The market for products and services that support women’s unique health needs — often referred to as “femtech” — is growing and attracting attention from investors. Startups that address women’s health needs are often spearheaded by women who are determined to create space for women’s health conversations in business.
We’ll examine five femtech startups that mix business prowess with a mission to improve knowledge about women’s bodies, expand the accessibility of their healthcare options, and improve their overall well-being.
Many startups in the women’s health space are launched and run by strong women leaders who want to add to the open dialogue about women’s health needs. Some are in the beginning stages and growing, while others are on the verge of becoming powerhouses. Here’s a look at five startups aiming to promote women’s well-being.
According to the company’s mission statement, Health in Her Hue is a digital platform that connects Black women and other women of color to culturally competent and sensitive healthcare providers. It also offers in-depth health content and a support community.
Co-founders Ashlee Wisdom and Eddwina Bright created Health in Her Hue in 2018 and have grown it into an effective and vocal brand. Health in Her Hue aims to reduce racial health disparities by leveraging the power of technology, media and community to improve health outcomes for women of color. The goal is to bring awareness to health and wellness issues while empowering women of color and their allies to share, learn and innovate around the health issues that affect them disproportionately.
The company’s health equity pledge includes the philosophy of creating a “space for Black women and women of color to feel seen and heard in their healthcare experiences.” Its approach to achieving health equity starts with the “images, language, and interactions used to humanize and foster trust with Black women and women of color.”
The New York-based wellness enterprise is growing quickly as it tackles issues the medical industry has long avoided.
Culture Care is a telemedicine startup that helps Black women connect with physicians with cultural similarities. Black women are statistically more likely to die from preventable diseases and conditions than white women are, and Culture Care’s goal is to help women of color address healthcare blind spots that often leave them feeling unsupported and unheard.
Based in Oakland, California, Culture Care was founded by Dr. Monique Smith and Dr. Joy Cooper to help increase cultural connections between women of color and their healthcare providers, ultimately saving lives.
Culture Care was inspired by personal experiences. When Smith was giving birth, she faced terrifying uncertainty. “All of a sudden, the monitor was being snatched up, my bed was rolling down the hall and I was terrified,” Smith recalled. “I had delivered babies. I was a doctor. And I was a Black woman who had labored for 22 hours with multiple complications. I knew what was coming next, but I could not speak for myself or my child, who was in danger.”
Her doctor-doula and friend, Dr. Joy Cooper, guided her through the situation and helped her speak for herself.
With a growing team of medical professionals and support staff, Culture Care offers video appointments with elite physicians at reasonable prices. The goal is to listen, provide patients with a plan of action, and create a uniquely personalized care experience.
Hey Jane is a U.S.-based virtual clinic that provides abortion pills and medical and emotional support to people 18 and older who are 10 or fewer weeks pregnant. It sells a Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved product for patients who need private, safe, accessible and convenient reproductive medical care at an affordable price.
The New York-based startup was founded by Kiki Freedman, Gaby Izarra and Dr. Kate Shaw. The company has seen significant growth since 2021, selling to over 10,000 patients and netting $6.1 million in investment capital. Its mission is to provide easier access to safe abortions amid increasingly fewer options for pregnant people in some states.
The virtual clinic allows potential patients to check if they’re medically eligible for the abortion pill and if insurance will cover the service. A provider reviews the patient’s medical situation and provides an answer in one to two business days. If it’s appropriate, they’ll prescribe the medication, which will be delivered quickly. Hey Jane also provides virtual medical consultations via voice or video call with caring providers who support patients through the process and beyond.
If financials are an issue or insurance won’t cover the medication, Hey Jane offers sliding-scale pricing based on personal and financial circumstances. For additional support, patients can turn to the company’s abortion fund partners.
When you’re opening a private medical practice, submit your loan request to your bank’s medical division, if possible. This subset specializes in the healthcare sector and understands its risks, expenses and revenue models.
LOLA is a subscription service for period care, vaginal health and sexual wellness products. This rapidly growing startup was created by Jordana Kier and Alex Friedman to fill a marketplace gap and bring quality, affordable products to people who need them. The New York-based company has made its way to stores and pharmacies nationwide.
“We were able to get groceries, beauty products and dry cleaning delivered to our door,” Kier explained. “But for some reason, we were still making last-minute tampon runs to the drugstore every month, even though it was never any surprise that we would need them.”
Kier and her partners aimed to empower women to ask questions about their personal care and become informed enough to make educated choices about their products. “Long term, the vision for LOLA is to provide all women with the products they need throughout their entire reproductive cycles and beyond,” Kier said. “To us, the entry of other startups into the space further validates the importance of all-natural products.”
LOLA period care deliveries come in discreet boxes with 18 tampons, available in three sizes (light, regular and super) consistent with industry standards.
“It was important to us to build our subscription model to be a service we would want to use ourselves, so we make it really easy to adjust, skip or cancel at any time,” Friedman said.
LOLA sells products made from 100 percent cotton, hypoallergenic material without synthetics, chemicals or dyes. Additionally, LOLA uses sustainable products and packaging, wrapping its tampons in BPA-free compact plastic applicators.
Natural Cycles is an FDA-cleared birth control app that aims to help users monitor their menstrual cycles, understand their next period date, and know when they’re more likely to be fertile, ovulating or pregnant.
Natural Cycles was founded by particle physicist Elina Berglund, who wanted a hormone-free birth control option to assist with family planning. Users enter their body temperature, and the app’s algorithm determines ovulation times and periods of fertility. Users learn to understand their cycles, monitor symptoms and identify patterns.
Fertility experts, physicists and data scientists continually contribute to the app’s development and are committed to enriching the women’s health field.
Shannon Gausepohl contributed to this article.