Meet Your New Healthcare Specialists: The GUILD’s FemTech Champions
FemTech has arrived. Just as we once had to fight for the vote, women are rising up and taking tech into our own hands. Tired of inferior products and faulty services that don’t address female needs, a new generation of women are tapping their own deep intuition and empathy to bring promising, profitable, and healthy solutions to market.
Last Thursday, this tide of opportunity was on full display at the GUILD’s FemTech showcase By HER For HER at Plug & Play Tech Center in Sunnyvale. Exhibitors included passionate female founders who have identified critical, often ignored needs and met them with focused, technical solutions.
Anne Cocquyt, founder of the GUILD, took the floor with an inspiring call to action, highlighting the synergistic possibilities in this exciting new FemTech ecosystem.
“What if women’s health tech companies started to collaborate more?” she asked. “How can the GUILD help entrepreneurs network and create greater value? Can we use the GUILD to provide feedback for FemTech leaders in this space and bring together an ecosystem of investors, users, and entrepreneurs?”
Anne spoke of the tremendous power of women helping women to control their own journey — from sexual health, to fertility tracking, childbirth, and motherhood — as she introduced the many compelling women-led first-to-market ventures.
Participants echoed Anne’s theme, talking about the biggest shortcoming for women’s health products and services: the lack of personal female experience. Most health products and services are developed by men, tested on men, and don’t account for the unique needs of women.
“Women understand each other. The need is there, the market is there, half the population are women,” said Maja Zecevic, Founder and CEO of Opionato, explaining how FemTech is helping to take on this issue. “Most clinical trials are done by men, and then the products are applied eventually to women. We are here to educate them. Women have empathy and understanding. So, health ends up being our focus, and it’s better for society.”
Attendees could see and experience that truth themselves, perusing a wide range of products and services designed by women for women, starting with Lioness, a biofeedback vibrator that tracks your body’s arousal patterns to improve your sexual health and confidence. Pandia Health offered information on a physician-led birth control prescription and delivery service to prevent missing your dosage, the number-one pregnancy control problem. Test kits were on hand from UDoTest, discreet and convenient home-screening products for HPV, STDs, and colon cancers, and Floragraph was showing a prototype of an at-home microbiome testing device to help parents analyze their babies’ gut bacteria. Bloomlife displayed a medical-grade wearable sensor for tracking pregnancy contractions, and Opter let attendees try on a wearable designer necklace that monitors posture, UV exposure, sleep patterns, exercise and breathing. Information and samples were available from Naturella Made, an online retailer with a holistic probiotic formula to support vaginal and urinary tract health. Expert knowledge was on hand from Opionato, on-demand fertility expertise that provides answers to women undergoing IVF treatment, and Tia, a personal chatbot to engage in a supportive and informative dialogue about your body and health.
“There’s been an explosion of products in this space, but women make healthcare decisions partly based on facts and partly through emotion,” said Carolyn Witte, Co-Founder of Tia. “They want a relationship. Tia is the product of pain points we’ve experienced in the healthcare system around sexual health and the desire to build a unique, compassionate, empathetic relationship.”
Exhibitors and attendees could connect with Anne DeGheest, Founder of HealthTech Capital, a group of private investors dedicated to funding and mentoring startups in the digital health space. Cora, an organic tampon subscription service with a one-for-one distribution model to help women and girls in developing countries was giving away free samples, and attendees could sample the fare from Bare Bowls, a local woman-led maker of acai bowls and other healthy foods.
Sophia Yen, Founder and CEO of Pandia Health, explained some of the advantages of being a founder in controlling the direction of the technology behind FemTech products. This means the ability to stay lean and agile, continuing to improve the product or service while also intuitively understanding legal and management concerns.
In between pitching their products to potential new users, exhibitors were making much-needed connections networking with each other. The GUILD provided the setting to help FemTech entrepreneurs create better value through collaboration.
“As a scientist and an engineer, I know that the tech space is dominated by men. It’s great to be here tonight, because this makes it easier for women like me to network, meet people, raise money, do the things I want to do,” said Alicia Scheffer-Wong, Founder and CEO of Floragraph. “The community of women is just easier in every way. They are listeners, they understand, and they are more on par with what I want to do. With women, I can have higher quality communication and conversations.”
The GUILD’s mission is to bring like-minded women together, and by this metric alone the event was a huge success. Together, we’re all making the world better for women and ourselves.