Femtech market has potential but struggles to score investor dollars

A new report from PitchBook projects solid growth in the industry, but also notes challenges in exits.
By Laura Lovett
01:46 pm
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Women’s health startups are starting to garner a lot of attention. However, a new report out of PitchBook found that the industry is still struggling to catch the attention of VCs, and has produced few exits.

“Only six femtech exits were completed in 2019; however, this still represents a 64% increase in exit value compared to 2018. The largest exits in recent years include Progyny’s (NASDAQ: PGNY) $130.0 million IPO and Procter & Gamble’s (NYSE: PG) acquisition of This Is L. for $100.0 million. Progyny’s stock has roughly doubled in the eight months since it went public,” the report reads. 

Still, the authors of the report said that they see Femtech has a “solid growth outlook,” since there's still many unmet needs in women’s health where tech could help. 

As for funding, the report calculated that in 2019 femtech companies scored $592.1 million. That was down slightly from 2018’s $620.3 million. So far, in 2020, PitchBook recorded 57 deals and $376.2 million in venture dollars. 

The authors of the report did see market opportunity in the industry, noting that working-age women are 75% more likely to use digital tools for health than men. Researchers said that in the future they foresee opportunity in femtech companies going through the regulatory route. 

Another possible area of growth is full life cycle products. The report points out that the bulk of femtech products focus on an area of reproduction. 

“We believe most startups focused on healthcare & diagnostics, reproductive health, and pregnancy & family care remain single-product companies. As the industry matures, we expect product diversification potentially driven by M&A. Recently, we have seen pregnancy-focused apps begin tapping into the menopause market, suggesting an expanding opportunity for fertility startups,” authors wrote. 

Other places where the report projects possible growth is products for endometriosis, health management and menopause. 

The report noted that pitching to male investors still remained a hurdle for femtech companies. The reported pointed out that only 17% of startups have at least one female founder, and only 14% of VC investment dollars go towards female-led startups. 

WHY IT MATTERS 

Despite the fact that women account for half of the population, only about 3% of digital health venture dollars are going into the space, according to a Rock Health report

Historically representation in women’s health has been a challenge. It wasn’t until 1994 that the U.S. National Institutes of Health mandated that women be included in clinical trials. 

However, many entrepreneurs in digital health are pitching technology as a way to get more resources to women and help promote representation.

THE LARGER TREND 

This year we’ve seen some later services femtech funding rounds. For example, in July Kindbody, a women's health startup combining virtual care with face-to-face visits, raised $32 million in Series B funding. 

Female-focused digital clinic Maven announced a $45 million Series C in February, building on its $27 million Series B round. 

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