Tue, 16 May 2023 13:23:00 GMT
The FemTech Revolution is changing the way women, technology and the wider world collide. It’s fuelled by the brilliant women innovating in women’s wellness. At a recent event we hosted, three pioneers in their field shared their stories, including Dr. Somi Javaid from HerMD, Jessica Federer from Supernode Ventures and Joanna Christie from Gaia.
These founders and investors in this evolving ecosystem shared their secrets on the road to success and the hard-learned lessons which can easily be applied to many businesses.
Key takeaways included:
01. Tracking is the trigger
There’s a bittersweet truth about the fact that women led startups receiving only 1.9% of all VC funds in 2022 according to the latest PitchBook data, reported by TechCrunch. Even though this number is very disheartening, we are at least tracking these numbers which are triggering conversations on how to fix the problem.
A couple of years ago, we did not even know that such a problem existed, at least now, venture capitalists and investors are putting programmes in place to overcome the institutional patterns and thinking that are getting in the way of making unbiased business decisions. Another example of tracking triggering the solutions is from the US with clinical research. It was only 30 years ago that women and minorities were mandated to be included in clinical research in the US.
With better representation of women in clinical research comes better understanding of women-specific health problems which are now turning into a flood of innovations in this area.
02. From pushback to resilience
Based on data collected by First Round Capital, women-founded startups performed 63% better than all-men founded teams. I don’t find this surprising, because repeatedly across all industries we see how scarcity leads to new ways of thinking, creativity, and innovation.
Airbnb was founded by two roommates living in San Francisco who were struggling to pay their rent, so they rented out air mattresses in their living room during a conference when all hotels were booked out. Vertical farming came to life in urban areas where space is limited and expensive. Microfinance, which is one of the main sources of capital for female-founded start-ups, has been developed to provide small loans to businesses who otherwise does not have access to credit.
Rather than looking at success or the opportunity, women are asked more about the risks. Especially when it comes to fem-tech, there’s the added layer of difficulty from the audience – the majority of senior leaders in VCs are men. Storytelling skills really need to come into action when talking about tabooed female conditions to a room full of men. That is exactly why such start-up leaders have become experts in building captivating narratives, running effective businesses and demonstrating hard-to-say-no business results.
03. Everyone needs a community
The importance of building their communities was a theme that all the panellists mentioned throughout the conversation. Talking on some of the positive change that’s happening in the ecosystem, Dr. Somi Javaid shared the paradigm she’s witnessing in the women investment community: "We don’t see each other as competition, we applaud each other’s successes and raise each other up because when someone else wins we all win.”
As these women know how to nurture their communities, fem-tech and family-tech products pose strong partnership opportunities for brands who want to tap into health-conscious audiences. For example, Flo, the most popular period, and cycle tracking app has over 240 million downloads and 50 million monthly active users.
Tapping into such communities through partnerships have the power to increase a brand’s relevancy and engagement with their audiences in a unique way that a TikTok ad would not be able to deliver.
As a lead for Women@Wavemaker, our internal diversity and inclusion group dedicated to supporting and spotlighting the brilliant women we work with, I find these types of conversations essential. They prompt us to put our daily hustle aside for one day and think about the systematic shits needed to embrace equity for all. I left the panel feeling inspired and motivated to work harder to break the unconscious biases that act as barriers for women to succeed. Here’s to building an inclusive culture that helps us all to win together.
Elif Pulcu Kile is senior strategy partner at Wavemaker. The full panel session can be viewed via this link. For more information visit: wavemakerglobal.com
1: Women-founded startups raised 1.9% of all VC funds in 2022, a drop from 2021 - TechCrunch
2: The Value of Investing in Female Founders - Forbes