Sex tech isn’t just about pleasure — it’s about women’s health. A new wave of women-led European startups are here to put a new twist on adult content that puts women’s pleasure first, and once squeamish investors are finally opening their eyes to its potential.
In Episode Four of The Sifted Podcast, sponsored by Zendesk for Startups, Sifted editor Michael Stothard interviews Berlin correspondent Miriam Partington on some of Europe’s most exciting startups and how they began their founder journeys.
But before we dig into the podcast, femtech has come a long way. Here’s how big the market is, and who you should be keeping an eye on.
'Femtech' is still pretty new
Femtech is software and hardware that caters to women’s health, and includes everything from period tracking apps and pregnancy support to sex toys and audio erotica.
And while the term "femtech" was coined only six years ago, the market has seen steady growth: in 2020 it was worth €19bn and it’s projected to grow to €53bn by 2027.
Femtech startups raised $498m in 2019 alone and, according to Dealroom, the subsectors bringing in the most money globally are menstrual health, gynaecological health and reproductive health.
Who are the big players?
European success stories include Berlin-based Clue, a period tracking app with 12m users. It also acts as a digital contraceptive, and it won FDA approval this year. Its founder Ida Tin famously coined the term femtech.
Another is UK-based Elvie, a smart tech company that developed a connected breast pump and a smart pelvic floor exerciser, and raised £58m in a Series C this year. Another is UK-based KaNDy Therapeutics, which is developing a non-hormonal treatment for menopause symptoms, and was acquired by Bayer in 2020 for €373m.
Emerging European femtechs include UK-based Wild.ai, which aims to address the lack of data on female physiology in the sports and fitness sector. It’s building a fitness app to support active women to train, fuel and recover, and hopes to become the "Bloomberg of female data".
Another is ImVitro, a Paris-based startup seeking to personalise decision-making for IVF. It’s developed machine learning algorithms to help fertility clinics make better predictions about embryo selection.
Finally, OHNE is an inclusive, direct-to-consumer subscription period products service. Customers receive bespoke deliveries of things like tampons, pads and CBD oil for cramps, all organic and matched to their cycle.
Listen to Episode Four of The Sifted Podcast now
In this episode, you’ll hear from Nina Julie Lepique, founder of sensual audio startup Femtasy, Andrea Oliver Garcia, founder of audio erotica startup Emjoy and Dominique Karetsos of Amboy Street Ventures, which invests in sexual health and women’s health startups.
You’ll also hear from five-year-old Eliza, London’s smallest — and shrewdest — investor, who grills Charles Cadbury, CEO of voice commerce company Say It Now AI, on whether she should hand over her marshmallows for a piece of his business.
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This is also the final episode of The Sifted Podcast Season 1! We’d love to hear your feedback, and what you want to see in Season 2.
Host: Michael Stothard
Producer: Georgina Ustik
Editor: Tim Smith