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07/30/19

Past Issues

The business of fitness and wellness.

Women’s Health Revolution

 
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A new generation of femtech startups is prioritizing women’s health and seizing a multi-billion-dollar market in the process. 

What it is: The femtech sector is centered on women’s health, including fertility solutions, pregnancy and nursing care, menstrual care, sexual wellness, and reproductive healthcare. 

From new-age clinics and mobile apps to wearables and DTC medical testing, there’s a growing number of startups working to address the numerous pain points associated with women’s health, especially as it relates to fertility. 

As a result, the global fertility services market is expected to exceed $50B by 2025. And TechCrunch has the broader femtech market on pace to secure nearly $1B in investment by year-end, surpassing last 2018’s record of $650M. 

Contributing factors: A number of determinants impacting healthcare, entrepreneurship, and a shift in overarching cultural norms have led to this moment. 

Women have become increasingly disappointed with and distrustful of a healthcare system that fails to address their needs. Now, instead of relying on the male-dominated healthcare industry, a new era of female entrepreneurs have taken it upon themselves to create the products and services they demand. 

Like healthcare, women are similarly underrepresented in Silicon Valley and venture capital. This has made it difficult for female-led companies and female-focused solutions to gain traction. Although this issue is far from rectified—female-founded startups in the US raised just 2.2% of venture capital investment in 2018, and only 11% of all US VCs are women—femtech has nevertheless emerged as an industry ripe for investment and innovation. 

Meanwhile, as Millennials and Gen Z wait longer to buy homes, wed, or start a family, women are seeking more control in the decision-making process surrounding when and how to reproduce. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 10% of US women have trouble conceiving, and 7M women (12% of American women of reproductive age) have sought fertility treatment services.

Surveying the landscape, more than 200 startups worldwide fall under the femtech category. 

  • Prelude Fertility ($200M in funding), Future Family ($114M), Progyny ($49M), Carrot Fertility ($15.2M), and Kindbody ($22M) are among the companies focusing on IVF, egg freezing, and medical treatments for female infertility. 
  • Dayima ($70.5M), Clue ($30M), and Glow ($23M) have created mobile apps for self-tracking menstrual and fertility cycles. 
  • Maven and Tia are working on more personalized and integrative solutions that combine telemedicine and clinic-based services. 
  • And the list goes on. From period care companies like Lola ($11M) and Cora to Nuelle, a sexual wellness startup, the women’s health category is evolving in real-time. 

Looking ahead: It’s important to note that many of the companies mentioned have only secured seed and Series A funding. As the industry continues to develop, the trend of larger, late-stage funding rounds and billion-dollar valuations are starting to seem inevitable.  

As Elina Berglund, co-founder of Stockholm-based digital birth control startup Natural Cycles, elaborated in an interview, women’s health “has been under-researched, underdeveloped and underfunded. But that’s starting to change. 

Unity Stoakes of StartUp Health echoed that sentiment, telling Fast Company, “It’s actually surprising that it’s taken so long, considering how big the market opportunity is and how great the need is.” He concluded, “it’s still wide open.”

Headlines & Happenings

💪 DTC Fitness 

Add another company to the Peloton of “X” list. Pivot, an at-home fitness device, emerged from stealth mode last week. 

What it is: This Mirror-like device combines streaming classes with a built-in 3D camera. As users perform their workout, sensors will monitor their movements and, if they’re performing an exercise incorrectly, the device will alert Pivot’s trainers who can provide real-time instruction. 

  • The company raised $17M in Series A funding led by DCM.
  • The focus will be strength training, high-intensity interval training, and cardio classes.
  • The device will cost around $2,000, plus a $39/month subscription.


Timing is everything. Founded in 2015, Pivot debuted as SmartSpot. While the core concept was similar to its current form, a 3D camera and virtual personal trainer, the device was originally sold to gyms. Initially, Pivot’s CEO Moawia Eldeeb thought the product was too pricey for the individual consumer. But, as Peloton validated the at-home market and gym owners soured on SmartSpot because members chose the device over high-margin personal training, Pivot found a new path forward. 

