What is femtech and why you need to know about it
Did you know that most smartphones and car seat belts have been designed for men, and that Google’s speech-recognition software has been proven to be 70% more accurate when recognising male speech?
Don’t get angry. We’re getting even.
In recent years, female entrepreneurs have made impressive progress to balance out gender disparities and create products and services that serve to enhance the health and wellbeing of women around the world, giving way to a new industry known as femtech, or ‘female technology’.
Femtech covers everything from fertility solutions, menstruation, pre and postnatal care, sexual wellness and chronic conditions and hormonal disorders, like endometriosis.
A great example of femtech is ModiBody, an Australian company which creates leak-proof underwear for anyone with periods, perspiration, light bladder leakage and pregnancy.
The idea was created by founder Kristy Chong after she experienced light bladder leakage while training for a marathon. The company was created after the mother of two identified the problem and recognised that the traditional solutions on the market were ugly, uncomfortable and dangerous to the planet.
This year the company announced that all employees were entitled to paid leave for menstruation, menopause and miscarriage, in addition to their current sick leave entitlements.
Read the announcement here.
Many examples of femtech want to educate and destigmatize issues for women and girls, as well as promote sustainability.
A great example of this are menstrual cups which reduce waste and provide an affordable option for women around the world, and period tracker apps which aim to educate women about their cycle.
Stephanie Weiss is a 23 year old founder of Aurla, a medtech startup that uses a 3D printer to create custom-built breast prostheses for women who have undergone a mastectomy.
“I feel like femtech is definitely up and coming in the startup ecosystem around the world,” said the Sydney-based CEO.
Stephanie believes femtech is an important industry which can break down gender inequality and provide an opportunity for female founders to use their knowledge and experience to launch impactful businesses.
“There are so many things that could be created to make our lives easier,” she said during a panel discussion hosted by the Accelerator for Enterprising Girls at the University of Technology, Sydney.
But many femtech founders have confessed it can be challenging pitching to male investors who can’t relate the problem or even find the topics uncomfortable, something entrepreneur and now investor Noga Edelstein knows all too well.
“People are more inclined to invest in things they’re familiar with and can relate to, and since most VCs are men, this has resulted in a significant funding gap for startups founded by women and targeted at women. It is clear that to improve funding outcomes for women, we need more women making investment decisions,” said Edelstein.
In 2013, Noga co-founded UrbanYou – a marketplace to book trusted, verified home service professionals on-demand, and understands what it’s like to be the only woman in the room, and offers this advice.
“When I was capital raising for UrbanYou I was usually pitching to rooms of middle-aged white male investors, who couldn’t relate to the problem of working full time while also being primary carer and keeping the house clean. I realised that I needed to convince them of the business opportunity through the numbers – how fast we were growing, how big the market size was, and how much money they would make,” she said.