From pregnancy to breast cancer, four femtech startups to watch out for

These femtech startups are making best use of modern tech to solve specific problems in women’s health.
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The Indian startup ecosystem is beginning to sense the importance of women’s health that has long gone under the radar. Entrepreneurs may finally be realising that the market scope is rich - both in terms of need and size - as women make up more than half of India’s population. 

According to financial data and research company Pitchbook, the global femtech industry made a revenue of $820.6 in the year 2019 with venture capitalists pumping in $592 million in the same year.

In India’s nascent femtech industry, these startups are addressing a wide range of health concerns ranging from breast cancer to PCOS and overall happiness and well-being.

Niramai

Bengaluru-based Niramai has made a breakthrough in women’s health with its non-invasive, radiation-free, and low-cost breast cancer screening technology  Thermalytix. 

It leverages Artificial Intelligence (AI) and a high-resolution thermal sensing device to measure the temperature of the chest region to detect early-stage breast cancer accurately. 

Founded in 2016 by Geetha Manjunath and Nidhi Mathur, the startup has raised a total funding of $14 million so far. During the pandemic, it launched a home-based screening service as well. 

Last month, it raised research funding from UK-based development finance institution and impact investor CDC for NIRAMAI FeverTest, which was launched last year to enable screening for COVID-19 symptoms at scale.

In 2019, Bill and Melinda Gates backed the startup to develop a cure for AI-based software to control the spread of River Blindness, which had affected 17 million people in Africa.

(From L to R clockwise) Evelyn Immanuel, Founder of Ava; Rajpreet Kaur, Founder of Say Cheese; Sivareena Sarika, Founder of PregBuddy; Geetha Manjunath and Nidhi Mathur, co-founders of Niramai;

Say Cheese

For Rajpreet Kaur, juggling corporate work and being a dutiful mother resulted in bouts of guilt and emotional swings. 

In December 2020, she founded Frenztastic (Say Cheese is the brand name) to make a meaningful difference in the lives of Indian women by helping them navigate the triangle of influence – career, relationships, and health.

Claiming to be the LinkedIn for women, the Mumbai-based platform designs a personalised journey for each user and measures her happiness levels through its proprietary assessment tool, Happiness Evaluation report (HER). It also recommends coaching services and technology-enabled modules to address the root cause of challenges.

Although open to all women, it began by rolling out the services to working  women and students doing their master’s between the age group of 24 and 42 years of age from the top 10 cities across India. With more than 3,500 users registered so far, it has inked a multi-year agreement with its strategic marketing partner Kritical Edge Consulting (KE).

In March this year, Say Cheese received its first round of funding from Sydney-based angel investor and entrepreneur Naved Khan. 

Ava

A staggering 20 percent (one in five) of Indian women suffer from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a health condition with symptoms like irregular period, weight gain, and infertility among others. 

For Bengaluru-based lifestyle management platform Ava, PCOS became its first focus before diversifying into other chronic health conditions among women. The femtech startup offers a paid PCOS programme subscription ranging from three to 12 months.

Founded in December 2019 by Evelyn Immanuel, the platform aims to be every woman's wellness buddy by promoting a disciplined and holistic approach by offering curated programmes and personalised plans to help them deal with various health conditions like PCOS, thyroid, and insulin resistance, among others.

Ava puts together a personalised team of doctors, nutritionists, fitness coaches, dermatologists, and psychologists for each individual to focus on reversing the symptoms. Having started first on Instagram, Ava has built a safe community for women to discuss their health concerns.

Started with an initial investment of Rs 10 lakh, the startup raised its first undisclosed institutional cheque through 100x.vc in 2020.

PregBuddy

Sivareena Sarika saw the lack of information and support for pregnant women when her cousin suffered from a miscarriage in the fourth month of her pregnancy. 

Teaming up with her friend and IIT Kharagpur alum Subhadeep Mondal, the duo first formed a WhatsApp group in 2016 where expectant mothers can connect over their doubts and avail expert advice regarding pregnancy.

A YourStory’s 2018 Tech 30 startup, Bengaluru-based PregBuddy is now a peer-to-peer reassurance platform that offers personalised care to women making health experts and doctors available from the preconception stage to the early years of motherhood. 

Bootstrapped with Rs 10 lakh, the startup raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding from Indian Angel Network in 2018.

Edited by Megha Reddy

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