Over the course of this year we have seen a huge rise in the Femtech movement. For those new to the terminology, femtech is comprised of anything that, according to VentureBeats, “primarily addresses women’s health, including fertility solutions, period-tracking apps, pregnancy and nursing care, women’s sexual wellness, and reproductive system health care”. This is a major departure from the traditional tech scene that has been dominated by male-oriented product designs and applications.
By no means do we believe women that should/can only be involved in producing technology that is specifically gender-oriented. It is incredibly exciting though that the rise in interest and financial support for femtech has allowed female leaders to take the helm of new startups and make huge inroads in this market. CB Insights has estimated that since 2014, over 45 femtech startups have collectively raised 1.1 billion in funding. This figure continues to grow as the number of startups falling within this category accelerates.
At Junto Health we were lucky to have the chance to speak with the woman who coined the term “femtech”, Ida Tin, who is the CEO and co-founder of the female health application Clue.
Clue was founded in Berlin, Germany in 2013 when this technology movement first began to rise and has since grown its membership and reach. With a belief that “connected mobile technology is the future of female health”, Clue enables users to share information regarding menstrual cycles with partners, family, and friends. Ida took time to explain why this was an important aspect of the app’s design, and also how Clue is continuing to grow.
Junto Health (JH): Where did the inspiration to develop Clue come from? How did the you and you co-founder Hans decide to work together on such a venture?
Ida Tin (IT): Personal experience was really the reason I developed Clue. Reproductive health is an incredibly foundational and central part of our lives, but there’s a real lack of clarity for women over this generally. That starts the moment a woman has her first period and manages that part of her life and continues as she chooses if and what birth control method to use. When I was about 30 the pill wasn’t working well for me and I realized that there had been little innovation in this space for the past 50 years.
Reproductive health is something that concerns both men and women. It is an instrumental part of both mine and Hans’ life - as my partner, and now the father of my children. He was, and is, as passionate about Clue as me - it therefore seemed natural that he would be part of this venture.
JH: Did you always plan on working in the health tech field?
IT: I have always been curious about women's health and was a Quantified Self person (someone who incorporates technology and data analysis into their daily life) long before I knew the term. These were the drivers to launch Clue - an app that could clue people in with personalized health data to give them awareness of the unique patterns in their bodies and their cycles.
JH: What are the main reasons the lead someone to utilize Clue Connect? What type of feedback have you received on this feature?
IT: We want to make it easier for everyone to talk about menstrual health, and another way in which we try to encourage people to communicate more openly is through Clue Connect. Our cycle-sharing feature can provide a useful tool for making the menstrual cycle a natural part of conversation with the people around us.
For people in relationships, sharing data can make it easier for them to talk about periods, mood swings, and possible times they can become pregnant. It helps couples plan life’s big and small decisions together, and so it can bring couples closer during an important part of life.
As well as romantic partners, Clue Connect is a great way for friends and sisters to share cycle information with each other. It can take some of the awkwardness out of talking about periods, fertile windows and PMS, and can help users feel closer and more connected by their shared life experiences - no matter how much time or distance there is between them.
This is a feature that has been repeatedly requested by numerous users, and which we believe really paves the way for the next stage in tracking, sharing, and quantifying personal health data in a practical and useable way.
JH: With many different menstrual cycle tracking application available online, what differentiates Clue from the rest of the pack?
IT: Clue is about more than simply knowing when your period is coming. It helps you track and discover the patterns in your cycle that impact your daily life, so you can gain a better understanding of your overall health. Additionally, all the content in Clue is backed up by the latest scientific research, so you know you are getting the most trustworthy, accurate information about your health.
JH: Have you faced any challenges trying to promote an application that is focused on women’s health in this current, fraught political climate?
IT: Of course. The biggest challenge since Clue's launch directly relates to the lack of resources women have when it comes to their health - whether due to a lack of scientific research or due to societal taboos. This is still a very new space with a ton of potential because every woman in the world faces the realities that come with menstruation, fertility and overall health. Many people don't have the tools to discuss this fundamental and important part of life. Some even considered it "niche" or avoided the subject altogether. Paving the way for an entirely new space, Femtech, and opening up the dialogue globally has been one of the biggest, and most exciting, challenges we've faced building Clue.
JH: What are some things that you think should be done to improve discussions regarding women's health?
IT: Despite significant advancements, menstrual health is still somewhat considered a “niche” topic. We believe that we need move away from this notion entirely, and open up the conversation around this significant part of people’s lives.
There is much to be gained from increased knowledge of a person’s menstrual cycle, not just for men but for women also. The menstrual cycle is much more than just a monthly bleed, it is an indicator of overall health, and so becoming better educated not only about menstruation in general, but an individual’s unique cycle, can enable a person to become more in tune with their body and how their cycle affects
JH: What are the next 3 milestones for Clue?
IT: Clue’s ongoing goal is to continue advancing research into female health, and to make basic information about reproductive health more accessible.