Health care has become a buzzy space in the startup landscape—and companies focused on women’s health in particular have garnered more attention from venture capitalists in recent years.
But there’s still quite a ways to go when it comes to funding, and meeting, the varied needs of this vast population. So where is the puck heading?
“I’m hopeful that for 2023,…that momentum continues and you start to see these companies going public, you start to see real proof points around some of these bets in women’s health,” argues Anu Duggal, founding partner of venture firm Female Founders Fund. “I think there’s never been a better moment to be building in that space.”
Duggal’s 8-year-old firm, which boasts LPs like Melinda French Gates and Goldman Sachs, invests only in female-led startups and focuses on seed-stage investments, wielding $100 million in assets under management, including a $57 million fund closed last year, which Duggal tells me in sum is only about 30% deployed so far. Female Founders Fund is an early investor in women’s health startups like Maven Clinic—which last year became the first unicorn, or startup worth at least $1 billion, in the women’s and family health space. Overall, funding into so-called femtech, or startups focused on tech-enabled products addressing female health and the needs of people who menstruate, topped $1 billion last year for the first time, per PitchBook data (other estimates, like McKinsey’s, put that figure at $2.5 billion).
One morning over coffee recently, I asked Duggal what she expects to see in terms of trends in health care over the next few years. Her predictions? Menopause, preventative care, and startups focusing on breast cancer.
“We did a study on menopause two years ago, and it’s insane: the lack of products and services that really speak to that consumer,” Duggal notes. She argues as the current generation “starts getting into perimenopause, the expectations are going to be more and more” for such products and services. Whether that’s “through HRT [hormone replacement therapy], whether it’s through telehealth, whether it’s through consumer products, I think that’s a really big opportunity,” she believes. There, Duggal invested in Kindra, which makes science-backed products for menopause care, while Maven Clinic also recently launched a menopause offering. The opportunity from a dollar spend perspective in the space could be big: Duggal says that per the firm’s deep dive into menopause, on average “a woman spends 10 years in menopause and perimenopause and spends $20,000.” (On the flip side, startups targeting period care, like Sunny Period, are also gaining traction, as Jessica explored earlier this week.)
Duggal believes preventative health care, a space that’s taken off in recent years, will also become increasingly important.
“We’ve been treating health as kind of a symptom and then solution-based model, and I think that there’s a lot more innovation that needs to happen in getting to the root of the issues that people face and preventing them from becoming chronic,” Duggal says, whether that’s treating things like “blood sugar, whether it’s sleep, whether it’s exercise.” There, she points to a recent investment in a startup (yet to be announced) offering a primary care membership model, which combines a doctor, a holistic practitioner, and a concierge. “They really complement each other,” she argues, “so I think more of an integrated approach to health care that does take a preventative approach” is key.
Meanwhile, startups targeting the prevention and treatment of breast cancer are garnering attention and funding, with venture dollars flowing into companies focusing on things like imaging. Duggal believes “we’re starting to see more innovation” in that space, and notes “venture capital funding for women’s health care as a category has tripled over the past five years, but we are long overdue on innovation and investment in tackling this incredibly important health care issue both from a preventive and curative standpoint.”
The traction is encouraging, but funding for female-led startups and those focused on women’s health still lags other categories by a large margin. Still, Duggal’s confident her firm can help companies meet the health needs of millions of women—and make millions for her investors in the process.
FTX’s M&A fuel: Sam Bankman-Fried’s crypto exchange powerhouse FTX is in talks to raise new funds, in part to fuel “efficient acquisitions” in the crypto space, Bankman-Fried said at the Wall Street Journal’s Tech Live conference on Tuesday. FTX has been an active investor in beleaguered firms during the so-called crypto winter, though Bankman-Fried said future acquisitions would be more focused on acquiring retail users versus bailing out beaten-down companies.
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- SiMa.ai, a San Jose-based machine learning company, raised $67 million in Series B1 extension funding. MSD Partners, Fidelity Management & Research Company, Amplify Partners, Dell Technologies Capital, Wing Venture Capital, Alter Venture Partners, +ND Capital, and Lip-Bu Tan invested in the round.
- Ionblox, a Fremont, Calif.-based lithium-ion cell company, raised $24 million in Series B funding. Lilium, Applied Ventures, Catalus Capital, and others invested in the round.
- RightMove, a New York-based virtual musculoskeletal physical therapy provider, raised $21 million in Series A funding. Hospital for Special Surgery and Flare Capital invested in the round.
- Unito, a Montréal-based workflow management company, raised $20 million in Series B funding. CDPQ led the round and was joined by investors including Bessemer Venture Partners and Rainfall Ventures.
- Allstacks, a Raleigh-based predictive forecasting and risk management platform, raised $12.3 million in Series A funding. Companyon Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Atlassian Ventures, CreativeCo, Hyperplane Venture Capital, S3, and Bala Investments.
- Devtron, a Gurugram, India-based open source internal DevOps platform, raised $12 million in funding led by Insight Partners.
- Daye, a London-based gynecological health startup, raised $11.5 million in Series A funding from MassMutual Ventures and others.
- bit.io, a San Francisco-based Postgres database building and collaboration platform, raised $7.5 million in seed funding. Battery Ventures and GreatPoint Ventures co-led the round and were joined by Neo and Combine.
- Arnica, an Atlanta-based behavior-based solution for software supply chain security, raised $7 million in seed funding co-led by Joule Ventures and First Rays Venture Partners.
- Swantide, a San Francisco-based GTM tech stack management platform, raised $7 million in seed funding. Menlo Ventures, Scribble Ventures, Burst Capital, Neo, and Village Global invested in the round.
- Pixaera, a London-based game-based learning platform, raised $4.5 million in funding. LocalGlobe led the round and was joined by investors including the founders of FACEIT, ERM, and York IE.
- Elion, a New York-based digital health technology marketplace company, raised $3.3 million in seed funding. NEA, Max Ventures, 8VC, AlleyCorp, Charge Ventures, and Floating Point invested in the round.
- Vixtra, a São Paulo-based import credit fintech company, raised $3 million in pre-Series A funding. Valor Capital led the round and was joined by QED.
- HeyRitual, a Santa Monica-based couples support company, raised $2 million in pre-seed funding. Ground Up Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Samsung Next, Verissimo Ventures, 97212 Ventures, Fresh Fund, Homeward Ventures, and other angels.
- Worldwide Produce, a Sole Source Capital portfolio company, acquired Left Coast Food Company, a San Marcos, Calif.-based foodservice distributor of frozen goods, dry goods, and produce. Financial terms were not disclosed.
- GIC, IK Partners, Keensight, and Parquest acquired a majority stake in Unither Pharmaceuticals, an Amiens, France-based sterile unit-doses manufacturer and developer, from Ardian. Financial terms were not disclosed.
- FireTeam Solutions, backed by AE Industrial Partners, merged with Case Consulting, a Leesburg, Va.-based software development and engineering services provider to the U.S. intelligence community. Financial terms were not disclosed.
- Flora Growth agreed to acquire Franchise Global Health, a Vancouver-based medical cannabis and pharmaceutical industry operator. Financial terms were not disclosed.
- iCIMS acquired SkillSurvey, a Malvern, Pa.-based candidate skills and qualifications verification software company. Financial terms were not disclosed.
- TPG, a Fort Worth and San Francisco-based alternative asset management firm, hired Pamela Pavkov as a partner and head of TPG NEXT. Formerly, she was with Jasper Ridge Partners.
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