Femtech founders share their insights on the space

PitchBook already covered femtech in its related areas.

What is Femtech?

Refer to this specific

Female-focused, health startups are founded by females

. Our recent spotlight on femtech focused on key players.

2022: Female investors and founders

list, too. We are speaking with several founders of femtech in order to understand their passions and to discuss the challenges they face.

Femtech is a category of health software and tech-enabled devices that cater to female biological needs. A subcategory in the category

healthtech

Femtech is a recent addition to industry lexicon.

Vertical

Ida Tin, an entrepreneur created the name. Femtech startups help to illuminate the history and systemic exclusions of women’s health in the healthcare system.

Femtech’s 2021 year was a great one. VC firms in the field raised a record amount of $1.98 trillion, and women were able to track their cycles, as well as fertility and pregnancy. 2022 is also on the right track. As of March 8, 37 VC femtech companies had raised more than $155million. Continue reading to learn about the innovative leaders in this space, and what their most exciting plans are for the future in 2022.

Cynthia Plotch (co-founder of Stix ),

Cynthia Plotch co-founded the magazine.

Stix

, a startup that offers discreet, easy access to health products. This includes products for UTIs and yeast infections as well as pregnancy and Ovulation Tests. Plotch is based in Philadelphia and co-founded this startup with Jamie Norwood (her former colleague).

What is your most excited about the future of femtech technology?

We are excited by the huge growth we are seeing in technology innovation that focuses on women’s health. The world is becoming increasingly aware that there is huge opportunity in this sector. This means more attention, better customers, and more funds can be used to invest in much-needed improvements. Women’s health has been all but ignored for decades–we’ve been dramatically underrepresented in clinical studies, underfunded and under-researched–and the space is more than ready for attention and innovation.

What trends do they foresee in the space?

COVID has proven to many of us how important flexible care is. We have seen the rise of everything from telehealth delivery to at-home delivery, and we feel confident that this space will only grow. Consumers expect brands to do more for their health. Personalization allows consumers a more tailored experience from their healthcare providers and helps them to better understand their own health.

What are your top priorities in the work you do?

Unfortunately, funding remains difficult, particularly in venture spaces. Your report highlighted that the five-year-old low in capital share for female-founded startups is a fact. It’s also a problem with women’s health. Many people don’t get or aren’t able to empathize fully with femtech issues, which is a significant problem. In addition, the pandemic constantly presents new challenges in all aspects of supply chain planning.

Maya Hardigan, founder of Mae

Maya Hardigan, the founder of

Mae

, a platform for digital health that aims to reduce the disparities in maternal health among Black women. Mae is a New York City-based digital health platform. Mae offers doula support, birth planning tools, and access for pregnant women to culturally competent resources and tools.

Maya was the subject of our conversation last month

Find out more about Mae’s background and her life, as she shares her first-time founder insights.

What do you love most about the future of femtech technology?

I am thrilled to see such an emphasis on taboo areas of women’s well-being, like menstrual and reproductive health. It’s fantastic that we are normalizing these conversations, and it’s valuable for women to exchange experiences, share challenges and find innovative solutions.

What challenges remain and what are your top priorities in your work?

My view is that it’s a continuing challenge to work with healthcare providers to get these solutions to all. Many femtech products are being sold directly to consumers. This limits their impact and diminishes the value of these applications. It’s not easy to argue for payer investment or to commit to the partnerships that will best support the health, wellbeing, and education of all women.

Oriana Pavin-Zoghbi – CEO and cofounder of AOA

Oriana Pan-Zoghbi (CEO and co-founder) of

AOA

, a biotech firm that collaborated with McGill University’s most prominent oncology researcher to produce the first early-stage ovarian liquid diagnostic test. AOA is a Y Combinator backed startup based out of Boston. They have raised $2.5 millions in seed capital to accelerate development.

What are your most excited about the future of femtech technology?

The last two years have witnessed significant improvements in women’s health and femtech. Due to the increasing number of women who are vocal about lack of healthcare, women’s issues have become a major topic of conversation. I have never seen so much about ovarian Cancer diagnosis going wrong. This is just one example, but there have been many other issues in women’s health over the years. More noise usually means more resources.

I am happy to see more activity in the area of femtech. It is long overdue. It is exciting to see now that femtech as well women’s wellness are being given priority. It is often dismissed by some as a small market segment. But, in reality, over half of the population is female and there is over a $4 billion market. It is still a long road ahead, but femtech’s greater presence in the media as well as investor world will be a great benefit.

Laura Katz is the founder and CEO of Helaina

Laura Katz, founder and CEO of

Helaina

The startup aims to produce human-milk proteins that provide similar immunity benefits as breast milk. Helaina’s proprietary fermentation process allows them to commercialize natural-identical milk. This milk is nutritionally most comparable to breastmilk. Helaina, located in New York City to date, has raised $25,000,000 in venture capital funding.

What are the things that you’re most excited about regarding femtech’s evolution?

The innovations that are being made to assist women on their fertility journey are what I’m most proud of. We’ve come far in terms of changing the culture around fertility and breaking stigmas about women sharing their stories. It’s also inspiring to see the excitement of both investors as well as consumers about what startups in the space have done to support families and women throughout every stage.

What are your top priorities in the work you do?

While there have been significant strides made over the past years, I believe federally mandated parental time is essential to fully support women and their families as well as promote gender equality. Today, only 23% US employees have access by their employer to paid family leave.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

. Nearly 30 percent

Women without access to paid leave were dropped from the workforce

Within one year of giving naissance, half the mothers didn’t return for more than a decade. Women will continue to face unimaginable challenges both professionally and personally until federally-mandated leave is available to everyone.

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