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Female technology startups in S’pore: How this industry busts taboos about women’s health

In 2020, there was a increase in feminine technology (femtech) startups in Singapore. 

Femtech refers to using technology to develop software program or {hardware} merchandise, instruments, and different functions that primarily concentrate on girls’s health.

The time period was coined by and Danish entrepreneur Ida Tin in 2016. Ida can also be the founding father of Clue, a interval and fertility monitoring app.

At least eight femtech startups had been launched in 2020 alone. For instance, Ferne Health and Ease are sexual health platforms that present discreet, home-delivery STI testing and contraception choices.

Dear Doc is a one-stop healthcare resolution for ladies, whereas Fig Health is a platform that assessments for, and manages Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) by means of monitoring life-style modifications.

Fermata SG creates a web-based market for all femtech merchandise, Zazazu is a sexual wellness hub and group that goals to empower girls to personal their sexual pleasure and Good Vibes SG is a homegrown intercourse toy firm.

Last however not least, Ying Yi Wellness is a web-based wellness model that makes use of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practices to alleviate interval issues and signs. 

Name of Startup Product and Services
Ferne Health Home supply STI testing and contraception
Fig Health A platform that assessments for, and manages Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) by means of monitoring life-style modifications.
Ease Home supply STI testing and contraception
Dear Doc One-stop healthcare resolution for ladies
Fermata SG An on-line market for all femtech merchandise
ZaZaZu A sexual wellness hub and group that goals to empower girls to personal their sexual pleasure
Good Vibes SG A Singapore homegrown intercourse toy firm.
Ying Yi Wellness An on-line wellness model that makes use of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practices to alleviate interval issues and signs. 
Femtech startups launched in 2020

The rise in femtech startups could be precipitated by just a few components.

First, the Covid-19 lockdowns and work-from-home measures have given rise to the unfold of telemedicine platforms and entry to on-line healthcare from the consolation of 1’s own residence.

Next, quarantine and social distancing have resulted in an growing demand for intercourse toys for people seeking to fulfill their sexual wants at residence.

Last, the rise of the femtech startups corresponds with the viral unfold of the #metoo motion globally. The motion brings consciousness to girls’s rightful declare over intercourse and sexuality, and heralds the subsequent chapter in the feminist motion. 

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Despite the femtech industry being very nascent, it has a deep significance in direction of the financial system and society.

The significance of femtech and sextech

Femtech has more and more branched out to cowl any sort of technology enabled app, platform, or enterprise that helps gender equality in areas the place females are underrepresented.

This can embrace monetary administration, engineering, coding schooling for ladies, and the checklist goes on.

Female founders in Singapore / Image Credit: Tech in Asia

Femtech startups and merchandise are normally created by feminine founders, with feminine prospects in thoughts.

In the previous, the industry of feminine wellness and sexuality has largely been formed and determined by males, with girls having minimal say in it.

Women have additionally been traditionally excluded from medical trials and analysis geared toward creating feminine health merchandise. For instance, in the United States, it was not till 1994 that that the legislation made it obligatory for ladies and minority teams to be included in medical analysis.

However, till at present, girls are nonetheless underrepresented in medical trials analysis for brand spanking new drugs. 

When it involves sexual wellness, 75 per cent of ladies globally have by no means reached orgasm by means of sexual activity. This phenomenon is named the orgasm hole — a basic disparity between heterosexual women and men in phrases of sexual satisfaction.

This is essentially because of the truth that there’s a lack of awareness of feminine anatomy and genitalia, by each women and men.

“We have been taught growing up that female sexuality and female genitalia are associated with negative connotations,” stated Janice Lee, a sexual wellness advocate and intercourse toys advisor based mostly in Singapore.

Janice Lee / Image Credit: Rice Media

Sexual wellness startups attempt to educate the general public and assist girls personal feminine pleasure, and love their very own our bodies. 

