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Femtech, Officially Not Niche By $1T

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The newly published FemTech Landscape Report 2021 examines the femtech industry landscape and burgeoning trends with new, original data. The whitepaper, co-authored by FemTech Focus and Coyote Ventures, intends to strengthen women’s health and wellness innovation initiatives, and gives credence to the implication that women’s health is everyone’s health. 

Utilizing resources like Crunchbase, the authors created the largest public databases of femtech startups, exits and market sizes, and analyzed the data to report innovation and investment trends. Key takeaways from the research uncovered in the FemTech Landscape Report 2021 include: 

  • The women’s health market size is estimated to reach $1.19 trillion by 2027 globally.
  • There have been 105 femtech company exits *to date with an average exit value of $301 million.
  • The most common subsections of female health (51 percent of the femtech startup landscape) include menstruation, maternal health, fertility and sexual wellness.
  • Only 1 percent of existing femtech companies address chronic women’s health conditions, despite it being the largest share of the femtech market ($218 billion).

The report defines femtech as innovations that improve women, females’ and girls’ health and wellness by addressing conditions that solely, disproportionately, or differently affect them. The term “femtech” was coined in 2016 by Ida Tin, founder of the menstrual cycle tracking app Clue, to emphasize the use of technology to improve women’s health. 

While other reports have valued femtech at $60 billion, this new whitepaper shows that the women’s health industry will reach $1.19 trillion globally by 2027. Other recent research has shown the menopause market alone could reach $600 billion (Crunchbase). This demonstrates that women’s health is actually undervalued by almost 20x due to the more narrow definition of femtech. Emerging femtech leaders are working hard to show that an industry typically perceived as a niche is actually a priority with a surplus of investment and growth.

As of July 2021, FemTech Focus and Coyote Ventures have a database of 657 active women’s health companies globally. The most recent database can be found here. Crunchbase was utilized in the creation of the FemTech Focus startup database. 

As there is no standard definition of femtech, there is also no standard way to subcategorize the industry. In the whitepaper, two ways to segment femtech are by product type (such as consumer packaged goods, also known as CPG) or by health topic (such as maternal health). The graph below shows the percentage of active femtech companies by product type, and elucidates that 25 percent of femtech startups are producing CPG. Menstrual hygiene and sexual wellness contribute to CPGs the most with 38 percent and 18 percent of the total count, respectively.

 
Bar chart with the percentage of total femtech companies in each sector
 

The analysis of the women’s health market size includes 97 health conditions that solely, disproportionately, or differently affect girls, females and women. These conditions fall into the 23 subsections of women’s health, the most common of which being addressed by these global, active companies are menstruation, maternal health, fertility and sexual wellness. These four areas account for 51 percent of the total femtech startup landscape. They are by no means saturated or solved for women globally. Similar to the rest of women’s health, they are still in desperate need of research, investment and innovation. 

 
Bar chart showing the number of femtech companies within subsections of female health
 

“Recognizing women as equal humans means keeping us (humans with vulvas) healthy and alive and even having the right to experience pleasure–going beyond just making sure that we can have babies.”

– Jessica Karr, General Partner at Coyote Ventures
 

Women’s health and wellness represent the next frontier of dedicated health care solutions. An increasing number of women in STEM and finance has led to an unprecedented increase in women’s health innovation. Women’s health is a $1 trillion+ market that has yet to be adequately addressed because women have historically and systemically been excluded from health care research and innovation. 

Women's health market share chart
 

Meanwhile, it has become a well-known fact that femtech founders face significant challenges while fundraising. Our company database shows that 80 percent of femtech founders are women. Global venture funding to female-founded companies fell significantly in 2020 to about 2.3 percent of dollars to female-only founders (Crunchbase). 

Venture capital continues to be a white male-dominated industry, where many of these investors focus on investing in their peers (typically a homogenous group), and investing in the problems they face in their own lives, which does not always reflect problems the rest of society may face. Furthermore, male investors may lack the understanding regarding problems in women’s health, and many founder stories have even shown that investors can become uncomfortable with the language used regarding women’s bodies. As pointed out by Rock Health, fertility startups have received a significant portion of total femtech funding, and one could imagine that fertility is an easier problem to sell since it affects men as well (Rock Health). 

Society has influenced women to not speak about their health: Consider the “taboo” of menstruation, menopause and women’s sexuality. There is typically not enough data to prove that issues that disproportionately affect women even exist—and this is magnified with untold statistics on exits and uncertain market sizes. Founders have to do the research to create the logic to present to investors, but this is extremely taxing on resources, especially in the early stage.

 

“When I first told my peers I wanted to start a femtech venture fund, they asked: How big is the market? How many companies? What about exits? I realized that not only did I not know these answers but neither did anyone else! With this data, venture funds can be formed, startups can fundraise, and the entire industry can stop being called niche. The data doesn’t lie; women’s health is anything but niche. It’s more like the best-kept secret in healthcare.”

– Brittany Barreto, Ph.D., General Partner at Coyote Ventures, Executive Director of FemTech Focus
 

Femtech exits are on the rise with 50 percent of all femtech exits occurring in the last five years. The year 2020 showed an unprecedented number of femtech exits with a total of 14. Meanwhile, 2021 has already shown a favorable number of exits with 10 exits at the time of the report’s publication (July 2021) and two exits occurring in the first two weeks of August (not included in the report’s analysis). Companies that were created after 2010 had an average time to exit of 4.5 years, while companies founded before 2010 averaged 13.5 years, indicating growing market potential.

 
line graph showing number of femtech exits per year from 1990 to 2021
 

Last year was the 10th straight year that female-founded companies exited faster than the broader market. Female CEOs have been exiting faster than their male counterparts as well (with the exception of 2018). We anticipate as more femtech companies reach unicorn status, like Maven Clinic, the appetite for large returns outweighs investors’ discomfort with women’s health.

The discussion in the whitepaper primarily centers on innovation in the U.S., and there are still women in other global markets yet to be reached. Often in developing countries, these efforts are focused on philanthropy and NGOs rather than innovation and entrepreneurship.

Beyond the business potential, these opportunities are about women’s lives. There is a social impact of femtech: gender equality.

You can find the full report here.


 
Brittany Barreto, Ph.D. and Co-founder of FemTech Focus, and General Partner at Coyote Ventures, Jessica Karr, General Partner of Coyote Ventures 
[Left] Brittany Barreto, Ph.D. and Co-founder of FemTech Focus, and General Partner at Coyote Ventures, [Right] Jessica Karr, General Partner at Coyote Ventures

ABOUT

Coyote Ventures logo

Coyote Ventures is a seed-stage venture fund in the U.S. investing in companies innovating in women’s health and wellness (femtech).

femtech focus logo

FemTech Focus is a 501c3 nonprofit organization founded to empower, equip and bring together health care professionals, life science entrepreneurs, and forward-thinking investors to revolutionize women’s health and wellness.

 

CONTACT

Learn more at www.FemTechFocus.org. Coyote Ventures may be reached at deals@coyote.ventures.

Additional Authors:

  • Mia Farnham – Coyote Ventures Venture Partner
  • Su Wern Khor – Coyote Ventures Venture Partner
  • Mariana Keymolen – FemTech Focus Social Media Manager
  • Alley Lyles – FemTech Focus Director of Marketing 
  • Brianna Cochran – Coyote Ventures Venture Fellow
  • Sangeetha Ranadeeve – Coyote Ventures Venture Fellow
  • Kala Pham – FemTech Focus Intern
  • Julie Hakim, MD – Cofounder & Medical Director FemTech Focus