As the company literally “pivots”, going direct to consumer and phasing out SmartSpot, it does so with a treasure trove of proprietary data, software, and machine learning technology. According to the company, SmartSpot’s B2B product captured “the largest dataset of humans working out.” Armed with this information, Pivot plans to differentiate itself from the competition by providing the most accurate form-tracking and real-time feedback among connected fitness companies.

👀 Be On The Lookout 

Clean Market, a Manhattan-based all-things-wellness destination, is making moves. 

Step inside. This upscale shop combines all the most popular aspects of wellness under one roof. The market offers clean beauty and skin products, apothecary items, and supplements. A cafe-style functional food and tonic bar serves superfood smoothies, bowls, power shots, and lattes featuring mix-ins from partners like Moon Juice. Plus, the space also features a thermo-therapy lounge complete with infrared saunas and cryotherapy treatments, as well as a vitamin IV drip lounge. 

The A-team. Jeffrey Weinhaus, president and chief development officer at Equinox, teamed up with cookbook author and Clean Food Dirty City blogger Lily Kunin to start Clean Market. The company’s early backers and seed investors are a who’s who of fitness, wellness, and real estate players including, 

  • Equinox chief executive Harvey Spevak
  • Able Partners, a venture capital firm founded and run by Lisa Blau and Amanda Eilian.
  • Jeff Blau, CEO of the real estate firm that owns Equinox, The Related Cos.
  • Ben Schall, CEO of Seritage Growth Properties


Next up. Clean Market opened its first location in 2018 on East 54th Street in Midtown. Now shuttering the original storefront, the brand is set to open new locations at Brookfield Place in Lower Manhattan, 40 Bleecker Street, and 1177 Broadway. According to Weinhaus, after Clean Market establishes five or six NYC locations, the store will prove its model in other major markets like Boston or Dallas. Speaking with Crain’s New York Business, Weinhaus said the company is nearing a deal that would bring a Clean Market to the Vegas Strip in early-2020.

📰 WHAT WE'RE READING

  • Outdoor Voices launched a content platform called The Recreationalist. 
  • CircleUp shared its annual list of the 25 most innovative consumer brands. 
  • Pinterest introduced guided wellness activities like breathing exercises and meditations. 
  • Four New York Health & Racquet Clubs will become Life Time HRC
  • Chipotle won’t serve plant-based meat because it’s too processed.

💰 Money Moves

HipCamp, an online marketplace for booking campsites, raised $25M in Series B funding led by Andreessen Horowitz

Read more >> Fitt Insider 26, The Great Outdoors and Fitt Insider 32, The Outdoor Marketplace.

VOLAVA, a Barcelona-based connected fitness company, raised €750K ($835K USD) in Series A funding. The company currently offers a Peloton-like smart bike and plans to introduce a connected boxing product.

Liquid I.V., producer of a powdered hydration mix, raised $5M from a laundry list of celebrity investors, granting the brand access to a vast array of influencer marketing.

Everytable, the socially-conscious fast-casual chain, closed $7M in a funding round that saw the company issue debt and equity stakes.

Serenity Kids, maker of nutrient-rich baby foods, raised $1.5M led by Wild Ventures.

Flow, the UK-based medical device startup focused on at-home depression treatment, raised $1.5M in a funding round led by Khosla Ventures.

Dairy-free creamer producer nutpods closed a fundraising round with VMG Partners. The specifics of the deal were not disclosed.

PepsiCo is buying 26% of Natural Food International for $131M as it seeks to capitalize on the global health food craze.

Armando Christian Pérez, better known by the moniker Pitbull, acquired an equity stake in the Miami-based, ready-to-drink cold brew producer, MADE. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Energy bar producer Verb Energy secured $3.5M in a funding round led by Global Founders Capital, Nebari Ventures, Great Oaks Venture Capital, Supernode Ventures, and FJ Labs. The funds will be used to expand the company’s fledgling text-based commerce platform.

Emergy Foods garnered $4.8M in a funding round intended to bolster production of their proprietary plant-based protein alternative.

Germany-based LifeFit Group, majority-owned by US-based Oaktree Capital, has acquired regional operator smile X, a budget gym chain. With this addition, LifeFit counts Fitness First Germany, Barry's Bootcamp, The Gym Society, elbgym, the fitness app NewMoove, and smile X among its growing portfolio of companies.

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