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Ida Tin founded the period tracking app Clue in 2012 and four years later she coined the expression “femtech”. Just a few years ago, there was not even a single category to describe startups in the female health segment. For those who aren’t familiar with the lingo, femtech – “short for female technology” – are companies in the business of selling and manufacturing products catering to the needs of women. Typically these products and services include, among others, wearable devices, informative apps, medical treatments, platforms, and female hygiene items.
This week we’re giving visibility to 5 emerging startups that are improving women’s health. All of the companies featured are also founded by female entrepreneurs. To get a better sense of Clue’s mission, their technology, and advice for other femtech entrepreneurs, Orange Quarter sat down with Ida.
Where the magic happens: Berlin
Funding: To date, Clue has raised over $30 million. The company’s investors include Nokia Growth Partners (NGP), Union Square Ventures (USV), Mosaic Ventures, and FJ Labs, as well as top startup entrepreneurs from Spotify, Dropbox, SoundCloud and Toca Boca.
Tech stack: JVM, Node.js, Jenkins, Kubernetes, HTML5, Google Analytics, and jQuery
Users: 13 million from more than 190 different countries
“The idea for Clue came from personal experience, which helped me to imagine what we wanted to build, but it took all kinds of other strong and talented individuals to make that dream into something real. From the scientists who do the research to make sure we are bringing our users the latest, most accurate information, to the designers who make our app beautiful and useful, and our software engineers who write the code. Since founding Clue in 2012, the company has grown and we have built a strong team of software developers, designers, scientists, healthcare providers, marketers, and other talented people to make the Clue app better, more insightful, and more valuable to our users. We recently decided to welcome new leadership to better serve the needs of our users and of Clue. I have made the decision to take the role of chairwoman of the board. Carrie Walter, formerly Clue’s General Counsel, and Audrey Tsang, formerly Clue’s Chief Product Officer, are stepping up to lead Clue as Co-CEOs.
Our mission is about making the world work for women and everyone else with a cycle, so it seemed only fitting that we find a new way to lead through a collaborative, supportive, and equal Co-CEO relationship that embodies our mission, vision, and culture.”
“The most difficult part of starting Clue was demonstrating the value and opportunity that came with developing a women’s health app, especially in such a vastly male-dominated tech scene. Our early-stage investors included Angel and Seed rounds, backed by notable individuals and companies, including Brigitte Mohn, Christophe Maire, Joanne Wilson, Giving Wings, Groupe Arnault, and FJ Labs, as well as top startup entrepreneurs from Spotify, Dropbox, SoundCloud, and Toca Boca. The investment came from a mix of male and female figures; however, as we approached larger investment firms, we found that the majority of our investors were male. Interestingly, many of these investors chose to back us after discussing Clue with their wives and partners – who helped them to realise the value of a product like Clue.”
“I would advise any entrepreneur at the beginning of their career, to never hesitate in reaching out for help or seeking advice. Entrepreneurship, though hugely rewarding when you succeed, can be tough, so guidance and a sympathetic ear can go a long way in helping. In my own journey, I have reached out to others for support and given advice and mentorship myself. By supporting one another in our pursuits, tech entrepreneurs will continue to develop and grow in whichever industry they choose.
“The femtech market is growing rapidly because the needs within the female health sector are very real and very pressing. Products designed to support women’s health haven’t seen the same level of innovation as other areas of society. I think the main accelerator is recognition: investors and developers are beginning to realise that this is a legitimate and sustainable business option and are waking up to its value. Equally, women are beginning to recognise the benefits of tailored solutions which can support their anatomy. It’s been encouraging to see the way women have been empowered by femtech to start demanding better tools and services that can support the incredible biology they possess.
I think we can safely predict that tracking apps and gadgets are going to become more and more intuitive as time goes on. It’s likely that we will see more integration and better discovery of services and products in femtech for the user in terms of molecular monitoring of the body, and that we will increasingly be able to monitor everything from hormone levels to egg reserves, hot flashes, and vaginal health – and many other things that are part of women’s health lives that are underserved.”
Until very recently, discussions around women’s health issues have been surrounded by social stigma and taboo. However, with the rise of companies focussed on both solving and normalising female health issues, it seems the tables have finally turned. Ida coined the term “femtech” in 2016 partly to fuel that shift and get people talking about the companies that are dedicated to women’s health and research.
Learn more about Clue here.
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