The Women’s Health Revolution
A new generation of femtech startups is prioritizing women’s health and seizing a multi-billion-dollar market in the process.
What it is: The femtech sector is centered on women’s health, including fertility solutions, pregnancy and nursing care, menstrual care, sexual wellness, and reproductive healthcare.
From new-age clinics and mobile apps to wearables and DTC medical testing, there’s a growing number of startups working to address the numerous pain points associated with women’s health, especially as it relates to fertility.
As a result, the global fertility services market is expected to exceed $50B by 2025. And TechCrunch has the broader femtech market on pace to secure nearly $1B in investment by year-end, surpassing last 2018’s record of $650M.
Contributing factors: A number of determinants impacting healthcare, entrepreneurship, and a shift in overarching cultural norms have led to this moment.
Women have become increasingly disappointed with and distrustful of a healthcare system that fails to address their needs. Now, instead of relying on the male-dominated healthcare industry, a new era of female entrepreneurs have taken it upon themselves to create the products and services they demand.
Like healthcare, women are similarly underrepresented in Silicon Valley and venture capital. This has made it difficult for female-led companies and female-focused solutions to gain traction. Although this issue is far from rectified—female-founded startups in the US raised just 2.2% of venture capital investment in 2018, and only 11% of all US VCs are women—femtech has nevertheless emerged as an industry ripe for investment and innovation.
Meanwhile, as Millennials and Gen Z wait longer to buy homes, wed, or start a family, women are seeking more control in the decision-making process surrounding when and how to reproduce. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 10% of US women have trouble conceiving, and 7M women (12% of American women of reproductive age) have sought fertility treatment services.
Surveying the landscape, more than 200 startups worldwide fall under the femtech category.
- Prelude Fertility ($200M in funding), Future Family ($114M), Progyny ($49M), Carrot Fertility ($15.2M), and Kindbody ($22M) are among the companies focusing on IVF, egg freezing, and medical treatments for female infertility.
- Dayima ($70.5M), Clue ($30M), and Glow ($23M) have created mobile apps for self-tracking menstrual and fertility cycles.
- And the list goes on. From period care companies like Lola ($11M) and Cora to Nuelle, a sexual wellness startup, the women’s health category is evolving in real-time.
Looking ahead: It’s important to note that many of the companies mentioned have only secured seed and Series A funding. As the industry continues to develop, the trend of larger, late-stage funding rounds and billion-dollar valuations are starting to seem inevitable.
As Elina Berglund, co-founder of Stockholm-based digital birth control startup Natural Cycles, elaborated in an interview, women’s health “has been under-researched, underdeveloped and underfunded. But that’s starting to change.
Unity Stoakes of StartUp Health echoed that sentiment, telling Fast Company, “It’s actually surprising that it’s taken so long, considering how big the market opportunity is and how great the need is.” He concluded, “it’s still wide open.”