5 FemTech Startups that are Smashing the Patriarchy
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Today we find ourselves at the end of “National Women’s Month” and we haven’t even managed to send our readers any self-congratulatory comments about how much we support diversity and women in technology. Now it might surprise you to know that we have a +81% male audience here at Nanalyze. That’s actually a far better gender representation than we’ve seen at most startups in our cumulative careers building cool technology isht used mainly by equally cool technology dudes who bump fists alot and smoke weed out in the parking lot. We though it would be a good idea to throw this over the fence to one of our awesome female writers to take a stab at a
ChickTech FemTech article dedicated to all the women in our lives that have helped make us the collective group of geniuses that we are today. Here goes.
A roomful of men may be deciding the future of maternal health care insurance, but they don’t have control over the new innovations breaking into the FemTech market. Okay, so some of these startups were founded by guys, but that doesn’t change the fact that they’re working to improve the lives of women (which probably means they’re all brainchildren of female minds, anyway.) The following five companies are specifically serving MOMS, freeing up time and headspace for them to both lead revolutions, and raise future revolutionaries.
Smashing the Patriarchy… at conception
Lia: The Flushable Pregnancy Test
Founded in 2015 by women who get it, Philly-based LIA Diagnostics has collected funding to redesign pregnancy tests that address the important issues of privacy, usability, and sustainability.
How it works: The Lia pregnancy test is a flushable, biodegradable paper pregnancy test that’s easy to hide and easy to read.
Why it matters: Where to start? The basic, plastic pregnancy test is composed of an oversized box with layers of unnecessary, planet-polluting packaging. Women who are trying to conceive, along with those who definitely aren’t, can end up purchasing a ton of these because they have to make sure they’re allowed to celebrate or make sure they’re allowed to panic. Both parties don’t want to have to take the test in the drugstore bathroom where they bought it, or bury it under a mountain of additional waste, in order to announce the news when and where and if they want to. A discreet, flushable test means women can save the planet, and save themselves from being outed before they’re ready.
The Lia pregnancy test is currently being developed, and hasn’t hit the market yet.
Smashing the Patriarchy… during pregnancy
HeraMED: The Compass Pregnancy Monitor
Founded in 2011, Israeli company HeraMED has successfully developed the first medical-grade, smartphone-based fetal wellness monitor for home use.
How it works: The Compass monitor uses ultrasound doppler technology, the same tech they’re using at the OB’s office, to monitor fetal heart rate. The app allows users to obsessively check on the wellbeing of their baby, or obsessively share it with a caregiver, while maintaining HIPPA compliance.
Why it matters: Of all the things occupying the mind of expecting mothers, whether or not their baby is okay is always, always on the list. During the first six months of pregnancy, when long-anticipated visits to the OB come only once a month, every pregnant woman’s superpower-of-choice would be the ability to know the fetal heart rate. Do not underestimate the stress of a day with less discernable movement, or the indescribable but stupidly frequent sinking feeling that something is wrong. The Compass monitor can ease these worries, or equip a mom with concrete, and potentially life-saving, information to present to their caregiver that could result in quick medical intervention.
The Compass Monitor by HeraMED has been developed, and will be entering into an already active fetal monitor market, hoping to bring more sophisticated tech than companies like Sonoline and AngelSounds have brought to the table in the past. The Compass claims that its new developments will make the fetal heartbeat easier to find, and easier to sustain for a longer period.
Smashing the Patriarchy… during the final countdown
Bloomlife: The Smart Pregnancy Wearable
Founded in 2014 by men who have no idea what a contraction feels like, Bloomlife has taken in $4 million to develop a clinically validated wearable that tracks contractions in real time, and compiles the information in a user-friendly mobile app.
How it works: Snap the Bloomlife sensor into an adhesive patch, stick the sensor to your belly (must be pregnant for best results), and leave it in place for up to 7 days, syncing it to the app via Bluetooth as often as you want to view your data.
