#DealMonitor – Dance bekommt 15 Millionen – About You plant IPO – UVC Partners legt 150 Millionen-Fonds auf


Im aktuellen #DealMonitor für den 22. Oktober werfen wir wieder einen Blick auf die wichtigsten, spannendsten und interessantesten Investments und Exits des Tages. Alle Deals der Vortage gibt es im großen und übersichtlichen #DealMonitor-Archiv.

INVESTMENTS

Dance
+++ Holtzbrinck Ventures investiert 15 Millionen Euro in das junge Berliner Mobility-Startup Dance, das von den Soundcloud-Gründern Alexander Ljung und Eric Quidenus sowie Jimdo-Macher Christian Springub gegründet wurde. Hinter Dance verbirgt sich ein Subscription-Service für E-Bikes. Schon vor dem Start investierte der Berliner Kapitalgeber BlueYard in Dance.  Zudem investierten auch Szeneköpfe wie Ilkka Paananen (Supercell), Jeannette zu Fürstenberg (La Famiglia), Kevin Ryan (Alleycorp, Doubleclick und MongoDB), Neil Parikh (Casper) und Bjarke Ingels (BIG Architects) in das sehr junge Unternehmen. Das Unternehmen ging im Juli mit einem Invite-only-Programm in Berlin an den Start.

Limehome
+++ Holtzbrinck Ventures, Lakestar und Picus Capital investieren weitere 10 Millionen Euro in das Münchner Startup Limehome. Das junge Unternehmen, das 2018 von Lars Stäbe und Josef Vollmayr gegründet wurde, mietet Wohnungen an und richtet diese als Apartments zur kurz- und langfristigen Miete ein. Lakestar, Holtzbrinck Ventures, Picus Capital und Global Growth Capital investierten erst Anfang dieses Jahres 21 Millionen Euro in Limehome.

Schrott24
+++ Statkraft Ventures, der Wagniskapitalableger des norwegischen Energiekonzerns, investiert gemeinsam mit FJ Labs sowie Gisbert Rühl, Vorstandschef des Duisburger Stahlhändlers Klöckner, 2,8 Millionen Euro in Schrott24 – siehe WiWo Gründer.  Der Altmetall-Marktplatz wurde 2016 von Alexander Schlick und Jan Pannenbäcker gegründet. Das Grazer Unternehmen sicherte sich zuletzt auch eine EU-Förderung in Höhe von 1,2 Millionen Euro.

breathe ilo
+++ Der aws Gründerfonds investiert 3 Millionen Euro in das österreichische Femtech Carbomed Medical Solutions, das den Fruchtbarkeitstracker breathe ilo anbietet. Entwickelt wurde das Gerät von dem Reproduktionsmediziner Ludwig Wildt und Medizintechniker Horst Rüther. “Nur ein Jahr nach dem Marktstart liegt der Exportanteil bei bereits 80 Prozent – mit 75 Prozent davon ist Deutschland der Hauptabsatzmarkt, wo breathe ilo seit Januar diesen Jahres verfügbar ist”, teilt das Startup mit.

Acapela
+++ Visionaries Club, Entrepreneur First und Business Angels wie Christian Reber (Pitch und Wunderlist) sowie Taavet Hinrikus (Transferwise) investieren 2,5 Millionen US-Dollar in das Berliner Startup Acapela. Das Berliner Unternehmen, das von Dubsmash-Gründer Roland Grenke und Heiki Riesenkampf, zuletzt Google, gegründet wurde entwickelt eine asynchrone Meeting-Plattform. Über die Plattform sollen Unternehmen flexibler als per Videobotschaft und persönlicher als per Slack kommunizieren können.

Peter Park
+++ Ein deutsches Family-Office investiert eine siebenstellige Summe in das Münchner IoT-Startup Peter Park. Das 2019 von Maximilian Schlereth, Florian Schaule, Patrick Bartler und Stefan Schenk gegründete Unternehmen entwickelt ein modulares Betriebssystem für Parkflächen. “Mit der neuen Finanzierung wird der Fokus auf das konsequente Wachstum des Teams gelegt, was als Fundament für die anstehende Internationalisierung dient”, teilt die Jungfirma mit.

Novum
Dr. Hettich Beteiligungen und der High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF) investieren eine siebenstellige Summe in Novum. Das 2014 in Dresden gegründete Startup entwickelt eine Technologie, die das Großspeichermonitoring von Batterien auch offline möglich macht. “Mit dem frischen Kapital soll das Produktportfolio im Bereich Großspeicher und 2nd life Schnelltests für die Automobilindustrie erweitert werden”, teilt das Unternehmen mit.

