched) – the terrain is ripe for the rapid emergence of the female-facing category of tech and digital solutions and services across the health, fitness and wellness sectors.
So what is Femtech? Pretty much, any product, piece of tech, app, diagnostics platform or software solution using technology exclusively to support, improve or chart women’s health. The term is believed to originate from Danish entrepreneur Ida Tin, founder of period tracking app Clue. Tin first imagined the app in 2009 as a way to track her own menstrual and fertility cycle.
By the end of 2015, the app had around 2 million active users and the brand raised US$7m in a funding round led by Union Square Ventures and Mosaic Ventures. The huge success of Clue – a technology solution designed purely for women's health – got other investors interested and a new term was coined.
From period health and fertility-tracking to medical apps and mental-health focused apps, FemTech Focus – the first Femtech agency – has a database of 657 active women’s health companies globally …a figure that is growing at about 20 per month (July 2021).
Most of the brands providing Femtech address:
Menstruation and period care products
Fertility and birth Control
There are also those which specialize in:
Pelvic and pelvic floor health
Ruta Halde, associate at Medi-Tech, says: “The future prospect of the Femtech market looks promising. At present, the majority of Femtech companies are focusing on the fertility and pregnancy space but in the coming 5-10 years this scenario is expected to change.
“Novel and promising areas such as longevity, menopause, sexTech and breast feeding are anticipated to witness rapid growth in the coming years.”
There is now also an entire ecosystem developing around Femtech – including some pretty impressive news services, which are great for keeping up on the latest developments. These include the Femtech Focus podcast (https://femtech-focus-podcast.simplecast.com/) and FemTech Insider (https://femtechinsider.com/)
Why Femtech could be your next career move?
There are a few driving forces which make the category enticing.
Femtech is in high-growth. The total addressable market (TAM) for Femtech is huge and the market is massively under-served. While the category is still emerging, health technologies that focus on women’s health have been accelerating since 2015. By 2017, global investments in Femtech saw 227 digital health deals being made, with an overall funding of US$11.5bn. According to Medi-Tech Insights, the global Femtech market was valued at US$22 billion in 2020 and is set to witness a healthy growth rate of 15% in the next 5 years. Some estimates (analysts Frost & Sullivan) project that the sector could grow to US$50 billion by 2025.
Femtech is purpose-driven. We now live in an age where purpose-driven businesses are a prerequisite to capture the engagement of the workforce. Purpose over profits piques Millennial, GenZ interest and beyond as we look increasingly to do more meaningful work.
Femtech is largely female founded. Like many great startups, the most powerful concepts are born from those inspired to solve a problem based on their own personal experience. This recipe ‘for the women, by the women’ provides enough direction and passion to outperform male counterparts. And you can throw in the mix working environments that are cultivated with a more emotional quotient (EQ) in mind. Anecdotally, leaders of Femtech say that a large proportion of their user base are happy to contribute their data to building a more understood data set around a challenge - allowing them to successfully navigate the necessary privacy restrictions of our times and serving women more accurately and personally in the future.
Women control consumer spend and influence. In developed markets, 90% of women across the developed economies are the primary healthcare decision makers for their family and key influencers for friends. Other factors are that 80% of the household healthcare spending is done by women and that working-age females spend 29% more per capita on healthcare, when compared to males in the same age group.
“With the rise of she-conomy, women are increasingly playing an
influential role across the healthcare continuum as consumers,
decision makers, healthcare professionals & caregivers” – Frost & Sullivan
It’s a growth market and for those looking for their next opportunity, there are a number of brands who are keen to bring on board talent with fresh ideas and skills to help expand and capitalize on the possibilities.
Femtech pioneers to keep an eye on
Marketed as the first FDA-cleared fertility tracking wearable, the Ava bracelet is only worn during sleep. The bracelet tracks five physiological signals and uses machine learning algorithms to extract from this data the five most fertile days of the menstrual cycle.
Ava raised a US$2.6M seed round with ZKB and Swisscom, two Swiss early stage investors, in November 2015. It has offices in Zurich, San Francisco, Belgrade and Makati.
Bloomlife is a remote prenatal care platform using an advanced combination of technology, data science, and medical expertise. Its mission is to empower women by delivering unprecedented insight into her health. With its smartphone-connected sensor and app, Bloomlife puts clinically validated information into the hands of expecting parents starting with a better way to visualize and track contractions.
Founded in 2014, it closed a US$4 million seed funding round in 2016, led by investors Marc Benioff and Efficient Capacity, LanzaTech Ventures, MeusInvest, Hanmi IT, The Chernin Group, Kapor Capital, and Act One Ventures. At the time, the round brought Bloomlife’s total funding to US$6M. It has since
The British Femtech startup offers individualized hormonal analysis and birth control. It aims to help women alleviate their hormonal symptoms and conditions, including endometriosis, anxiety, weight gain, and acne.
In October 2021, Tuune closed a US$4.6M funding round led by Octopus Ventures. The company intends to use the funds to launch in the US market.
Seen by many as the brand that started it all, Germany-based Clue launched in 2012 and its founder, Ida Tin, coined the term “Femtech”. Most recently, the brand added €16M in funding to support the roll-out of its Clue Birth Control, an FDA-cleared digital contraceptive. The funding was led by Balderton Capital and Future Positive Capital. Previous investors NGP Capital, Union Square Ventures, Atlantic Labs, Adjacent, and Molten Ventures (formerly Draper Esprit) also participated in the round.
The AI-powered platform which offers accurate cycle predictions, personalized daily health insights and a community of experts and peers closed a US$50m Series B financing round led by VNV Global and Target Global in 2021. That brought the total capital raised to US$65m and company valuation to $800m. After doing so, Flo said it will use the funding to fuel the company’s continued headcount growth as it targets top talent across product, engineering, R&D, data science and medical roles.
Headquartered in London and with a footprint across Europe and the US, the employee base has more than doubled in the last two years to 350, with the growth trend set to continue.
The brand helps women track body temperature to predict when they are the most fertile and not. Its mobile application has been cleared for marketing as a certified contraceptive in Europe.
Founded in Sweden in 2013, Natural Cycles boasts 1.5m users worldwide with the UK as its biggest market, followed by the US and Sweden. In 2017, it secured a US$30m funding round led by EQT Ventures, with existing investors Sunstone, E-ventures, and Bonnier Growth Media also participating.
Utilizing 70 parameters, Spain-based Woom provides personalized parameters on women's & reproductive health, empowering users to make the right decisions about their reproductive health. Woom uses AI to pre-diagnose – among others – fertility-related illnesses but also endometriosis, POCS and breast cancer.
In 2020, it closed its fourth round of investment at €2 million, led by BrightCap Ventures, with Begin Capital as an investor. Founded in 2016, Woom has more than 1 million registered users.