By Isabella Schmitt, RAC, director of regulatory affairs at Proxima CRO
When you think of Femtech, you probably think of over-the-counter products for women, such as tampons and pads, and you’re not wrong, but there is more to Femtech than what you see at the grocery store. It also includes software and technologies that enhance the health and wellbeing of women. Femtech goes beyond period tracker apps and includes studies and technologies for PCOS, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and more.
But…Femtech has been a largely understudied, underserved, and underfunded industry for years. However, now with more and more life-changing products hitting the market, and with women speaking up about their experience, it’s experiencing rapid growth. BIS Research forecasts that by 2030 the sector will hit $3.04 billion. So, why is it still so challenging to get these products funded?
Investors in the healthcare industry are still predominantly men, so there is a lack of education and understanding as to why these products are needed. This hurdle presents an untapped opportunity in the space for new investors: women.
There are many female entrepreneurs launching new businesses but sitting on the other side of the investment table is usually men. Only 12% of decision maker venture capitalists are women. Plus, given that only a small percentage of VC partners are female, an imbalance of power decides where the money flows. It’s time for women to tear down the barriers and biases and educate their male counterparts on Femtech as a viable investment opportunity. But to do that, they need to be seated on the same side of the table.
Now, of course, men are cognitively capable of understanding these concepts, but they lack the lived experience of women. Men don’t have babies; they don’t use period tracker apps; they certainly don’t suffer the monthly cramps associated with periods, especially of those with endometriosis; they don’t have PCOS; they don’t get pap smears; HPV won’t kill them; and diseases like Alzheimer’s and heart disease affect them differently. Women inherently have a better understanding of how these products will benefit them, which allows them to better understand the story told, increasing the chance the product will be funded and brought to market.
We need women to be involved to move these products and this industry along, which means we need women to step into the investment community. Until more women step up to the investment table, women founders will need to find ways to connect with their male counterparts through sharing personal stories or finding some level of relatability when pitching a Femtech product. It has to be more than just how a specific product will help women; it has to be how these products can be life-changing for women. It need to touch on how these products can improve the lives of wives, daughters, granddaughters, sisters, and mothers.
There are many innovative Femtech solutions in development – all ready to improve life for future generations of women. Now, we now need a pipeline of female investors to not only fund these innovations and help bring them to market but educate their male colleagues about the benefits from both a health and financial perspective.
Isabella Schmitt currently serves as the Director of Regulatory Affairs at Proxima Clinical Research, Inc.