EXIT

OOTP Developments
+++ Der südkoreanische Spiele-Entwickler Com2Us, bekannt für Summoners War, übernimmt das deutsche Studio OOTP Developments. Seit 1999 setzt OOTP mit Sitz in Hollern-Twielenfleth auf PC-Sportsimulationen wie Out of the Park Baseball und Franchise Hockey Manager. OOTP stieg erst im Januar beim The Walking Dead-Studio Skybound Entertainment. Weitee Zukäufe sind geplant.

Grapevine
+++ Das Wiener Startup Orderlion, eine Bestell-App für Gastronomen und Lieferanten, übernimmt das Wein-Startup Grapevine. “Mit Grapevine kommt nun ein Startup dazu, dass bisher (der Name verrät es bereits) im Weinsegment unterwegs war und etwa 200 Winzer als Kunden aufgebaut hat” – berichtet Trending Topics. Orderlion wurde 2017 von Stefan Strohmer und Patrick Schubert gegründet. Die Jungfirma konkurriert mit Startups wie Choco, Rekki und Co.

IPO

About You
+++ Der Modeversender About You bereitet seinen Börsengang vor – siehe manager magazin. “About You, bei der letzten Finanzierungsrunde 2018 mit knapp einer Milliarde Euro bewertet, soll beim Börsengang einen Marktwert von mindestens drei Milliarden Euro anstreben. Wächst man weiter wie bisher, hoffen manche gar auf fünf Milliarden Euro”, heißt es im Bericht. Als Termin ist März 2021 anvisiert.

VENTURE CAPITAL

UVC Partners
+++ Der Münchner Kapitalgeber UVC Partners legt seinen dritten Fonds (150 Millionen Euro) auf. “Die Investorenbasis des neuen Fonds ist breit gestreut und reicht von erfolgreichen Startup-Unternehmern wie den FlixBus-Gründern über institutionelle Investoren und Family Offices bis zu Familienunternehmen und Corporates”, teilt der Geldgeber mit. UVC Partners investiert vorrangig in “herausragende europäische B2B-Startups”. Im zweiten UVC-Fonds waren 82 Millionen.

Achtung! Wir freuen uns über Tipps, Infos und Hinweise, was wir in unserem #DealMonitor alles so aufgreifen sollten. Schreibt uns eure Vorschläge entweder ganz klassisch per E-Mail oder nutzt unsere “Stille Post“, unseren Briefkasten für Insider-Infos.

Startup-Jobs: Auf der Suche nach einer neuen Herausforderung? In der unserer Jobbörse findet Ihr Stellenanzeigen von Startups und Unternehmen.

Foto (oben): azrael74

#about-you, #acapela, #aktuell, #breathe-ilo, #carbomed-medical-solutions, #com2us, #dance, #dr-hettich-beteiligungen, #dresden, #entrepreneur-first, #femtech, #fj-labs, #grapevine, #graz, #hamburg, #high-tech-grunderfonds, #holtzbrinck-ventures, #ipo, #kapital, #lakestar, #limehome, #novum, #ootp-developments, #orderlion, #peter-park, #picus-capital, #schrott24, #statkraft-ventures, #uvc-partners, #venture-capital, #visionaries-club, #wein, #wien

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Kegg, a connected fertility tracker and kegel trainer for women, launches out of beta

Fertility tracking has seen an explosion of startup activity in recent years. Femtech startup Lady Technologies is adding to this rich mix with the full U.S. launch of a dual-purpose device, called kegg, that’s designed to measure hormonal changes in a woman’s cervical fluid to help her determine the chance of conception on a given day.

The egg-shaped gizmo, which features a gold-plated steel cap and band ringing its tip, as well as a silicone tail to house its Bluetooth radio (so it can chat to the companion app), doubles as a connected pelvic floor trainer (the ‘k’ in kegg is for ‘kegels’) — taking a leaf out of UK femtech pioneer Elvie’s playbook. Though the two-in-one function is a new twist.

Kegg relies on a technology called impedance to sense electrolyte levels in a woman’s cervical fluid in order to detect the hormonal switch from estrogen to progesterone dominance that accompanies ovulation — via a daily test that’s touted as taking just two minutes. (If you’re also using it for the optional kegal exercises that would take a bit longer.)

“A minute electrical impulse at a specific frequency is emitted from the gold plated electrodes on the kegg and received by the other (this process is then reversed). By sensing the changing trends in the impedance, we’re able to detect the hormonal change and make a prediction to the user,” explains CEO and founder Kristina Cahojova. “Since every woman’s fluids are slightly different, kegg needs to record at least one fertile window to provide personalized predictions.”

