6 Startup Ideas Towards The Female Market
“Entrepreneurs often start companies to solve problems they are facing in their daily lives. Since only 9% of founders CEO are women (at least, this is the official France Digitale statistic for France), one could imagine that there are still a lot of uncovered potential needs for women as consumers or prosumers! So Anh-Tho & Marie had a closer look at that question and came out with number of business ideas which they now share openly. Hopefully this will inspire some entrepreneurs looking for new ventures and contribute to fulfill better some untapped women’s needs! Just a tip if you do so: you will find more female investors on crowdfunding platforms than in the venture capital industry, so do not forget those!” Marie Ekeland, co-founder at daphni, new european VC fund.
Every morning, while scanning our Twitter feeds, one simple question always comes to our minds: out of all shiny tech startups, how many of them do solve female needs, or at least, designed their services to adapt to women?
Women are still more than half of the earth’s user base. Simple. Clear. Because the majority of start-up founders are men, it seems that women’s needs fail to be considered by them.
So here are 6 problems women experiment on a daily basis, which we identified as ‘high business potential’. We scored them based on 4 dimensions: market size, business model potential, time to Minimum Viable Product and Scalability.
1. Women want to exercise more
In the UK, although this country shows one of the most developed fitness market in Europe, of 9.4 million women aged 14 to 40, 75 per cent (7.1 million) would like to be more active, according to Sport England and their campaign ‘This Girl Can’.
The body also found that women don’t exercise for fear of being judged — something that’s clearly a problem in many of Britain’s gyms.
On top of the ‘gym’ context, women also struggle per lack of appropriate equipments and coaching. Women do want to exercise beyond yoga and dance, but have bodybuilding machines and outdoor biking equipments designed for female bodies?
Therefore, the opportunity relies both on the product and service sides, to finally design a fulfilling female fitness experience.
2. Home management is more challenging than Office management
In our wildest dreams, when we get to have kids in the coming years, we would have an app with a simple dashboard, helping us plan our kids’ days with our husbands, showing us where their current location, analyzing our homes’ budgets and the split of chores between husband and wife, allowing us to pay for all services/suppliers, and enabling a 1-click ‘refill’ command on Amazon for groceries when needed, etc.
How about Home management? Women are still the CFO/COO of their homes in most cases, which means that in addition to their day job, they manage a set of suppliers — grocery store, babysitters, extra curricular activities providers, the plumber, gardener (although that one can be quite sexy to manage…) etc. -, their planning — making sure the babysitter does pick up their kids at the right time, for instance -, the budget, payments and general admin — Did the tennis club get paid? Did the family apply for the tax refund for cultural activities?
Is there an app allowing to centralize all these tasks and make the ‘home manager’s life’ easier?
We found: to-do list apps, scheduling apps, e-commerce ones, financial ones, general project management (really business oriented) though.
From the business side, there is no doubt that the service that achieves to secure such a powerful and high-potential target as ‘home managers’ will have clear revenue streams ahead from partners, affiliates, subscriptions.
3. Women are bad negotiators
Women are bad negotiators. Of course this is a multi-sided issue, that has no simple solution.
Harvard Business Review research shows women do lack confidence in negotiating, but also that the ‘social cost’ of negotiating is higher for women. In short, when a woman negotiates for herself, she is more ‘disliked’ than a man who would have done the same thing.
This is obviously a ‘mindset’ and ‘culture’ painpoint widely spread in the workplace, and some organizations did implement ‘equal work equal pay’ policies to address this.
This does not mean some low-hanging practical ‘hacks’ coming from women themselves don’t exist. Women proved to be better at negotiating on behalf of a community more than for themselves, for instance. As a result, not only should women fight for the pay they deserve, but developing negotiation skills would also improve their impact in leadership positions — a woman who achieves a healthy negotiation before joining a company will build balances business relationships while closing deals — .
Where is the business opportunity out there? Female oriented business negotiation coaching, be it ‘B2C’: women as individuals would sign-up for coaching when they need it, or ‘B2B’: now that it is scientifically established we just need specific coaching to get better at negotiating, why don’t business schools or companies offer such professional development programs?
We have joined many women networks (tech or entrepreneurship oriented ones, others from top tier management consulting, banking, or business schools), often supported by generous sponsors. Nevertheless, we have always be disappointed by the lack of concrete coaching which would help us achieve more impact in the workplace.
4. Airbnb of baby sitting
Sometimes you just want to go on a date with your husbands, and forget about your kids. But babysitters are expensive meaning that women don’t go out as much as they would like to (not even mentioning the fact that the vast majority of divorced women take care of kids almost all the time). A lot of families in your neighborhood face the same hurdle. If you don’t hire a baby-sitter when you go out, you usually drop your children at a friends’/family member’s.
So far, it seems that the collaborative economy is all about tourism, food, transportation. What if there were also opportunities for families?
We believe that there is the opportunity to build a platform that would connect families in the same area so that they could baby-sit each other kids when they want to go out. For instance, I drop my daughter at Family A, and when Husband and Wife A go on date, they will drop their son (who is the same age) at home and we’ll take care of him for the evening.
5. Uber of moving kids
As mentioned earlier, women remain the COO of their family so they are in charge of moving the kids around. This means a lot of non-quality time stuck in traffic, picking up the kids at different locations, or being worried that they will be kidnapped on the way to school. In the mid-term, autonomous cars will probably solve the issue for part of the trips. But how can we help move kids around more easily, without their parents, and without paying a Uber driver? Again collaborative economy start-ups could help. Usually when your 8 year-old goes to a horse-riding lesson on Wednesday afternoon, there are at least 20 more kids with more or less the same itinerary. So why not put parents in touch, through a platform that would enable them to share trips and reduce costs ?
Surprisingly, the only ‘Uber for kids’ that is currently gaining traction in France is an Engie — French leader in the energy sector — funded startup called Petit Bus enabling parents to share ‘foot rides’ with other families: if you walk your daughter to school, maybe you can walk your neighbor’s son at the same time and conversely. Indeed, in high density cities such as Paris, car rides are not an absolute necessity.
6. Tights that don’t rip
Women tights rip: they rip right before this very important business meeting you’ve been preparing for, or in the middle of a date with Mr. Right. Tights rip so easily that a lot of women carry an additional pair of tights in their bag- just in case. Most tights cannot be worn more than 5 times before they rip. That’s something men are not aware of, but what if your socks would tear every week? Wouldn’t you be upset and want something more resistant? The hosiery industry is well aware of this pitfall, some would tell you that brands design tights to rip so that they make more money (yep that old conspiracy of foreseen obsolescence). We don’t know if it’s true or not, all we know is that nylon stockings from the 50s were really resistant. Invista, a worldwide leader in fibers, came up with two innovations in the last couple of years: 3D knitting technology, and lycra fusion fiber. They solve part of the problem: tights (such as Dim Absolu Resist category) no longer rip, but they still tear apart. The textile industry has managed to develop ballistic clothing, why can’t we make tights that don’t rip? We believe it is possible mixing innovative fibers, and high-quality knitting methods.
Last but not least
Why do we share this work?
Pay it forward — We believe that as ‘women in tech’, one of our responsibilities is to use tech to improve everyone’s lives, especially women’s. Female users have other needs than cosmetics, and other so-called ‘female businesses’. This is our way to ‘pay-it-forward’ to the ecosystem.
Execution matters more than ‘ideas’ — Identifying these ideas does not mean we are the best o nes to execute and grow them properly. So if you think this is the problem you want to solve in the next years and that you can do it, please go ahead!