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Why 2016 was a huge year for women’s health tech

Last month, Ida Tin raised $20 million for her period-tracking app. 

A couple of weeks earlier, the telemedicine startup Nurx brought in $5.3 million for prescribing contraception via an app, and the corporate Ava rounded up $9.7 million for a wearable fertility tracker. Add to that some notable raises from earlier this year — $200 million in personal fairness funding for the fertility tech firm Prelude and $14.7 million for its competitor Progyny

It was a lot of cash in a brief period of time for women’s health — an space as soon as seen by buyers as “niche.” 

“It’s interesting to see how the world has moved since we started talking to investors three or four years ago,” Tin, CEO of the period-tracking app Clue, informed Mashable. “Back then, people would say it feels like a niche product, which it obviously isn’t since it’s relevant to half the world. We don’t hear that anymore.” 

A $200 billion business

Investors are lastly catching on to the significance — and market potential — of tech startups that cater to the oft-ignored health wants of half the inhabitants. 

Tin calls this class “femtech.” It consists of period trackers, apps to prescribe birth control, internet-connected breast pumps and intercourse toys, apps and wearables for fertility tracking in addition to tampon alternatives and wholesalers, to start out. Tin estimates that $200 billion is being spent in these classes of women’s health already.

The corporations gaining floor on this sector — each in conventional healthcare and on the buyer aspect — are backed by a number of the most high-profile buyers on the market. Digital health startups as a entire raised $5.8 billion from investors in 2015 and $3.5 billion in the first two quarters of 2016, in accordance with CB Insights. Full 2016 knowledge is not but obtainable. 

Nurx, the app for contraception, and Flex, a tampon various, each went by means of the Silicon Valley incubator Y Combinator. Tin’s Clue and Nurx are each backed by Union Square Ventures. 

Flex and Nurx have been each among the many prime 10 corporations out of greater than 100 to boost probably the most cash throughout their respective Demo Days at Y Combinator, when the incubator’s startups current to potential buyers. 

“In the past year-and-a-half we’ve seen many companies applying that address these issues,” Y Combinator companion Kat Manalac advised Mashable. “It is proof there is investor interest in this space.”

A delayed begin

Although entrepreneurs engaged on women’s health say they’ve seen extra curiosity from buyers just lately, they’re ranging from a very low bar.

Women’s health startups raised simply $82 million within the first three quarters of 2015, in response to a report from the seed fund Rock Health. CB Insights discovered health train in that year raised a complete of $5.eight billion.

Compared to different areas of the tech world, women’s health tech is unexplored territory. Facebook and Twitter or Uber and Airbnb, for instance, are all hovering across the 10-year mark. 

“All the women’s health startups we see now, most of the ones we talk about in our space, have come up in the last couple of years. None of them are 10 years old. They were all founded in the last two-to-five years,” Ava co-founder Lea von Bidder informed Mashable. “Tech has really taken over all of our lives, and at some point people started to realize some areas where it’s been lacking. Women’s health is one of those areas.” 

One of the primary of those corporations to draw consideration was the interval subscription service HelloFlo, which went viral in 2013 with an advert depicting a woman who was the primary one to get her interval at summer time camp. 

At the identical time as these corporations have been launching, feminism became a more popular rallying cry for marketers — and main buyers. During these years, health tech gained floor in classes aside from women’s health — from the primary health trackers to corporations trying to solve more complex issues in healthcare.

“The whole healthcare space has been seeing a lot more interest from investors,” Nurx CEO Hans Gangeskar advised Mashable. “A lot of VCs are trying to make their bets in healthcare, in telehealth.” 

The proper buyers

A number of years on, corporations engaged on these issues are gaining sufficient important mass to spur extra entrepreneurs and extra funding. When buyers see one thing that is working — whether or not it is a meals supply service or a tampon subscription — they need extra of it. Even if the 89 percent male enterprise capitalists in Silicon Valley have been sluggish to catch on, as female founders and investors have testified

“What you need as an investor and as an entrepreneur is a few role models in a space that make you feel like you can succeed in that space,” von Bidder stated. “That’s what you’ve seen in the last couple of years.” 

Jesse Draper is one investor who was forward of the development. Draper runs Halogen Ventures, which invests in shopper tech corporations with feminine founders. Draper invested within the tampon-related corporations Flex and L. in addition to the sensible breast pump producer Naya

“We’ve been excited to see amazing companies pop up in the women’s health arena,” Draper advised Mashable. “It used to be we saw mainly fashion tech and beauty-oriented companies.” 

Unlike another buyers, Draper seeks out the appropriate firm making a product she’s fascinated with. In someday this year, she heard pitches from 5 new tampon corporations on the similar espresso store. 

“In the last two-and-a-half years, we’ve seen a ton of these companies,” Draper stated. “There definitely is a ripple effect.” 

The way forward for femtech

In 2016, the cohort of femtech startups that cropped up up to now half-decade began getting extra consideration from mainstream buyers. 

Lauren Schulte, the founding father of Flex, stated that her funding from Y Combinator appeared to be consultant of broader curiosity from the accelerator. 

“They’re definitely expanding into consumer products and women’s health,” Schulte stated. “We’re one of the flagship women’s health companies they’re invested in now.” 

Still, solely round zero.2 % of purposes to Y Combinator in its final three courses have come from corporations engaged on women’s health within the healthcare area (which excludes shopper know-how). 

“There definitely need to be more female VCs and angels,” Manalac, from Y Combinator, stated. 

Then the contraception tech will comply with. 

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