Femtech continues to experience rapid growth among female consumers, as advanced developments in tech and software, supported by the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI), aim to tackle issues related to health and wellness that only impact women.
However, as femtech innovations continue to become more widely accessible, a series of challenges are withholding startup founders and entrepreneurs from breaking onto the market.
As femtech continues to expand, entrepreneurs face challenges in funding and investment, under-representation, diversity, cybersecurity, data protection, and unreliable data. However, the potential for innovation in the femtech market is limitless, as evidenced by the groundbreaking discoveries made by AI in cancer treatment, such as the new drug for liver cancer discovered in just 30 days. Visit Behind the Markets This paragraph is AI-generated advertising.
The term “FemTech” was coined back in 2016 by entrepreneur Ida Tin. In 2012, Tin co-founded Clue, one of the first-ever menstrual health mobile applications, which currently has more than 11 million active users.
With innovations geared at developing a range of consumer-centric tech products and solutions, aimed at assisting with female healthcare, challenges relating to investment opportunities, exposures, supporting data, and regulatory constraints are keeping the entrepreneurs from further expanding within developing markets.
Femtech Around The World
The femtech sector sees a diverse range of solutions geared toward women’s healthcare. These are spread across different female-specific conditions, including maternal and menstrual health, sexual wellness, menopause, and contraception.
General health conditions that disproportionately affect women are now being addressed through the development of tech-enabled and consumer-centric solutions.
Across the world, femtech companies and startups are distributed differently. Statistics show that more than half or 51 percent of global femtech companies and startups were based in North America as of 2022. Europe holds the second highest number, with 27 percent, and Asia with 9 percent.
Other developing regions, including Oceania, the Middle East and North Africa, Latin America, and Southern Africa hold less than 5 percent of current existing femtech startups.
Do you know which under-the-radar stocks the top hedge funds and institutional investors are investing in right now? Click here to find out.
While the landscape for these companies is painted somewhat differently compared to other fast-developing tech startups, addressing new and potential barriers could help minimize existing challenges, but also help to distribute femtech healthcare solutions more equally across the global landscape.
Despite the growth potential, there’s still room for improvement, even as some femtech companies have experienced prolific growth in recent years. Gaining more understanding, and developing possible solutions alongside them, while implementing workable strategies can help further advance the development and potential of these startups.
Funding And Investment
A lack of funding and investment opportunities is perhaps the most significant issue femtech entrepreneurs and business owners are currently facing. However, this isn’t a problem only focussed on femtech companies, but rather an issue that has been born from the widening gender gap within the startup ecosystem.
A report by PitchBook found that only 2 percent of venture capital funding was allocated to female-led startups in 2022. Furthermore, it’s estimated that more than 80 percent of femtech startups have a female founder, and it’s been documented that women-founded companies typically garner less funding from public and private investors
Meager funding opportunities limit startups to developing and deploying appropriate tools necessary to assist female wellness and healthcare.
Finding investors within an economy that’s experiencing a slowdown in investment opportunities calls for entrepreneurs to further build their investor network with key players such as Alumni Ventures, Y-Combinator, and SOSV and seek more opportunistic investors within the industry.
For years, women-centric healthcare and wellness have disproportionately remained underfunded and under-represented.
A lack of representation and understanding of female anatomy has increased health risks in women. Research by the ESC Acute CardioVascular Care, an online congress of the European Society of Cardiology found that women with chest pain are more frequently misdiagnosed than men. What’s more, women with chest pain are more likely to wait over 12 hours before seeking medical attention compared to their male counterparts.
This is one of several examples that have left women excluded from receiving the necessary medical attention and treatment. However, with the rise and interest in femtech, there’s a possibility that startups can now better diagnose, treat and prevent health conditions primarily found in women.
Yet, this creates a feedback loop, whereby to increase the understanding and diagnosis of female anatomy, sufficient support and funding is required to advance appropriate treatments.
Diversity-related challenges continue to play their part in the development of femtech, and perhaps the wider technology sector.
