Topic: Why we need femtech
Siddhi Pandey, an assistant professor of economics, always had a regular period. Then, in March last year, it all changed. “I started experiencing irregular periods after the covid-induced lockdown and work from home began,” she says. So, she turned to My Calendar, an application that helps women track their menstrual cycle, including ovulation and fertile days. “I wanted to assess the extent of irregularity to determine whether there was reason to worry,” says Pandey, who has never used an app to track her period before this one.
Period apps like My Calendar are perhaps the best-known segment for femtech, a relatively recent umbrella term for products and services that use technology to cater to women’s needs, specifically those concerning health and wellness. While mobile phone apps that keep track of fertility and pregnancy account for more than 50% of the femtech market, the term, first coined in 2016 by Ida Tin, co-founder and CEO of menstruation-tracking app Clue can be applied to multiple tools, wearables and applications that focus on general health, wellness, fertility, pregnancy, sexual health, female pleasure, feminine hygiene, diseases, and more.
A September 2020 report, published by Dublin-based market research store, Research and Markets, points out that the global femtech market generated a revenue of $820.6 million in 2019 and is estimated to grow at CAGR 12.65 per cent, reaching over $3.04 billion by the end of 2030. Currently, there are over 200 femtech start-ups globally, most of which are run by women, points out the same report. However, “despite having huge potential, the femtech industry is still immensely underfunded, accounting for only 1.4% aggregated capital that flows into healthcare.”
Dr Shubhra Jain, who is on the advisory board of the FemTech Collective, one of the largest global networks for people in the women’s health tech industry, points out that femtech companies are often perceived as niche with a relatively small market. “This is not true. It is close to 50% of the world’s population; that is far from niche,” says the San Francisco-based Dr Jain. One challenge the industry faces is this: considerable gender imbalance in the investor community. “It is hard to pitch a femtech opportunity to a bunch of old men in the room who don’t understand the need for the product,” says Dr Jain, a physician and active investor in global healthcare technology companies, adding that this speaks of a broader inequality and underrepresentation of women in workplaces.
Topic Discussed: Why we need femtech