“We have numerous patents on the underlying design of kegg and key aspects of how it operates,” she adds.

Kegg was unveiled on the TechCrunch Disrupt SF stage, back in 2018, as part of our startup battlefield competition (though it didn’t go on to win). Fast forward two years and it’s now officially launching out of beta to offer the FDA-registered gizmo to the U.S. market — priced at $275.

It’s announcing a $1.5M seed round too, with investors including Crescent Ridge Partners, SOSV, Texas Halo Fund, Fermata Fund and MegaForce, as well as some unnamed angel investors.

Commenting in a statement, Samina Hydery, kegg advisor and women’s health investor, said: “Investor interest in femtech and fertility has accelerated over the last few years. While I’ve seen an influx of ovulation prediction kits, at-home blood tests, menstrual tracking apps, and temperature monitors in the consumer market, kegg’s value proposition became clear once I spoke with women about their experiences trying to conceive and medical researchers in the field. It’s hard not to get excited by the various growth vectors that can expand kegg’s market in the future — from being used as a tool for natural family planning to helping monitor postpartum/perimenopausal health.”

“We pride ourselves in having almost half of our investors women,” notes Cahojova — whose inspiration for building kegg was personal; having suffered from irregular menstrual cycles herself.

“I didn’t want to be treated with hormones. When I talked to fertility instructors or a specialized fertility doctor, all they wanted to know about was my patterns of cervical fluid. Why? Because the fertile window is defined only by the presence of fertile cervical fluid, having a positive LH [luteinizing hormone] test is nice but it won’t help you get information to fix your cycles. That’s why so many fertility doctors are interested in cervical fluid and that is why so many women are told to track it with their fingers,” she explains.

“How on earth are you supposed to be able to track objectively something so important, yet, private without the help of technology? I was frustrated and angry that every company that I talked to didn’t have a solution and didn’t want to make this so needed product because it ‘would have to go into the vagina’. So I set out to make a product that would help me and women like me.”

Thus far kegg has been hitting a chord with U.S. women of reproductive age who are trying for a baby, according to Cahojova — who says her startup has built a 2,000-strong community of fertility-tracking women over kegg’s beta period.

“Our typical user is a woman in her reproductive age,” she says. “Our users are in long-term relationships or married and they likely have been actively trying to conceive for more than three months. Fifty percent are trying to conceive their first child, while the remaining are already mothers.

“Our customers have experience with BBT (body basal temperature charting) or LH tests (ovulation tests) and they are overall interested in holistic fertility and wellness, not in medication. They also prefer the convenience of kegg over other methods that either need to be worn throughout the night or used more frequently.”

Image credit: Lady Technologies

“Each woman is unique and so are her cycles,” she adds. “Unlike ovulation trackers, kegg helps women understand their fertile window and cyclical fertility and follow their own patterns. Usually women take up to six months to learn how to read cervical fluid patterns. Our customers report that kegg gives them confidence and they feel empowered. Many keggsters conceived with kegg after years of trying because kegg gave them trends beyond ovulation. Nothing makes me more happy than an email from a customer whose life changed thanks to my work and kegg.” (On that it says “several” women have reported successful pregnancies using kegg since the beta launch in 2018.)

The startup also has its eye on international expansion, including to Asia (with the support of its Japanese-market focused investor Fermata) — with a plan to launch kegg in Singapore in late October, and in Japan and Canada next year.

While the kegg has a core focus on fertility tracking (and a secondary feature as a connected pelvic floor trainer), Cahojova is excited about wider possibilities for women’s health that she hopes will be opened up as they’re able to take in and crunch more data.

Kegg users’ impedance readings are uploaded to the startup’s cloud for analysis, so its algorithms can make a personalized fertility prediction. But its website also notes it uses ‘anonymized/pseudonymized’ data for research into women’s health. (Cahojova specifies users’ personal data is never shared outside the company. “Any data we offer to researchers we work with is completed anonymized,” is her privacy promise.)

Asked what areas of research she’s hoping kegg will help advance, she tells us: “Researchers have noted that health issues can affect typical electrolyte cycles. In many of our internal studies we’ve seen examples where readings were ‘out of norm’ for the user. In case after case we found evidence of underlying health issues (for example infections) were the cause. In the future our goal is to understand how kegg can help monitor overall cervical health.”