Why it matters: Admittedly, first-time moms are about as clueless as dudes when it comes to recognizing and tracking preliminary contractions. Some expecting mothers get frequent non-productive contractions (think: annoying muscle spasms that you’re not allowed to get excited about) and many call their OB office wondering when to head to the hospital. Being able to report the strength and duration of contractions can mean the difference between chilling at home distracting yourself with Call The Midwife, and going to the hospital with false hopes (and heading home, still pregnant, with a fresh pint of ice cream.) Bloomlife is accurate enough to be reassuring, and reliable enough to not waste a woman’s time, so she can focus on more important things, like civil litigation, or whatever you’re into.
Bloomlife is a subscription service, which makes sense. Interesting fact: women are not actually pregnant for very long. You choose a start date, and receive your kit in the mail mid-pregnancy. After your baby arrives, customers return Bloomlife in the same box, free shipping.
Cost: $49 for initial setup, and $24 per week until birth.
Smashing the Patriarchy… during the pumping phase
Moxxly: The Smart Breast Pump
Founded in 2014, San Francisco startup Moxxly is working on smart products for modern moms, starting with a high-performance breast pump system.
How it works: For the less-experienced, or non-breasted readers, let’s start with the basics: a breast pump is a mechanism that extracts milk from the breast of a lactating mother, so she can bottle it up for later use for whatever she wants. Usually, it’s bottle-fed to a baby.
Moxxly’s breast pump add-on, The Flow, fits inside of any bra, underneath the shirt, is hands-free, and comes with an app that tracks your milk flow and volume so moms can be strategic about their pumping sessions. The Flow is compatible with any pump motor.
Why it matters: Holding suction cups to your breast at home is uncomfortable and inconvenient. Holding suction cups to your breast in the workplace is at least embarrassing, at most impossible. Despite the inconvenience and awkward parts of pumping, women want to give this gift to their kids, and they’re willing to do what they have to (i.e., hiding in a closet staring at baby photos to start their flow) to get it done. It’s stressful enough to drive some women to quit their job. A hands-free, discreet, strategic pumping system means that women can keep living their lives, and getting their jobs done, while collecting life-giving elixir from their bodies. Hashtag Dignity.
The Moxxly Flow is preparing to hit the market “relatively soon.”
Smashing the Patriarchy… growth and beyond
Totohealth: Tracking Milestones
Founded in 2014, Nairobi-based startup Totohealth has taken in $1 million to develop a method of mobile message exchange that can help parents detect developmental abnormalities in children, and improve the access to healthcare information for remote and vulnerable populations.
How it works: The Totohealth program allows parents and caregivers to keep track of childhood development using a set of science-based indicators, and also links them to the right health care service providers for treatment and guidance if necessary. Totohealth actively sends out timely text messages based on your stage of pregnancy or age of your child, highlighting warning signs that you may need to seek medical attention.
Why it matters: The health of children, from conception to adulthood, depends on the right combination of education and access to care. Moms love to compare their kids to the neighborhood prodigy (she was born with a collegiate vocabulary!) but few know the specific milestones they should be tracking, or when exactly they need to take action. In remote or vulnerable areas, this is an even bigger issue. Though frequent doctor visits and long lists of overcautious questions are common in the United States, other areas don’t have the same level of face time with medical professionals. Totohealth reaches out to these areas, improving health outcomes of vulnerable communities.
Among others, Totohealth is currently backed by Microsoft, and has a subscription of 32,132 subscriptions in six different countries.
People are invested in getting new female-geared tech on the market… literally. Fertility and pregnancy continue to be a big target market, since we’re still pretty big on perpetuating our own species. But other areas of women’s health, including period care, are inspiring a number of new startups. These companies are smashing the patriarchy, and proving that the world of tech isn’t just a boys club, one flushable, biodegradable, discreet, unit of empowerment at a time.
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