By Kelly An
Women’s health has historically been one of the most underdeveloped healthcare sectors analyzed by research and technology. The first women’s health-focused organization, American Birth Control League (now Planned Parenthood), was founded in 1921. However, women are still not getting the proper solutions for their health issues.
The public health crisis triggered by COVID-19 has had a significant impact on almost all aspects of everyday life for people. Women represent 51% of the world’s population, yet 90% of women are the primary healthcare decision-makers for their families and friends.
In a world that everyone can buy a downside put option to hedge their spy exposure, why can’t women hedge their health risk in a similar manner?
During our SSUP! Tour, we dived into the FemTech landscape by interviewing startup founders, VCs, and researchers from successful cases on the technical aspects of these innovations and how to deploy and scale in other regions with different norms and socio-economic backgrounds.
Market background status –
- The global FemTech market is projected to reach USD 1.186 Trillion by 2025, from USD 17 Billion in 2018, at a 13% CAGR during the forecast period 2020 – 2026.
- 35% of the market size will be focused on chronic conditions and reproductive health, and 15% will be covered by breast/uterine health.
- 25% of the existing market targets consumer products or goods.
- As of July 2021, 14 femtech companies went IPOs and 91 M&A deals. The most common business models are direct-to-consumer, insurance coverage, and employer benefits.
- There are 1550 FemTech companies, 1000 investors in this sector, and 30 R&D and labs around the world.
(FemTech landscape 2021 report)
There are three major driving factors for the future of FemTech:
- Bringing more scientific and clinical research to consumer facing products
- Building an inclusive community for more awareness as FemTech companies are increasingly relying on community based engagement to solve customer questions and effectively interact with broader customers
- Enhancing AI and clinical-approved solutions to further fuel the growth of FemTech market, especially in reproductive health, pregnancy and chronic diseases
Common themes from interviews:
- Culture taboos
In most countries, female health-related issues are taboo. Women are taught to be ashamed of their bodies from a young age, from periods to fertility to menopause are rarely discussed. The stigma and isolation can have a domino effect on women’s mental wellbeing and physical health.
- Women’s health research is marginalized
We have observed a shared pain in market data from both investor and founder sides. This makes it not only difficult for authentic entrepreneurs to convince investors, but also makes it difficult for investors who intuitively believe in the power of FemTech to advocate for it. It could potentially explain why many generalist health care funds neglect FemTech.
Conclusion – Women’s Healthcare is not a niche market
Women’s physical and mental health issues need more personalized and innovative solutions. Increasing accessibility and affordability across the world, especially in developing regions, is essential to pushing gender equality in aspects of life.
Funding for women’s health companies and research is limited. Obtaining a grant for women’s health is a long and challenging process for researchers. With 95% of investors being male, FemTech remained underfunded by traditional VCs. However, the increasingly growing number of inclusive venture capitalists and angel investors are shaping the future of investment space, the femtech industry is getting more energy from the investor side.
We believe that FemTech has the potential to empower women around the world and we want to be an agent of this transformation, making sure that all women have equal access to it regardless of the life stage they are in, the socio-economic background they come from, and the cultural norms they belong to.