At the Women of Wearables recent conference, I attended a panel discussion on the Rise of Innovation in FemTech. It was fascinating to hear from the entrepreneurs on the panel, from Essity, Natalist, Elidah and Elvie. The work of the panellists empowers women to take control of healthcare issues including: fertility, menopause and pregnancy.
The industry has not been immune to the challenges brought by the pandemic; supply chains were disrupted, and retail spaces closed. For example, for Natalist, the pandemic hit in the week they were launching their product in Target stores across the US. However, the pervading themes of the panel were those of resilience, growth and innovation.
As an investor in Elvie, I was particularly interested to hear from their founder and CEO Tania Boler. Frustrated to find that women’s health has been given inadequate attention in both the research and technological fields, Boler set out to make remedying this her priority and to “get women talking about health issues more”. She has achieved this goal through two of Elvie’s key products: the Pump and Trainer. The former is for breastfeeding, the latter is for the pelvic floor.
The panel discussed the impact of the pandemic on the industry and areas likely to see change. Tania Boler highlighted that the future of innovation within FemTech rests upon ensuring women are put front and centre of the entire design process. Research and development for medical devices is often directed towards medical professionals as opposed to the end consumer.
The panel also highlighted the challenges that arise for female entrepreneurs seeking funding for their FemTech businesses. Halle Tecco, founder of Natalist described that women often have a difficult time raising funds when they are at the innovation stage, perhaps due to the industry being considered niche, or because there have not been many success stories as of yet. The consensus on the panel was that women are currently leading the industry, and will need support through designing and funding in order for the FemTech industry to reach its potential.
FemTech will disrupt women’s health care over the coming years, and is estimated to be worth US$50 billion by 2025. The industry offers an exciting and vital opportunity to break down taboos shrouding health concerns and create products designed with women in mind. As an investor in this space, I am excited to work further with entrepreneurs and be involved with the changes that are to come.