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Femtech

Flo raises millions as femtech frenzy continues

A new generation of startups have worked to launch affordable and sophisticated female-focused digital tools in recent years--attracting mainstream investors to the burgeoning femtech industry.

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A new generation of startups have worked to launch affordable and sophisticated female-focused digital tools in recent years—attracting mainstream investors to the burgeoning femtech industry.

The latest example in the space is Flo, creator of a period-tracking app, which announced Thursday that it has secured a $50 million Series B co-led by VNV Global and Target Global. Flo runs a subscription-based model for more than 200 million users and aims to achieve $100 million in ARR by the end of this year. Founded in 2016, the London-based company is now valued at $800 million.

2021 is a landmark year for the femtech industry, with global VC investment crossing the $1 billion mark for the first time, according to PitchBook data. When Ida Tin, co-founder and chairwoman of Clue, a female health tracking app, coined the term “femtech” in 2016, funding for such startups hadn’t even hit half of this year’s total so far.

 

“While the growth is evident, it is not skyrocketing in comparison to the broader health and fitness category,” said Cath Everett, VP of product and content at Flo. “To fuel innovation, massive investments need to be made in the future,” she said.

Secular drivers have propelled new growth opportunities in the space, including increased representation of women in the VC industry, rising awareness and acceptance of women’s health issues, and a growing prevalence of infectious diseases among women in some African and Asian countries, said Kaia Colban, an emerging tech analyst at PitchBook.

“The femtech space has historically been underinvested, and while that’s a shame, it also means that there is a lot of opportunity and growth ahead,” said Laura Chambers, CEO of Willow, a manufacturer of cordless breast pumps. Founded in 2014, Willow closed its oversubscribed Series C round at $87 million earlier this year.

Chambers said that traditional healthtech investors are really starting to appreciate the fact that medical devices can achieve success in a direct-to-consumer model.

This week, London-based Elvie raised an additional £12.7 million (about $17.5 million) from investors including IPGL and Hiro Capital. The startup develops health products geared toward women, such as a breast pump and a pelvic floor exerciser. Another notable VC deal in the space was the $62 million Series C raised by Kindbody in June. Backed by investors including GV and Alumni Ventures, the company is now valued at $612 million.

But investor diversity in the industry is still a concern.

“When you have a more diverse investment team, those investors can more quickly appreciate opportunities and segments that they may not have intuitively understood before,” said Chambers.

Although many entrepreneurs recognize the opportunity to use modern technology to create products for women, lacking investor interest and minimal female-focused medical research have kept the femtech industry somewhat marginalized, according to a PitchBook analyst note on the industry.

“Women’s health is currently under-researched, underfunded, and often overlooked,” said Everett. This is in large part due to the fact that we are still catching up: It wasn’t until 1993 that the National Institutes of Health mandated that clinical research studies receiving federal funding must include women and minorities.

“VCs that do a good job of adding diversity to their teams will have a leg up on finding amazing pockets of growth as femtech becomes mainstream,” Chambers said.

Featured image by kanyakits/Getty Images

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    Written by Priyamvada Mathur
    Priyamvada Mathur writes about venture capital at PitchBook.

    She is an Indian chartered accountant and has studied economics and journalism.
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