The Women at the front of the emerging Female Health Tech market
2017 was a big year for FemTech. 2018 is poised to be even bigger.
Heck, the word was only invented a few years ago, a time when technology almost completely ignored the needs of female consumers. But the tide is changing. More and more entrepreneurs are moving into the women’s healthcare and sexual wellness space via tech. And it’s not just about sex toys - we’ve seen tech solutions for fertility, cycle tracking, pelvic floor weakness, and other common health problems.
We’re not the only ones that think so either: Forbes called it ‘The New Year of optimism for Femtech’. This year has been touted as the year of ‘vagina-nomics’. Many women, fed up with the lack of innovation, have started companies themselves and come up with their own solutions. It’s about time that tech caught up with the other half the human population.
It’s been exciting to see female health tech emerge that is bridging this gap and finally focussing on women’s needs and lifestyles. So, allow us to introduce you to some of the of femtech’s front-runners.
1) Ida Tin, CEO and co-founder of Clue
The first person to actually coin the term “femtech”, Ida Tin launched Clue, a period tracking app back in 2013 when investment in female health tech was virtually nonexistent. The app now has more than 5 million users and the team at Clue are committed to moving science and health research forward, having partnered with researchers at Stanford, Columbia, and Oxford universities.We love that Ida refuses to dumb down the information and technology available to the Clue community because too many apps are “patronising” towards women.
2) Kate Moyle, psychosexual therapist and co-founder of Pillow
Kate has her very own fan base within the Elvie offices and for good reason. Alongside her thriving London-based psychosexual and relationship therapy practice, Kate has helped create Pillow, a love and intimacy education platform for couples with dozens of expertly designed, short and fun guided audio exercises. With Pillow, tech doesn’t have to be a third wheel in our relationships and can actually benefit love and intimacy.Plus, she’s all about ditching the taboos around female pleasure: “intimate health and pleasure are still a part of being human and we shouldn't be embarrassed about that. The clitoris is the only part of the human body designed purely for pleasure with no other function, so that must be saying something.”
Elina founded and created Natural Cycles, the only certified contraceptive app, with her partner when they couldn't find a proven form of natural contraception. Unlike other fertility tracking apps that use algorithms to calculate the fertile window of your cycle, Natural Cycles asks you to measure your temperature when you wake up and log it in the app. It’s a great example of using information from our bodies alongside tech to provide accurate and usable insights.Elina has an impressive track record, having been on the team that discovered the Higgs Boson at Cern. Now she’s using her PhD in Physics to give women more choice when it comes to contraception and equalise the responsibility in relationships where “the burden is very much on the woman.”
4) Alexandra Fine, CEO, and Janet Lieberman, CTO, founders of Dame Products
It’s relatively well known that many women (up to 80%) don’t orgasm from vaginal intercourse alone, so why are so many sex toys penis-shaped? According to Alex, who's also a clinical psychologist, “it’s a misconception that largely stems from the fact we’ve mostly had men designing sex toys and, well, God forbid women would find anything other than penises pleasurable.” It’s hard to believe that it took so long to get women involved in the action!Alex and Janet Lieberman, Dame’s product engineer, struck gold when they became the first company to successfully fund a sex toy on Kickstarter with their second vibrator, Fin. With each of their products, Alex and Janet are rethinking sex toys in a way that doesn’t put size and power on a pedestal, but enhances female pleasure and builds intimacy for couples.
5) Tania Boler, CEO and co-founder of Elvie
Tania has spent the last 20 years dedicated to improving women’s health. Technology has the potential to improve lives on a global scale, but as Tania points out, “when it comes to women, this potential has been largely overlooked.” Important women’s health issues have lacked innovation for too long because no one wants to talk about them. But Tania has seen a change in attitudes since launching Elvie Trainer: “At the start there were naysayers that didn’t think women would talk openly about the pelvic floor and bladder control but now we have celebs like Gwyneth Paltrow recommending us and we’ve regularly featured in glossy magazines.”Pelvic floor health isn’t the only real-world need for women that was overdue an update to match women’s modern lifestyles and social attitudes: “Until recently, most consumer tech aimed at women was pink or made to look like jewellery. Now there is the realisation that women appreciate and want the best technology available.”
Women don’t just deserve better technology, the increasing number of femtech companies and products available are proving that we are demanding it. As women start taking the reins, by leading STEM research and femtech companies, we will see the momentum grow. Will the world’s first global women’s consumer tech brand emerge by the end of the decade? Watch this space.