Menstrual health tech is increasingly flowing into wristbands, apps, or home mini-labs: startups are thus collecting more and more data on female biology. Is this information helping to reduce healthcare inequities, Pippa Doyle (WHOOP) and Erica Perrier (Perifit)?
I: What does conquering the biggest neglected target group mean?
1. Tools only for young people? Not with FemTech!
Erica: Our target group is women. We empower and allow them to take this matter into their own hands. Our user base goes from age 20, all the way up to women in their 70s, and even occasionally we hear from women in their 80s who are using the product. A third of our customers are 45 plus.
2. Expanded access to pelvic floor wellness, anytime and anywhere
Erica: I think what many of our users have in common is that they are being empowered to improve their pelvic floor wellness, regardless of whether they have been able to access this type of care in the traditional healthcare space. There are enormous barriers to accessing this kind of care - financial, geographic, social, and time-related barriers - especially if you think that leaking is normal and you're not going to go out and seek this care. Studies show that the vast majority of women think that the leaks they were experiencing are just a normal and inevitable part of being a woman.
Erica Perrier: Combining health science and tech to change lives
Erica Perrier first studied biological anthropology and anatomy at Duke and later earned a Ph.D. in exercise science at Oregon State. She spent nearly ten years doing research for Danone, five of them as a research leader. Today, she works as a Medical Innovation Leader for the femtech startup Perifit.
(🤝 Meet Erica at Linkedin)
Perifit: Stop leaking. Start playing!
Perifit delivers gamified pelvic floor training to combat incontinence or prolapse symptoms and to improve pelvic floor wellness. Gamification comes with motivation through games like Flappy Bird, car races, and more. The Perifit is recommended by physical therapists and doctors and has already been adopted by 300.000 customers.
(👁️ Check out what Perifit does)
3. Adapt to varying female conditions
Pippa: Wearables have been male targeted and male-focused, particularly over the last five years. That doesn't have to be the case and won't be the case for WHOOP. We head into new markets because people are seeing men and women equally. For our menstrual cycle coach we are actively doing research on our members to see: Can we be there for you through menopause, through perimenopause? We've also done research on pregnancy: WHOOP was worn for 14 months before conception until after birth. It was incredibly useful for healthy pregnancies. We found that it is really beneficial to exercise while pregnant. Pregnancy is probably our next step forward.
Pippa Doyle: Together with WHOOP she is bringing FemTech into public
Pippa Doyle studied communications in Dublin, and has a first-class Masters in Journalism and Media Communication. She conducted research studies looking at how the media’s portrayal of women impacts women’s mental and physical health while working as a journalist. She then moved to work in female sports marketing at Shop Direct for four years, before joining WHOOP in 2021 as International Brand and Communication Manager. (🤝 Meet Pippa at Linkedin)
WHOOP: Harvard-technology to succeed in a wristband
The US-based human performance company WHOOP delivers a wearable technology that track certain data points that help monitor the health and training status of its users. In the back, WHOOP researches and the software deliver content based on the data to improve recovery, health, or strain. In 2021, WHOOP presented its Menstrual Cycle Coaching.
(👁️ Check out what WHOOP does)
II: How does FemTech fight inequality?.... says Emily Capodilupo, Vice President of Data Science and Research at WHOOP about the problem research has because of excluding women for decades - and how technology might change this issue. (🤝 Meet Emily at Linkedin)
Pippa: Women weren't included in FDA research until 1992 - which is not long ago. We need so much more research now to be able to see a clear picture. Those facts are stark. But it's our springboard and our starting point.
Erica: Women's bodies have been shrouded in mystery from a health perspective for at least 200 years now. And where there is mystery, there is shame. Where there's shame, there's misinformation - and misinformation is dangerous. We take an active stand against that. Women's bodies belong in all places where health and wellness discussions are being had.
III: The dawn of a huge market?
$500 million to $1 billion ...
is the estimated current volume of the FemTech market size. (Source: McKinsey)
💰Only 3% of all digital funding ...
... flows into FemTech Companies, despite the fact that ...
💸 women spend 29% more on healthcare ...
... per capita compared to men. (Source: rockhealth.com) But:
📈 Within 5 years ...
... the Femtech Market will double. (Source: femtech.health)
What do the trends show you?
Pippa: If we make the move, we will find parity. It’s crucial, the time is now.
Erica: I'm excited about what new taboos we can break and how we become larger companies that get a larger share of voice.
Context of this article: FitTech Summit - FIBO Edition: High Tech Society
The context of the contents of this article: The sixth FitTech Summit at FIBO 2022. The German- and English-language business conference asked: How are fitness technologies (Fittech) developing our society? Answers were provided by 14 experts on three live stage shows:
Power to the People - how fittech is changing the reality of (new) audiences.
Cases of Places - how Fittech transforms places of (public) life.
The Planet's Tenet - how fittech influence worlds and systems.