Opinions expressed by <em>Entrepreneur</em> contributors are their own. </p><div> <p><a target="_blank" href="https://www.entrepreneur.com/en-gb/science-technology/bringing-femtech-into-the-mainstream-vc-interest-grows/421915" rel="follow noopener">Femtech</a>, which focuses on technologies to automate, improve and expand female-centered healthcare solutions, is rapidly gaining worldwide attention. This is particularly true in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's recent controversial decision around reproductive rights.
The term “femtech” has only been around since 2016, but the industry has made huge strides since entrepreneur Ida Tin coined the phrase. According to McKinsey, the femtech market value ranges from $500 million up to $1 billion, depending on how broadly the term is applied, and forecasts project a double-digit CAGR.
Recent Pitchbook estimates show that more than 800 companies fall under the femtech umbrella. Many of these companies were founded in the past few years, and multiple unicorns are already taking the industry by storm.
The femtech revolution
Femtech is poised to start a true uprising that will entirely disrupt the healthcare system as we know it. Even now, companies are making landmark breakthroughs in addressing stigmatized topics like female sexual wellness and menstrual health and delivering culturally sensitive, personalized care to marginalized populations.
The global femtech market is expected to grow to at least $10.1 billion by 2028, an 11% CAGR. Reports show that VC investment into femtech startups has soared to over $1 billion in 2021. In addition, the severe underfunding of female health research (only 4% of all healthcare R&D) leaves the door wide open for continued growth, expansion and innovation.
There’s considerable potential for the development of breakthrough technologies that can permanently disrupt the market. The extreme consumer interest, coupled with the solid growth outlook and currently underdeveloped market, creates a perfect environment for lucrative new investment opportunities and innovative startups.
The industry is on the cusp of explosive growth, so there is still time for entrepreneurs to step in and become leaders in this revolution. It’s important to remember that the femtech space will continue to become more competitive, so here are five tips for launching a successful femtech startup:
1. Put product quality first
Your initial launch doesn’t have to be perfect, but you do have to be willing to accept criticism and constructive feedback that will help you improve. It’s best to get a working prototype into the hands of testers who are part of your target demographic so that you can start gathering data about what works and what doesn’t. Even if you think you know what consumers will want and what should be better, customers will often surprise you with their wants and needs.
Throughout development and implementation, be sure you have effective, quantifiable methods in place for measuring quality and efficacy. Incorporate metrics like customer reviews, beta testing, clinical evidence and academic research to get a holistic picture of how to improve product quality.
2. Attract an experienced team
When possible, attract qualified women to help develop a product. Not only does having a team of women make your startup more attractive to consumers and investors, but it gives your business more credibility.
Remember that, as a founder, it is not your job to be “good at everything.” Take an honest look at your strengths and weaknesses, and then seek out team members with complementary strengths to create a well-rounded group of experts.
Above all, make sure your team shares a common vision for your product. When everyone in the company is pointed toward the same goal, your product is far more likely to succeed.
3. Take all possible precautions to protect user data
Data privacy is a huge concern across all industries, but it’s particularly critical for industries like finance and medicine because of the extremely personal, identifiable data that customers are trusting you with. It’s essential to invest the necessary time and resources into cybersecurity and data protection.
The femtech industry deals with highly sensitive data, so any leaks or bad PR about data security are a death sentence for your startup. This is especially true as female reproductive health has come under fire in recent months, making women more concerned than ever about their privacy.
4. Have a memorable diversifier
Your company needs a key differentiator that makes your product or service memorable compared to the competition. This doesn’t mean that you should spend the majority of your time comparing your brand to competitors, but it does mean that you need a strong commitment to separating your company from the herd.
Study all of the existing products from competitors, and make sure you’re offering something that’s more technologically advanced or efficient. Other successful strategies can include providing a better customer experience, looking for ways to build into new markets and maintaining a passion for constant improvement.
5. Listen to positive and negative feedback
A common pitfall that founders across all industries can fall victim to is being blind to the faults of their product. When you spend so much time painstakingly developing your product and brand, it can be easy to dismiss seemingly small issues or overlook problems that are clear to someone not directly involved with the product.
Throughout development, ask users what they need and how they wish your product worked. Listen carefully to those who love your product, but listen just as closely to the ones who stopped using it so you can improve. It can be difficult to accept criticism of a concept you’ve worked so hard on, but learning this skill is essential for all successful entrepreneurs.
Public awareness is at an all-time high. It’s time to act.
In previous years, the slow growth of femtech was mainly because so much of female healthcare was locked behind a door of stigma, taboo and forced silence. So, while there was always a demand, it was not easy to overcome those barriers to adoption.
Now, there are public conferences and accessible talks that focus solely on women’s health, including FemTech Forum, Fertility Innovation Summit and the Reproductive Health Innovation Summit. There are also new influencers and thought leaders, like women’s health advocate Estrella Jaramillo and Madorra CEO Holly Rockweiler.
Femtech has shown immense promise, and consumers have indicated that they now want and need this technology more than ever. The femtech revolution is already underway, and now is the perfect time for VCs and entrepreneurs to embrace the future and find new opportunities to change the world.