“The rise of the femtech industry is a testament to women’s desire to claim ownership and take back power,” stated Karen Heng, founding father of The Della HQ, a content material platform that covers the world of femtech in Asia.

Femtech in Singapore

Femtech is a really new idea, and particularly so in Singapore. 

For a very long time, Singapore has had retail intercourse shops like Maison Mika and a few feminine intercourse toy manufacturers similar to Smile Makers has existed since 2013

However, the concentrate on utilizing technology to deal with particularly girls’s sexual health and wellness solely formally began in 2018. 

Spark Fest Asia was launched in 2018 by Erin Chen and Sinnead Ali and is touted as Asia’s first sexual wellness pageant. It describes itself as an occasion that brings about new conversations about intercourse, intimacy, and love by means of inspirational and informative talks, edutainment experiences, arts and services. 

The workforce additionally additionally organised the Sex Tech Hackathon, offering aspiring founders with a platform to showcase new concepts and options to feminine issues. 

Image Credit: SparkFest Asia

A slew of angel traders, traders and accelerator packages have proven assist for femtech startups in the town state.

For instance, Fig Health and Ferne health are funded by Antler Venture Capital and Iterative VC respectively, whereas She Period, a menstrual disc firm is a part of the Textile and Fashion Federation Singapore (TAFFS) style incubation cohort.

Karen informed Vulcan Post in an interview that it’s comparatively straightforward for founders to start out a femtech startup in Singapore, as there isn’t any resistance from the federal government in direction of startups underneath this class.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) has been engaged on a regulatory sandbox since 2018 for telemedicine and mobilemedicine, to create a framework for on-line and cell healthcare platforms. Especially resulting from Covid-19 pandemic, the MOH has been ramping up efforts in this space.

In February 2021, the Ministry of Health (MOH) introduced that it launched a regulatory sandbox with a framework to watch on-line and cell healthcare platforms.

Moving ahead, extra femtech startups are anticipated to mushroom up in Singapore, with extra feminine founders anticipated to journey the development. 

Barriers to the expansion of femtech

According to Karen, the primary barrier to development in the femtech area is the stigma and bias related to funding. Female founders are nonetheless grossly underfunded in every single place world wide, together with in Singapore.

In 2019, 86 per cent of fund managers globally had been males, with solely three per cent of all funding went to female-founded firms.

Boston Consulting Group (BCG) reported that ladies founders ship higher income than males founders — for each greenback raised, female-led startups generated 78 cents and male-led startups generated 31 cents in income. 

Karen Heng from The Della HQ / Image Credit: Karen Heng

Meanwhile, based on a report revealed by Allied Market Research, the worldwide sexual wellness market generated US$74.77 billion in 2019 and it’s estimated to succeed in US$108.32 billion by 2021.

In order to deal with the imbalance in funding, Karen has began a crowdfunding platform on The Della HQ for femtech founders to lift funds. 

The stigma and taboo that also surrounds the femtech and sexual wellness area may also pose challenges to such startups when scaling.

Even although they could don’t have any downside with beginning up in Singapore, mass adoption could be difficult. It may take a while to persuade girls that they should prioritise their reproductive health and sexual wellness. 

It is tougher to promote services like this brazenly as girls’s health and sexual wellness are nonetheless perceived as problematic, delicate and secretive points. 

Jingjin Liu, CEO and co-founder of ZaZaZu, stated that regardless of all odds, the sexual wellness industry in Singapore has been rising in latest years, and that the startups working in the sector are on a mission to normalise sexual wellness.

ZaZaZu Playdate Set / Image Credit: ZaZaZu

The femtech industry could be comparatively new, and it won’t develop as simply, quickly and as expansively as different less-stigmatised sectors similar to ride-hailing, social networking, or e-commerce. 

However, this sector represents an enormous untapped potential of half of the world’s inhabitants that’s getting extra social, financial, and political energy. 

Thus, it’s essential that daring entrepreneurs step as much as declare this new area and safe the first-mover benefit in the industry.

Featured Image Credit: Ease Healthcare

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