Cahojova also says the device is being used by fertility instructors and doctors to help with monitoring their patients. “The beauty of kegg is that by having a user friendly and modern device that women like to use we can get data on changes of vaginal fluids on a large scale. With kegg data we also hope to help doctors finally answer their billion dollar question — how can they improve the quality of cervical fluid.”

“We are supportive of science and are open for research collaborations,” she adds. “We provided kegg for independent peer-reviewed clinical study under Dr.Gabriela López Armas, MD, PhD, for her research on kegg and other fertility trackers. All the participants finished the protocols in summer of 2020 and the study is to be published independently in the near future.”

While the business model for kegg is currently fixed price hardware sales, Cahojova says the startup is looking at offering subscription packages in future. “In the future, we want to offer more to our users, e.g.: connecting them to specialists to review their cycles or view of additional layers of information. Once we have enhanced services ready, we’ll look at switching to a subscription model,” she adds.

#crescent-ridge-partners, #femtech, #fertility-tracking, #gadgets, #health, #kegg, #lady-technologies, #wearables

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Elvie adds a non-electric breast pump and cups to its growing femtech portfolio

Femtech hardware maker Elvie has added a softer, hands-free breast pump that uses natural suction to its portfolio two years after launching its debut ‘next-gen’ connected breast pump.

The Elvie Curve is described as “a wearable, silicone breast pump that allows for gentle hands-free expression when feeding or pumping from the other breast — or to express full breasts” — suggesting the UK-based startup intends for it to supplement the more expensive (and electronic) Elvie Pump.

The Elvie Curve is priced at RRP £49.99 vs around £250 for the Pump. The Pump is also slightly more capacious, holding up to 5 oz of milk compared to up to 4 oz for the Curve. The Curve is similarly designed to sit discreetly inside a bra.

As the Curve uses natural suction there’s no batteries (nor connectivity) involved. But Elvie says a valve lets the user control the suction strength — for a comfortable, low effort experience.

The startup has launched another new (non-connected) device today, called the Elvie Catch (RRP £29.99). This consists of a set of two slip-proof milk collection cups to prevent leaks, also designed to fit neatly inside a bra.

Elvie says the cups can be used “during feeding, pumping or on the go”.

“Unlike many other breast shells and nipple pads, Elvie Catch sits securely in a bra to prevent leaks and is reusable, collecting up to 1 oz of breastmilk per cup so nothing goes to waste,” it adds in a press release.

Last year the London-based startup raised a $42M Series B funding round, led by IPGL, which it said would be used to support the release of four additional women’s health products. (The company’s debut product was a connected pelvic floor exerciser, which it continues to sell as the Elvie Trainer.)

Commenting on its freshly expanded portfolio in a statement, CEO and co-founder, Tania Boler, said: “Elvie Curve and Elvie Catch mark the next steps in Elvie’s mission to modernise breastfeeding and pumping products so they fit into the lives of real, modern-day mums.

“We launched the silent, wireless and wearable Elvie Pump two years ago to make pumping a hands-free experience that empowers mums to pump on their own terms. But we know that the challenges of breastfeeding go beyond pumping.

“Breast milk is liquid gold, so these products are designed to make the most of every last drop – as well as fitting seamlessly (and discreetly) into the lives of mums, like all Elvie products!”

Both new products are slated as available to buy from today in the UK and the US via Elvie’s website.

#breast-pumps, #elvie, #europe, #femtech, #gadgets, #hardware, #uk

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#DealMonitor – #EXKLUSIV Picus investiert in Avi Medical – Atlantic setzt auf Audry – Benner Holding investiert in Gindumac


Im aktuellen #DealMonitor für den 5. Oktober werfen wir wieder einen Blick auf die wichtigsten, spannendsten und interessantesten Investments und Exits des Tages. Alle Deals der Vortage gibt es im großen und übersichtlichen #DealMonitor-Archiv.

INVESTMENTS

Avi Medical
+++ Picus Capital und die UiPath-Gründer investieren in Avi Medical. Hinter dem jungen Startup stecken Vlad Lata (Mitgründer von Konux), Christoph Baumeister. (Mitgründer von nello) und Julian Kley, zuletzt BCG. “We are on a mission to elevate the patient experience and provide the best possible primary care by combining technology with a human touch”, heißt es auf der Website. Konkret möchte die Jungfirma “die ambulante Patientenbetreuung in das 21. Jahrhundert zu bringen”. Dazu entwickelt das Unternehmen  “nutzerorientierte, digitale Anwendungen, die den Austausch zwischen Patienten und Praxen erleichtern, transparenter machen und administrative Arbeiten automatisieren”. Zudem gründet Avi Medical ” allgemeinärztliche Praxen um eine ganzheitliche Betreuung abzubilden”. Hintergründe gibt es nur im ds-Insider-Podcast. #EXKLUSIV

