How Femtech goes from niche to essential – Crunchbase News

By Andrew Gershfeld

Women hold half the sky. Yet the technology supporting women’s health is still not where it should be in terms of being seen as essential or gaining the equal attention of investors.

According to data from Crunchbase, 2021 has been a special year for femtech, as global venture capital funding in the segment has passed the $ 1.2 billion mark for the first time.

Maven Clinic has raised $ 110 million and achieved unicorn status, Elvie has raised $ 87 million and Flo Health has raised $ 50 million, all over the past few months, demonstrating the success stories the industry craves. .

However, in a broader perspective, the booming segment represents a tiny fraction of the digital health industry.

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In the first eight months of 2021, U.S. femtech startups raised $ 750 million, according to data from Crunchbase.

In my opinion, the segment is still vastly undervalued and, most importantly, the services it offers are underutilized. What can be done to move the needle?

Change perception

First, let’s define what is actually called femtech. Often seen as a collection of pregnancy planning applications, the industry actually includes a wide range of technological products that meet the biological needs of women. These include general health and wellness, diagnostics, reproductive health, pregnancy, child care, family health, etc.

Andrew Gershfeld of Flint Capital

Up to 45% of women suffer from specific chronic conditions, such as polycystosis, endometriosis, autoimmune diseases and hormonal disorders, and each year they spend between $ 1,000 and $ 3,000 to treat the symptoms. Yet only 4% of global medical research spending goes to women’s health.

In fact, while pregnancy and parenthood accounted for the largest share of VC funding over the past 5 years, 2021 shows a different trend. The main segments this year in the United States are:

  • Primary and preventive care ($ 668 million)
  • Pregnancy, postpartum and parenthood ($ 316 million)
  • Fertility support ($ 220 million)

Another growing segment is the menopause sector, with funding doubled from 2019 to 2021.

This is a significant shift to shift the perception of femtech from niche to essential. Not all women need to have access to pregnancy or fertility services; those who do, only use them a few times in a lifetime. On the contrary, primary care is something that everyone might need, while menopause support can improve the quality of life for every woman reaching this stage in her life.

Flo is a great example of an integrated approach to supporting women’s health: First started as a period tracker, it has grown into an $ 800 million platform for planning pregnancy, monitoring health status. health and get generic health advice.

Drive adoption

According to the US Department of Labor, women make 80 percent of health care decisions. and are often the ones who discuss preventive health topics with their primary care physicians to improve the health of their whole family.

At the same time, women adopt less digital health services, including video telemedicine, wearable devices and digital health monitoring, compared to men. One reason may be that the majority of these tools are not designed for women’s health needs, behaviors and priorities.

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The critical step for the entire digital health industry and the venture capitalists who support it is to promote a women-centered or at least equal to women approach in service design. A good example representing this approach is the Ro Telemedicine Platform, which created a dedicated platform for women’s health called Rory.

Support and collaborate

Currently, the global femtech market is fragmented, however, it is clearly on the path to maturity. The investment rounds are multiplying and the first mergers and acquisitions are emerging, so we can expect further consolidations and the introduction of the first companies on the stock exchange. By 2027, the femtech market is expected to reach $ 60 billion.

As venture capital investors, we have a role to play in accelerating this growth by:

  • Provide public relations support and raise industry awareness;
  • Combat unconscious prejudices and potentially increase the number of women investment decision makers in the room; and
  • Defend the change in perception of femtech solutions as essential health services.

Femtech is not the winner-take-all market. Multiple solutions and products designed to address various aspects of women’s health may not only exist, but work together to evolve into a powerful, multi-faceted industry.

Andrew Gershfeld is a partner of Boston-based Flint Capital, an investment firm that supports entrepreneurs from Israel, Europe and the United States at an early stage of their business.

Illustration: Dom Guzman

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