25 April 2021|Business Growth, Latest Posts, Launching a business
By Katia Lang and Karina Vazirova, founders of FemTech Lab. Healthcare has been given a whole new meaning over the last year. People are seeing healthcare in a new light, welcoming the introduction of new solutions and medication with more open arms as the wellbeing and health of our family, friends, peers, colleagues – you name it – is deemed more valuable than ever.
The truth is that while healthcare is dominating the public spotlight right now, its importance has never been in flux. We’ve always needed access to healthcare services and pharmaceutical care, and we’ve always been entitled to receive the right medical treatments. In short, it has taken a global pandemic to shift the world’s view on the healthcare we all need and deserve.
Part of this changing mindset is the laser focus on innovation in the sector, notably from entrepreneurs who are jumping at the opportunity of carving out change in the industry and beyond. Innovation in healthcare has gone from being a worthwhile investment to a fundamental one across the world. The reparation of society depends on it, as does the development of the healthcare industry.
But healthcare has many branches. Some of these branches grow and flower more leaves as investors and governments water it with their money and resources. Other branches, notably women’s health, aren’t nurtured as much. As a result, its growth has been stalled over the years, becoming camouflaged by more prosperous healthcare areas. By merging into the background, women’s health has become a mysterious topic – not just in how it’s spoken about, but how it’s truly understood.
However, with taboo, comes those who strive to break taboos down. And recently, women have become more vocal and powerful in putting more pressure on businesses to produce and deliver female-centered solutions. Entrepreneurs, both male and female, have entered the market, building new solutions to advance women’s health.
A FemTech world of opportunity
The impact of female empowerment, coupled with the pandemic layering urgency on healthcare innovation, has made the VC industry wake up to the opportunities available in the women’s health space. And rightly so. Innovation in women’s health has reached a new era – with FemTech right at the centre. No longer is women’s health purely defined by reproductive health. Entrepreneurs in the FemTech space are expanding its definition beyond fertility, sparking interest in menopause, hormonal health, mental health, cardiovascular and immune health – to name a few.
The growing trend of personalised healthcare and the emergence of wearable technology have also elevated the importance of FemTech innovations. New women’s health solutions can meet the need for bespoke treatments and services, and fill the market void that exists today.
We believe that FemTech is going to be the new normal for any innovation in health and consumer product design in the future. It’s why we built FemTech Lab – an independent accelerator program for FemTech start-ups who are wanting to break into the healthcare space, but need help with fundraising and market access. On the 12-week program, FemTech entrepreneurs get to work with superstar experts, future-proof their product roadmap, design a winning go-to-market strategy, meet potential partners, and get in front of investors.
Overcoming FemTech’s identity struggle
For FemTech start-ups who are entering the market via business-to-business channels, adoption and cross-market entry can be tricky. Despite making strides in challenging how women’s health is defined, FemTech itself is facing its own identity struggle when presented to investors. Many interpret FemTech to be all about female entrepreneurs in the technology space, disconnecting it to healthcare when doing so. While female entrepreneurs make up a sizeable percentage of FemTech founders, it isn’t correct to assume that it’s an all-female venture.
In the male-dominated VC industry, there’s work to be done in defining FemTech and educating investors on what it stands for, as well as show them what it can bring to the healthcare sector. For FemTech entrepreneurs, this can be daunting. It’s why it’s important to bring together expertise from the entire ecosystem – including practicing clinicians, experienced business leaders and healthcare professionals – to help FemTech entrepreneurs make the best product and user experience decisions, and navigate uncertain waters.
Here are some key tips for FemTech entrepreneurs that we’ve learnt so far from our team of advisors:
- Build your team and network as it’s a lot easier together. There’s advice and community support available, so don’t be afraid to reach out.
- Look for funding early on. Don’t wait till you run out of money and motivation! This makes your start-up more attractive for investors too.
- Secure market validation by asking the market what it wants and tailoring your offering accordingly. Just because you think it’s necessary, and your friends think so too, it doesn’t mean it’s something people will buy.
- Gather opinions from healthcare professionals early on to save you a lot of work and potentially, disappointment. The idea may be strong but if it doesn’t solve the real healthcare problem, it’s best to know sooner rather than later.
- Once you’re certain of your product and who’s going to buy it, lean execution is key! For example, investing in UX mock-ups before jumping straight into hiring developers will help validate your product faster.
- Believe in what you’re doing, and it’ll make a big difference.
The end goal? By better catering to women’s health and wellness, FemTech can help unlock the power of women. It’s time for investors to get on board and join FemTech entrepreneurs on their journey to building a more balanced world.
About the Authors:
Karina is a Product Strategy, UX, AI & Automation expert. She has worked with disruptive startups in LegalTech and FinTech, and has led development of 30+ digital products in the US, Australia, UK and Europe.
Named as one of the Top 100 Women in Fintech in 2018 and 2019, Katia is a serial entrepreneur, well-known FinTech influencer and the original Founder of The Fintech Times – building it in four years to become a renowned global media brand.
With Karina’s product expertise within the technology industry, Katia’s entrepreneurial background in emerging sectors, and their combined passion for women’s health and empowerment, they’re on their way to change the world (again).