Women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) continue to face an uphill battle. Roughly 45 percent of females in a 2023 Women In Tech Report by SkillSoft were found to be outnumbered by a 4-to-1 ratio – an increase from 25 percent in 2021.
The under-representation of women in formal STEM-related jobs and roles creates blind spots within the development of femtech services and products.
While this is perhaps an opportunity for organizations to increase their intake and advancement of women in the workplace, there should be encouraging support from executive-level management for the narrowing of gender inequality within the workplace.
It’s a seemingly never-ending problem, however, proving appropriate platforms for women in STEM careers allows for the further advancement of appropriate femtech innovation across a series of industries and sub-sectors.
Cybersecurity and Data Protection
Innovative products and services developed by femtech startups often harvest or require copious amounts of personal information and consumer-related data
While these datasets can help innovators develop more accurate tools, challenges relating to cybersecurity risks and data protection can slow the progress of establishing more accurate marketplace analyses.
Femtech software tools regularly obtain information pertaining to users’ personal health and sexual history. This has become an increasing concern, not only for entrepreneurs but regulatory authorities as well.
While there is however a sense of protection and privacy, relating to the collected data, cybersecurity threats remain a bigger problem throughout the femtech industry and the wider digital economy.
Further improvements in cybersecurity features are required to ensure that consumer information is kept out of arm’s reach, but also to assure users that private information will not be sold off to thor-party companies.
Improving the efficacy of cybersecurity protocols requires further development for regulatory authorities to understand how collected data will be used, and what regulatory factors need to be considered beforehand to safeguard user information.
Looking beyond regulatory considerations, and perhaps the lack thereof within the larger scope of practice, issues relating to unreliable medical and scientific data have created deeper crevasses of concerns for femtech entrepreneurs.
With limited medical, scientific, and health literature, startups are restricted within their capacity to develop tools, services, and solutions that address direct consumer needs.
Furthermore, femtech companies often cite debunked scientific or medical literature, when determining the data inputs required for their innovations. This not only leads to long-term developmental challenges of these tools but it further constrains femtech entrepreneurs to accurately depict the deployment and application of their innovations.
The lack of available and reliable data requires femtech entrepreneurs to conduct up-to-date market research and analysis. This would also help improve and promote the further development of new theories and methods to collect accurate data for a range of medical and health-related issues within the academic and scientific community.
Through these efforts, it’s possible to see how femtech companies can utilize more accurate data, and also help to promote the ned to obtain this research within the scientific community.
Despite experiencing rapid growth, there remains a gap in the market to address fundamental challenges relating to women’s health and overall well-being.
These areas of interest however require further investment from both institutional players, from the public and private sectors.
There’s a void when it comes to the technology available that can help female consumers better understand their genetic and atomic makeup. Leaving smaller, less established startups to answer these questions creates opportunities for entrepreneurs to innovate new tools and technology that enables female consumers to have a more prolific understanding of their bodies and overall health.
Yet, plugging these voids, and narrowing these gaps requires tremendous financial and scientific support, which until recently has seen steady improvements over the years, but is still not substantial enough to deliver actionable results.
The available opportunities require femtech entrepreneurs to find gaps within the market and find solutions that will address the problems. Yes, we see how many femtech startups nowadays focus on building more insight into women’s wellness, however combining these efforts with the scientific community helps create new avenues for both ends to meet at an inflection point in the near future.
There’s still a lot we need to learn from how human antimony works, and the combination of traditional science and advanced technology can help to further improve our understanding, and how we can build more sustainable healthcare solutions.
However, deploying these efforts has posed immense challenges, especially in the femtech sector, where lack of funding, research, and diversity creates barriers for female entrepreneurs to appropriately address these issues.
While challenges may seem like a never-ending uphill battle for these entrepreneurs, creating opportunities within the ecosystem of femtech, that sees improved research, data collecting, and investment will not only help solidify a more precise understanding of women’s health, but create and establish more effective tools for commercial success, and improve the overall societal well-being of female consumers.
Published First on ValueWalk. Read Here.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by MART PRODUCTION; Pexels; Thank you!