Decoding Femtech Startups Nascency In India

Read to know the challenges and opportunities for the growth of femtech startups in India.


In India, where women being vocal about menstruation is associated with a stigma, we can imagine the state of women being open about other female-related health issues. The situation is even distressing in rural India or in orthodox patriarchal families, where women’s health issues are to be kept secret and must not be disclosed to men or doctors. At times, most women are unaware of certain irregularities happening in their bodies and tend to neglect it till the disease reaches its malignant stage. 

Besides, the stigma of most gynecologists being men makes females hesitant to openly talk about their problems or feel shy when it comes to examining the body.

The onset of the pandemic has highlighted the need for a robust healthcare system. The Indian startup ecosystem witnessed several entrepreneurs plunging into the healthtech space bringing innovations in the diagnostics and doctor consultations space. Online pharma startups have leaped ahead by providing online medicines and doctor consultations from a single platform. 

With many startups emerging in the general healthcare space, sadly femtech startups are nascent in India. A femtech startup develops technological software and applications to focus on providing services and products in women’s health.

The future for femtech startups is promising as a report from Research and Markets says, that the femtech market is expected to grow at a CAGR of over 13% during 2020-2026. 

In 2019, the global femtech market generated a revenue of $820.6 million. According to PitchBook, a financial data and research company, the femtech sector globally attracted $592 million in venture capital investment.

Why Femtech industry is nascent in India 

Reluctance of Investors

Indian investors are reluctant to fund femtech startups as they perceive it to be a niche business serving a small market that cannot give high returns on investment. Also, the investor community is dominated by males, who are unwilling to talk and understand about women’s health issues and solutions. 

Cybersecurity concerns

Since femtech is about technology and apps, it poses a high risk of being vulnerable to cyberattackers exposing the details of users. 

Low Awareness

Low awareness in women about solutions that can ease the pain points of women is also a reason for its infancy. 

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The future for femtech startups is promising as a report from Research and Markets says, that the femtech market is expected to grow at a CAGR of over 13% during 2020-2026. 

Factors that can drive the femtech growth in India

Still at the nascent stage, India’s Femtech industry is expected to see new growth. Here are the growth drivers:

Working women voicing more 

As more millennial women join the workforce, they will be breaking the barriers by openly voicing women-related issues in menstruation, sexual health and hormonal changes. Social media influencers such as Dr. Tanaya under the Instagram name Dr. Cuterus are normalising talking about women’s health by openly discussing and busting the myths about sexual health and other women related health problems.  

Innovative approaches

As life becomes more sedentary, the complications in female diseases will rise, for which these femtech startups have innovative approaches that produce a quick diagnosis, hassle-free testing processes, and medical assistance at every step. 

Rise of wearables

Advancements in smart medical devices, apps and tech wearables for women will act as key growth drivers.

Convenience

In the pandemic, people have already realised the convenience of remote healthcare from the general digital healthcare platform. The emergence of femtech startups following the same approach for women will be welcomed

 Sectors where Femtech Startups have the potential to grow

  • Cervical Cancer: According to WHO (World Health Organisation) cervical cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer among women around the world. Femtech startups in cervical cancer can leverage smartphones and artificial intelligence to screen for irregularities in the cervix for further diagnosis.
  • Breast Cancer: After cervical cancer, breast cancer causes the most number of deaths in women. Lack of knowledge about its symptoms and being hesitant to talk about it results in most women ignoring the disease. Femtech startups, using AI and high-resolution screening, can detect early-stage breast cancer precisely.
  • Menstrual health: Menstrual problems consist of – PCOS ( Poly-Cystic Ovary Syndrome), hormonal imbalance and mood swings during menopause. Here, femtech startups can be a woman’s wellness buddy and curate programmes and personalised plans to help them deal with such complications. It can be a one-stop platform for nutritionists, fitness coaches, psychologists and dermatologists.
  • Pregnancy care: Entering into motherhood is a huge step for any woman. Femtech companies can cater to the needs of pregnant women by providing proper nutrition and clinical services for pregnant women.

Existing femtech startups in India 

CareMother: It is a pregnancy care femtech startup which offers personalised and remote healthcare for pregnant women to connect with gynecologists. It also provides at-door medical tests with a portable medical kit. 

CervAstra: Cervical cancer develops over a long time, goes unnoticed by the women of developing countries resulting in a high mortality rate. CervAstra is an AI-powered medtech company that detects cervical cancer. It analyses pap smear samples to detect abnormalities in a short turnaround time. The instruments used for detection are portable and will enable women to walk into the nearest primary health centre, get screened and receive reports.

Celes Care: A virtual health clinic for women’s health. They offer medical guidance and information to women through their female doctors specialised in infertility, pregnancy, thyroid, PCOS, weight control, skincare, etc.

Niramai: Offers non-invasive, radiation-free and low-cost breast cancer screening technology Thermalytix.

What lies ahead for the femtech startups in India? 

For femtech startups, the challenge lies in low awareness of such medical solutions. Most families might be ignorant of availing doctor consultations of such diseases online. So, the first step lies in increasing awareness through social media, taking educational sessions in schools and colleges for girls at their adolescent stage. 

Femtech startups into the detection of breast and cervical cancer can do B2B partnering with large public hospitals, healthcare companies, public health entities and NGOs, which have deeper distribution channels for mass screening and awareness campaigns

Moreover, femtech startups can also foray into the LGBTQ space to offer mental health and medical assistance to individuals who have undergone a recent gender change operation. They will be experiencing new hormonal changes in the body causing discomfort and anxiety.

 There lies a huge potential in serving rural women that have remained untapped for a long time. Here, femtech startups also need to develop apps in vernacular content and develop a network of assistants who can attend to their problems for pregnancy care. The potential also lies in rural public health centres for offering them femtech solutions.  

Shalmoli Sarkar
Shalmoli Sarkar
An MBA in marketing and a BTech in chemical engineering, Shalmoli writes on marketing strategies and business technology for new and aspiring entrepreneurs.

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