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Why Investors Should Start to Care About Femtech and Women’s Health

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May 21st, 2021


Learning, Themes


Carmine Meoli

What can I do to improve sleep quality? How can I remember to drink more water? When is the best time for me to run, eat, or meditate? Which days of the month am I most fertile? Hundreds of millions of people all over the world are trying to improve their nutrition, hydration, sleep, mental health, training, and sex life. Wellness and health awareness have grown to be a top priority in many people’s life. According to the statistics platform Statista, the global health, and wellness market was valued at $4.4 trillion in 2019 and is expected to be at $6 trillion by 2025. Health devices worn on the body enable consumers to track their activity levels, sleep, heartbeat, body temperature, or hydration. The rise of wearables has merged with wellness, and the average person is estimated to generate more than 1 million gigabytes of health-related data in their lifetime.

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Funding for digital health startups was at a record-high in 2020

The increasing demand for digital health and wellness products and solutions opened new investment opportunities, both at the stock exchange and in the alternative investments world: “Consumers see wellness apps as a way to meditate and improve sleep. Investors see profits. Meditation and sleep apps have raised hundreds of millions of dollars in venture capital, hinting at the start of a new lifestyle business“, the news website NBC News predicted by the end of 2019. “Wall Street has seen a flurry of digital health companies going public in recent months as the coronavirus pandemic continues to drive investor interest in the sector. Funding for digital health startups shattered records in 2020, with global equity funding hitting an all-time high of $26.5 billion last year”, the health industry news platform Healthcare Dive wrote in January 2021. Among the most relevant players in the digital health and wellness market are Calm, Hims&Hers, as well as Bellabeat.

Calm is the world’s first mental health unicorn

Founded in 2012, Calm has quickly become the number one meditation app in the world. The California-based startup has reportedly been profitable since 2016, is currently valued at $2 billion, and the first mental health unicorn. Calm sells meditation products such as guided meditations, a meditation book, narrated sleep stories, as well as health and meditation videos. Their primary product is the meditation app, costing around $70 per year. By the end of 2020, the Calm meditation app had been downloaded 100 million times. Calm is among the fastest-growing private companies in the US. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the wellness company launched a page of free resources to respond to the toll the virus had taken on people’s mental health all over the world.

Hims&Hers went from supporting men with taboo health issues to operating a telehealth platform

Hims&Hers addresses primarily physical health issues. The mission of this healthcare startup is to eliminate stigmas surrounding health issues and make it easier for people to access care and treatment for the conditions that impact their daily lives. Founded in 2017, the digital healthcare provider (back then operating under the name Hims) was initially helping men with issues like erectile dysfunction and hair loss, getting online consultations with doctors and prescriptions discreetly shipped to their doors. The California-based company later added a women’s health division and changed its name to Hims&Hers. Nowadays, it operates as a telehealth platform connecting consumers to doctors. Since the pandemic outbreak, the digital healthcare provider has expanded its portfolio by Covid-19 test kits, therapy, and services in Spanish.

The weak point of Hims&Hers: failing to attract female customers

Hims&Hers went public in a $1.6 billion SPAC deal in January 2021. Merging with a SPAC to go public instead of going the traditional IPO route has become increasingly popular, not just for healthcare companies. It allows founders and investors to retain more control with easier access to capital. According to a “Forbes” article about Hims&Hers, the healthcare startup’s “biggest draw so far has been its brand identity and popularity among the millennial crowd.” However, the majority of this player’s annual revenue still comes from male customers, and market observers agree that it could be challenging for Hims&Hers to attract new female customers and retain existing ones. “I think the beautiful part about the digital healthcare space is you are talking about a $4 trillion market that really has yet to be touched by technology. Over the next five to ten years, the entire industry is going to be rebuilt and redesigned with the consumer in control and in the driver’s seat” Hims&Hers founder Andrew Dudum is quoted by “Forbes”.

Will male investors recognize the relevance of femtech?

Women constitute more than half of the world’s population and yet are often a consumer group that is overlooked. This is also true in the digital health and wellness market. An analysis by PitchBook concluded that femtech – technology that supports women’s health – is a significantly underdeveloped slice of health tech. The Swiss newspaper Tagesanzeiger (article in German) describes femtech as “a sleeping giant”: “There is a great demand for technology for women, especially for high-tech health products for the female body. But the supply is lacking because good ideas too often do not make it to market, as the topic is either too icky or too embarrassing for the predominantly male investors, or because they are not interested enough.”

Bellabeat is the fastest-growing wellness subscription “super app”

A pioneer in women’s health and wellbeing is Bellabeat, a Californian wellness tech company founded in 2013 and is exclusively focusing on women by offering sleep, activity, and reproductive health monitoring services. The Bellabeat products help women easily track their overall health and connect to their body and mind throughout different stages in life. The women’s health tech startup recently turned profitable, and with over 100 percent growth within the last three years, Bellabeat is the fastest-growing wellness subscription app. Bellabeat offers a freemium model and has around 10 million users and 2.5 million paying members as of February 2021.

Besides the super app, Bellabeat also produces smart jewelry, which is created in partnership with Swarowski. The devices are designed to meet the increasing demand for human health data. Bellabeat recently introduced their latest product: Ivy, a device that monitors resting heart rate, respiratory rate, body temperature, sleep as well as sleep timing. Ivy also provides an overall measure of recovery and signals the capacity to perform at people’s mental, emotional, and physical best. Simply put, Bellabeat combines all the existing app functions of single players into one super app in combination with smart jewelry. Their products really seem to hit a nerve since, during a short pre-order window in December, Bellabeat already sold 20’000 units.

The market for digital health and wellbeing is already valued at over $4 trillion and further growth is expected. Healthcare, wellness, and femtech startups offer new investment opportunities. At Stableton, our mission is to break down entry barriers to private markets and create access to Pre-IPO companies with investment amounts as low as CHF 10’000.

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