It’s no secret that femtech has been chronically underfunded, but it’s now poised for explosive growth. The Truth is in the numbers.
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Getting funded for any startup can be challenging, but the discrepancy in funding for female founders is not slight. Traditionally, women-led startups have received less than three percent of all VC funding.
Although women have not yet caught up to the rate of funding of male founders, opportunities for funding are shifting towards femtech. Femtech funding has tripled since 2015, reaching $1.9 billion in 2021. We are at the dawn of a new era — the femtech revolution.
The term “femtech” originated in 2016, thanks to female entrepreneur and visionary Ida Tin, the co-founder and CEO of Clue, a women’s menstruation app. “Femtech” has sparked an energy and newfound awareness surrounding women’s health and wellness.
This new league of women-focused tech companies delivers health solutions that span digital health, life sciences, biotech, and more. The focus of women’s health is no longer limited to menstrual and reproductive health — although femtech empowers women in these important areas.
The specific challenges of women’s health are being addressed, with the main areas of femtech listed below:
Oncology (breast, cervical, ovarian cancer)
Bone health (osteoporosis)
Women have unique health issues that some argue have been downplayed, under-researched, and unarguably, under-funded — leaving a gender population that’s been underserved. However, the unmet healthcare needs of the female population are shifting to a more inclusive model.
Women’s reproductive rights have been challenged in recent times, and this has driven both demand and opportunity in the femtech market. Thanks to diligent women founders, organizations like the femtech fund, and venture capital firms focused on healthcare startups, femtech companies are getting the recognition and funding they deserve.
There’s a growing demand for health equity and funding equity.
Women are empowered as key decision-makers in healthcare. One study cited that women make 80 percent of family healthcare decisions, yet sometimes their healthcare needs are unmet. Despite females making up just about half of the global population, there has historically been a disproportionate amount of attention, R&D, and funding for female health issues.
Health concerns don’t stop at reproductive health. Women have a wide range of healthcare needs specific to their biology, and in some cases, women are impacted more or differently than men. These combined factors create enormous potential in femtech and opportunities for health equity.
Let’s dive further into a few specific health issues that affect women, furthering the need for health equity and femtech startups.
Although both men and women suffer mental health challenges, women are up to three times more likely to suffer from depression. Postpartum depression can plague women and may be a contributing factor. Sometimes, postpartum depression is not taken seriously and is often misunderstood.
One in 10 women suffered from depression within the last year. Hormones can play a role in women’s health, including mental health. The one size fits all approach has created gaps in women’s healthcare, and femtech is stepping up to meet demand.
Globally, four percent of people have at least one autoimmune disease. However, did you know 80 percent of patients with an autoimmune disease are women? Given these statistics, although some men are affected, autoimmune disease is largely a disease of women. Femtech companies are studying why and developing new solutions, such as nature-based supplements, to achieve wellness.
Gender bias has long been an issue when it comes to research and funding within sexual health. With significantly more focus put on men’s health issues, women’s health research has fallen behind. In one study, it was found that in nearly three-quarters of cases where a disease affects one gender, the funding favored males. The disease was either underfunded if it affected mostly women, or overfunded if it affected mostly men.
With a lack of funding and research in women’s health, women worldwide have struggled to get the sexual healthcare they need. Femtech companies are aiming to put home-testing, mail-order medications and contraception, and comprehensive sexual education in the consumer’s hands.
Mental health, autoimmune disease, and sexual health are just a few areas where women have unique health needs or are impacted disproportionately. There’s a growing movement for women to take control of their health and wellness, with a new focus on women’s health, spanning physical, mental, and sexual health.
All of these factors point to the enormous potential for femtech, with women demanding more. Female founders are creating solutions made for women — by women.
Investment in Femtech companies continues to grow, showing a 15 percent increase between December 2021 and July 2022 alone. But who is funding these groundbreaking female founders? VC firms are stepping in to fund femtech.
Venture capitalists, such as Access VC, have taken notice and are investing and seeking out startups focused on health, hygiene, and nutrition. Over 40 percent of the companies Access VC has invested in have female founders, focusing their financial investments on women’s health and wellness.
Access VC is a purpose-led venture of global giant, Reckitt, providing opportunities for accelerated growth, backed by experts in the health tech space. They’ve partnered with countless femtech brands that serve broad populations of women and niche brands that serve minority female segments.
Femtech companies funded by Access VC include:
Forbes describes this growing femtech as a brand redefining sexual wellness for modern-day consumers. Maude’s mission includes advocating for sex education, inclusivity, and simple sexual wellness products for overall sexual health.
The female founder of MPowder, Rebekah Brown, started her health tech company out of frustration with her own healthcare needs surrounding menopause. This plant-based powder provides natural supplements to support women experiencing menopause.
San Wellness has quickly become one of the best-selling supplements for Black women. They aim to help women worldwide take control of their health and wellness through Africa’s ancestral knowledge.
As a black-owned femtech company, San Wellness is paving the way in the health and wellness sphere, making waves and changing the tide for many women worldwide. Their focus is on whole-body holistic wellness through supplements.
Jude aims to support the urinary health of everyone, by eliminating the shame and awkwardness of the topic. They are tackling the topic of urinary incontinence from the bottom-up, attempting to eliminate the lengthy care process and embarrassment for women.
From supplements to panty liners, Jude supports women as they age naturally, allowing them to move freely without fear of leaks.
Femtech is rapidly growing and has garnered the attention of investors. Access VC is the venture capital firm creating an ecosystem in the health tech industry. The firm focuses on health, hygiene, and nutrition startups, with a strong nod to health equity and a mission to reach underserved populations.
Contact Access VC for more information about how they’re partnering with female-founded companies across the femtech space.
What To Expect for Femtech in 2023 | Health News
What Is Femtech, and How Is It Evolving in Healthcare? | Healthtech
For Female Founders, Fundraising Only from Female VCs Comes at a Cost | Harvard Business Review
Depression Among Women | CDC
Women as Health Care Decision-Makers: Implications For Health Care Coverage in the United States | NIH
Why Autoimmunity is Most Common in Women | Nature
FemTech Industry | Landscape Q2 2022
Gender Disparity in the Funding of Diseases by the U.S. National Institutes of Health | PMC