For women who want to focus their angel investment dollars in an area that has a direct impact on their lives, women’s health is an excellent place to start. The success of women’s health startups, specifically in the area of reproductive health, continues to grow. In fact, according to TechCrunch, in 2014, women’s health apps raised more money than all other health-focused apps combined. Women’s health, however, is a category that lacks female investors — despite targeting only women as the end user.
Recently, I was a judge of a pitch competition for The Refinery, a Connecticut-based accelerator for early-stage, women-led startups. I was particularly struck by the two companies that earned top scores from the judges: PregPrep and GestVision. Both companies not only addressed women’s health issues, but also were also riding a trend I see for innovations in women’s reproductive health: women-centered innovation focusing on women as the users.
Over 85 percent of venture capital funding goes to companies that have no women on the founding team. Only 3 percent of funding goes to companies that are led by a woman. Yet, women are the only people who get pregnant and give birth. The “user experience,” as we say in startup world, is only experienced by women.
When there is a large gap between the customer and the funders, there tends to be a focus on the market and not the user experience. The small amount of venture investment in fertility has been focused on expensive diagnostics and invasive treatments, which are both only available to only a narrow demographic. In addition to this, many of the apps led by and funded by men are financially driven by aggregating user data to sell to advertisers.
PregPrep, a company led by women, was the overall winner of the pitch competition at The Refinery. Their product is a natural conception kit. When I learned of the company, I was immediately surprised that a similar innovation did not already exist in the market.
Another female-led company, GestVision, finished just behind PregPrep. The company created a simple, inexpensive, accurate test for preeclampsia, one of the top causes of death for pregnant women and infants worldwide. The nearest competition for GestVision is a blood test that costs over 20 times as much and is not timely or as accurate.
Startups like these, including Clue, Prima-Temp*, and Naya Health, are experiencing success in the marketplace, but there is still room for growth in the reproductive health market. These companies will have a greater chance at staying focused on the end users — women — if women make it part of their investing ecosystem. We need to invest in the change we want to see in the world, and support startups that support women.
Barbara Clarke is a member of the DailyWorth Connect Program. Read more about the program here. She is also an angel investor in DailyWorth. You can find a full list of Clarke's angel investments here.
*Barbara Clarke is an investor in Prima-Temp.
This article is not investment advice, nor is it a solicitation to buy or sell any shares.