I started investing in women's health in 2019/2020, and wow, things sure have changed in the last 5 years. It feels like we're reaching a tipping point, where we go from a segment of healthcare to just good healthcare.

But we've still got work to do; the segment feels fragmented, and there's now a lot of noise to sift through. This directly results from the siloed pockets of activity and awareness across the capital stack and ecosystem. Because honestly, we're not great at collaborating and talking to each other yet. Non-profits and grassroots organizations are often anti-capitalistic. A lot of OG capital in the start-up space was catalytic for concessionary returns, not financial. But that's finally starting to change (thanks to consultants like McKinsey, the white house and Biden administrations, and many more who have lent their credibility and the efforts of first-wave movers and researchers).

Philanthropy has always been involved in addressing hot topics such as access to contraception or abortion; while VC funding is a newer tool to address the health inequity 51% of the population faces today.

What got me into investing? Well, that would be my astonishment when, at 18, I realized I had tried just about every contraceptive on the market. And they all sucked.

The pill was annoying to take every day, the NuvaRing would randomly fall out, the shot turned me into a crazy person around the 2-month mark between doses (& who wants to see their dr. so regularly anyway?), and I kept expelling IUDs. Fast forward to my first women's health job, where I later learned periods are optional, and if you have an IUD, you can't use a diva cup (the suction can move the IUD, causing it to dislodge...you'd think I was asked that after my 4th fell out).

After trying to get foundations to align their endowments or programmatic investing with their organization's mission, which ultimately was a losing battle and probably too ahead of its time. I helped launch RH Capital, which is one of a handful of women's health funds investing in early-stage start-ups. The primary focus was contraceptive innovation and maternal health, with a lot of life science and medical device plays, and eventual expansion into the broader women's health category.

Below are resources, articles, and ways to learn more about opportunities that serve 51% of the population.

Some noteworthy investments I've had the pleasure to watch grow and exit include Ovia Health (acquired by LabCorp, 8/21), Nurx (merged Thirty Madison, 2/22), Cirqle Biomedical (Organon co-development deal, 7/22).

crash course facts & figures.

Women make 85% of consumer purchase decisions.

Women make 80% of healthcare decisions.

Women have only been mandated to participate in clinical trials starting in 1993 (that's right, about 30 years ago. And don't even get me started on the lack of requirement today to segment research by gender)

Women aged 50+ have a combined net worth of $19 trillion. Not to mention all of the consumer spending we saw during barbie summer of 2023.

News | Office of Research on Women’s Health
News - Women’s Health - Mayo Clinic

reports.

events.

Local events are usually the best here, but the folks who put on the WHIS do a series of them throughout the year across the globe. By far, most women's health investors are in one room and its a great starting place for anyone looking to break into the ecosystem.

deal flow & newsletters

  • Femtech Insider: Hub of start-ups, research, and all things women’s health, they have a great weekly newsletter with the latest and greatest.
  • Project W: Female founder-focused newsletter
  • Women in VC: Slack group for female investors

femtech accelerators

Startup incubators and accelerators are programs that provide early-stage companies with mentorship, resources, and often some form of capital, usually in exchange for equity, mostly in the US.

  • 51 Labs: An accelerator for women’s health backed by corporate sponsors
  • Impact 51: A new startup studio to exclusively address women’s health
  • Springboard Enterprise: Springboard’s Women’s Health Innovation Program is for women-led companies in women’s health
  • FemTechLab: A 12-week program for early-stage women’s health companies
  • FemTech Accelerator: An accelerator for women’s health founders in Oklahoma City
  • Femovate, a UX sponsorship (not an accelerator) meaning they do UX work for free for femtech companies.
  • Series R: They provide pro bono 3-month customized package of marketing services, mentorship, and networking opportunities to women’s health founders
  • BioInnovation Institute: established by the Novo Nordisk Foundation, help provide long-term and ambitious support for innovation in life sciences.
  • Tech4Eva (Groupe Mutuel & EPFL Innovation Park): community and a 9 month FemTech start-up acceleration program for companies developing innovative solutions to improve technologies relating to women’s health
  • Femtech Founders Program at STATION F: STATION F is organizing 3-months long Femtech Founders Program for entrepreneurs looking to expand their network and grow their business. (Paris, France)

More accelerators here.

resources in womens health.