Meet the woman who invented a whole new subdivision of technology to be worth $1 trillion


Ida Tin created the term “FemTech” in 2016.


Ida Tin wanted to study art in college when she accidentally secured a place on a business course – she then became a pioneer of an industry said to be worth more than $1 trillion.

“I literally got lost in the hallways and ended up in an office where they were waiting for a candidate [the business course interview]’ said Tin as she explained her first steps in the business world.

She took the course and later combined her artistic skills with entrepreneurial flair to start a jewelry business, followed by a motorcycle tour company, and in 2012 she co-founded Clue, a menstrual health app that now has 11 million monthly active users.

Clue was one of the first period tracking apps and allows users to track their cycles as well as side effects such as mood, energy levels and eating habits.

As Clue grew in users, Tin realized that there wasn’t much community around women’s health services and products, despite more and more being released.

“They felt like kindred spirits and I was trying to figure out how we talked about ourselves and our products… So I really wanted something that could bring it under one umbrella,” Tin told CNBC. And so, in 2016, the name “FemTech” was born.

The term now covers all types of technology and innovation designed to address health issues that only or disproportionately impact women’s health, from menstrual cycle tracking apps and sexual wellness products to cardiovascular medical devices and mental health therapies .

Giving FemTech its own name helped the community of people working in the industry find each other, but also gave investors certainty about where they put their money. said.

“It’s a little bit easier to say you invested in FemTech than, you know, a company that helps women not pee their pants… a lot of the investors are men.”

“And I have to say I was surprised, but I really see how it’s resonating globally,” she added.

According to projections by the non-profit organization FemTech focus, the FemTech industry will be worth an estimated $1.186 trillion by 2027.

The estimate defines the market as products and services designed to address 97 health problems that “exclusively, disproportionately or otherwise affect girls, women and women”. That covers 23 subdivisions of women’s health, including menopause, bone health, abortion, brain health, cardiovascular and reproductive health.

FemTech funding is ‘peanuts’

From bodysuits that use heat and vibration to relieve menstrual cramps to wearable technology that helps breast cancer patients recover, there’s no shortage of creativity and innovation in the FemTech space, but many of the companies aren’t getting the capital they need to go full steam ahead. to get to the ground, says Tin.

“We still get peanuts to play with when you see how much money has been invested in, you know, e-scooters, car sharing… They just have so much money to build very impressive businesses. I haven’t seen that kind of funding not at all yet,” said Tin.

“We have to prove ourselves so hard on this journey,” she said. “We’ve raised a lot of money and you know, comparably we’ve done well. But I think we’ve been underfunded all along, honestly.”

More than 80% of FemTech startups have a female founder, according to trend forecasting firm Ultra Violet Futures, and it’s widely documented that women-founded companies are bringing in less money. By 2022, women-founded companies will receive just 2% of total capital invested in venture-backed startups in the US, according to PitchBook data for February.

Holes in the market

According to Tin, there are big gaps in the market when it comes to technology designed around women’s health.

Why don’t I feel good about my hormonal changes over the course of my life? I still don’t have predictive analytics.

“Menopause is a huge hole, birth control is still a hole. And I feel like we’re ready for a leap in the depths of technology,” she said.

“I still wonder why I don’t know the makeup of my nervous system in my lust areas, like I know it’s technologically possible, but why isn’t it a consumer product? Why don’t I have a good sense of my hormonal changes over the course of my life? I still don’t have predictive analytics. When will I enter menopause?”

“These are all problems that we can use more advanced technology to solve. I’d like to see that and I’m not quite seeing that yet,” added Tin.

There is certainly research being done in the field of women’s health for example studies at the University of Colorado are looking at how blood tests can predict when a woman will reach the onset of menopause two years before it happens but the technology is ready for widespread use is a long way off.

There is also a strong business case for developing products in this area. For example, global productivity losses could amount to more than $150 billion a year due to unsupported women leaving the workforce at the peak of their careers, or when many women experience pregnancy, perimenopause (the transitional stage to menopause) and menopause, according to Ultraviolet futures.

Beyond clue

Tin stepped down as CEO of Clue in 2021, just after the company’s birth control app was approved by the FDA as a medical device.

“I could see that the things I should have learned to really serve the company were things that I’m not very good at, and I wasn’t that interested in a lot of very serious operational stuff and I didn’t care that much,” said Tin.

“If you think you can’t serve well enough or aren’t the best to serve, then it’s definitely good leadership to go,” she added.

Audrey Tsang and Carrie Walter took over as Clue’s co-CEOs, while Tin remains with the company as chairman and is writing a book about her experiences in the world of FemTech.

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