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This year is setting records for femtech funding

Funding for businesses geared toward women’s health didn’t crack the $100 million mark until 2013, and the term “femtech” didn’t exist until 2016. But investors are starting to pay attention to the sector, and this year is on pace to set records.

Technology catering to women’s health hasn’t historically received much venture capital funding—but that’s starting to change.

The term “femtech” didn’t even come into existence until late 2016, when Ida Tin, the founder of menstrual tracking app Clue, came up with the word to describe a sector that had started to pick up momentum. Femtech refers to a host of technologies and products that are designed for women’s health, including businesses focused on period care, pregnancy & childbirth, aging & menopause, fertility management and sexual health.

Five years ago, funding flowing into the global femtech sector had barely cracked $100 million total. By 2016, the year “femtech” became a recognized term for an established industry, both capital invested and deal count had risen considerably from earlier years. And the current year has already collected significantly more VC funding in the space than any year in at least the last decade, according to PitchBook data:

The rise of funding for femtech startups is long overdue. Women make up just about 49.5% of the world’s population. And 80% of household healthcare spending is done by women, per data from research firm Frost & Sullivan. However, throughout history women’s health has taken a backseat to men’s health. It wasn’t until 1993 that the FDA started allowing all women to participate in drug-testing studies, and since then, research has shown that medical institutions still use mostly male participants to avoid controlling for complications such as women’s menstrual cycles. Partly as a result of the lack of research on women’s bodies, very little funding goes toward discovering and marketing treatments specifically for women.

Even this year, which is set to see more than $400 million funneled into femtech businesses, two male-oriented health companies have each raised more financing than any single femtech startup. Ro (fka Roman), which sends erectile dysfunction drugs directly to consumers, brought in $88 million in September. And Hims, which provides treatments geared toward male skin, hair and sexual issues, has raised a total of $90 million this year.

If founders like Ida Tin have anything to do with it, venture capitalists will pour more and more money into femtech businesses as the years go on, helping female-focused companies and their customers take care of their health. At least two VC firms are dedicated exclusively to funding women’s health enterprises. Astarte Ventures invests in companies centered on the health and wellbeing of women and children, and Portfolia describes itself as a “femtech fund.”

One of Astarte’s portfolio companies is Maven, a digital health platform for women that raised $27 million in September to expand into breast-milk delivery. Other femtech startups that have brought in funding this year include Lola, which provides subscription-based delivery of organic tampons, Flo, which makes a period-tracking app, and Future Family, a business that offers reproductive healthcare services.

Some other companies that have raised funding in the last few years are Nurx, which provides a birth control delivery platform, and Natural Cycles, the developer of a fertility tracking app.

By 2025, femtech is estimated to reach a market size of up to $50 billion, according to a study from Frost & Sullivan. That number, combined with the wide variety of female-focused businesses entering the scene, all make for a compelling argument that investors should open their eyes to the big business of femtech.

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