By: Rachel Braun Scherl Co-Founder, Managing Partner & Chief Vagipreneur, SPARK Solutions for Growth
Did you have those conversations with your grandparents or parents when they tell you how different life used to be when they were kids. You know, “I used to walk 5 miles to school when I was your age” or “I can’t believe the music those kids listen to”. For the past many months, I kept feeling like that older generation as I watch and participate with joy as FemTech literally explodes — with companies, with transactions, with funding, with news stories, with deal after deal after deal.
If feels like a lifetime ago that my business partner and I spoke to fund after fund to raise money for a company whose flagship product was a patented blend of oils and extracts clinically proven to increase arousal, desire and satisfaction for women of all ages and life stages. Ultimately, we successfully raised tens of millions of dollars, but boy was it a long and lonely road. And for years after that, every founder I met had the same story — finding themselves in conversation after conversation with people who literally cringed at the word vagina or menstruation or incontinence or — gasp — anything to do with her/their pleasure.
But let’s face it. The need has always been there. FemTech has always provided big challenges requiring big solutions and representing HUGE opportunity. You can’t ignore the numbers and the opportunities they reveal (and this is just the tip of the iceberg):
50.8% of the U.S. population is female with close to 50% on a global level.
Women control as much of 85% of daily household spending and more than 80% of the health care for their families.
By 2025, people who experience menopause will make up 12% of the entire global population.
25 million adult Americans suffer from urinary incontinence, 75–80% of them are women.
About 10% to 15% of people with vaginas have never had an orgasm.
Even as recently as 5 years ago, those numbers and needs were still not enough to create a groundswell of interest. But now, every day we see another first, announce another financing, cheer the success of yet another founder, celebrate the closing of another Femtech or sextech focused fund in the space that I have living in, breathing and building businesses in for almost 15 years.
What has catalyzed this change — the rising tide has started to raise each and every boat. Evern a few years, the FemTEch investment flow looked like a triangle with the investors at the top and the many, many companies raised money on the bottom. But today, the top of the triangle is widening as we see more sources of capital, more companies getting funding and importantly, closing larger and larger rounds. What has catalyzed this change — is it a perfect storm or timing or sheer relentless on the part of founders. According to Nicole Leeds, Head of Marketing Strategy for Clue (you know the company whose founder created the name, FemTech), “What we have seen is a confluence of huge unmet needs, awareness of underfinanced areas and a new generation of founders”. Status quo-be damned. There are a bunch of new sheriffs and players in town. At this week’s Kisaco Research Women’s Health Innovation Summit, bringing together entrepreneurs, corporate partners, service firms and investors. Technology, strength in numbers and exits have lowered some of the barriers and increased the ability for key conversations to take place.
Take Amboy Ventures for example. In March 2021, the founding team announced their $45MM fund focused on investments in sextech, Femtech, wellness, telehealth among others. At the launch announcement, Carli Sapir, founding partner of Amboy Street Ventures, declared, “We believe billion dollar companies will emerge in order to bridge the gap between the underserved Sexual and Women’s Health Tech space and the needs of today’s society”. And no sooner did Amboy planting that flag, Maven, a company offering a comprehensive approach for women and families, raised $110 M in their Series D, putting the company in a rarely seen unicorn status for a company focused on women’s health. And don’t be fooled — Maven isn’t just a once-in-a-lifetime event in this exploding space. This Femtech fire is burning bright, with no signs of burning out. In the recent FemTech Landscape report prepared by FemTech Focus and Coyote Ventures, FemTech (defined as technology that improves women, female, and girls’ health and wellness by addressing conditions that solely, disproportionately, or differently affect them) is estimated to be a $1.186T market by 2027. This represents an astounding 1900% increase from the oft-quoted estimate from Frost & Sullivan only 3 years ago.
The FemTech Collective Market Report of 2021 weighed in on the momentum and excitement.
The current Femtech industry is now going mainstream after being considered a “niche” segment just a few years ago…. The “for women, by women” has taken off…
Today, FemTech Focus counts 657 femtech companies in its database. We have witnessed billions of dollars of funds raised, SPACs, liquidity event, licensing deals, strategic partnerships in this year alone. We have seen new corporate participants in the space who just a year or two ago showed no signs of venturing into this category sooner.
This FemTech fire continues to flare, the blaze continues to burn, this inferno continues to intensify — and any other fire analogy you can think of. So if you are watching from the sidelines, you might want to put on your turnout gear (that’s a fancy name for firefighter clothing — see how I weaved that in), jump in or risk being so far away from the fire that you don’t feel any of the heat.