Audry

  • Atlantic Labs investiert in Audry. Das Berliner Startup, das von Niklas Hildebrand und Eugenio Warglien geführt wird, möchte Podcastern zu mehr Reichweite verhelfen. Hinzu kommt eine AdTech-Komponente: “At Audry we enable brands to scale podcast advertising through programmatic buying”. Das Audry-Team baute vorher Boutiq, einen Influencer-Dienst auf. Hintergründe gibt es nur im ds-Insider-Podcast. #EXKLUSIV

Gindumac

  • Die Schuhe24-Macher, also die Benner Holding, investiert in Gindumac. Der Marktplatz rund mm Gebrauchtmaschinen der Metallbearbeitung und Kunststoffverarbeitung ging 2016 an den Start. Zuletzt investierte der Münchner Anlagenhersteller Krauss Maffei in das Unternehmen aus Kaiserslautern. Die Benner Holding betreibt neben Schuhe24 auch Outfits24 und WeWantShoes. Hintergründe gibt es nur im ds-Insider-Podcast. #EXKLUSIV

heartbeat medical
+++ btov Partners, Holtzbrinck Ventures und der High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF) investieren 5 Millionen Euro in heartbeat medical. Das E-Health-Startup, das eine Software anbietet, mit der der Erfolg medizinischer Behandlungen vor, während und nach der Behandlung gemessen werden kann, wurde 2014 von Yannik Schreckenberger, Sebastian Tilch, Marc Tiedemann und Yunus Uyargil gegründet. Holtzbrinck Ventures investierte 2017 bereits 3 Millionen Euro in das Startup.

trackle 
Die SchneiderGolling & Cie. Beteiligungsgesellschaft und die Pro Invest TechTalys Beteiligungsgesellschaft sowie die Altinvestoren investieren einen hohen sechsstelligen Betrag in trackle. Das junge Unternehmen entwickelt und vertreibt ein Wearable Device, das Frauen im Zyklustracking unterstützt. Mehrere Investoren und die NRW.BANK investieren bereits einen sechsstelligen Betrag in das Bonner Startup.

Pydro
+++ gigahertz.ventures investiert gemeinsam mit den Altinvestoren Genius Venture Capital und Thomas Clemens eine siebenstellige Summe in Pydro. Das Startup aus Hamburg, das 2016 gegründet wurde, hilft Wasserversorgern, ihre Wasserverluste zu minimieren. “Das Ziel der Finanzierung ist die Weiterentwicklung des energieautarken und smarten Sensors für Wasserrohrleitungen hin zur Serienreife”, teilt das Unternehmen mit.

EXITS

Emarsys
+++ Der Walldorfer Software-Konzern SAP übernimmt den österreichischen Marketing-Technlogie-Anbieter Emarsys. Das 2000 gegründete österreichische Unternehmen, das keine Umsatz- oder Gewinnzahlen veröffentlicht, beschäftigte zuletzt 800 Mitarbeiter an 13 Standorten. Zu den Kunden des Unternehmen zählen Firmen wie Puma, Sky und Bugatti. Die Private-Equity-Gesellschaft Vector Capital investierte vor fünf Jahren 33 Millionen US-Dollar in Emarsys.

Bergfex
+++ Russmedia Equity Partners übernimmt 60 % der Anteile an Bergfex, einer Tourismusplattform im Alpenraum. Die drei Gründer Markus Kümmel, Oliver Jusinger und Andreas Koßmeier bleiben auch nach der Übernahme operativ und als Gesellschafter im Unternehmen tätig. Bergfex mit Sitz in Graz gong bereits 1999 an den Start. Zu Russmedia Equity Partners gehören Investments wie erento, PaulCamper und eversports.

Achtung! Wir freuen uns über Tipps, Infos und Hinweise, was wir in unserem #DealMonitor alles so aufgreifen sollten. Schreibt uns eure Vorschläge entweder ganz klassisch per E-Mail oder nutzt unsere “Stille Post“, unseren Briefkasten für Insider-Infos.

Startup-Jobs: Auf der Suche nach einer neuen Herausforderung? In der unserer Jobbörse findet Ihr Stellenanzeigen von Startups und Unternehmen.

Foto (oben): Shutterstock

#aktuell, #atlantic-labs, #audry, #avi-medical, #benner-holding, #bergfex, #bonn, #e-health, #emarsys, #femtech, #gindumac, #heartbeat-medical, #picus-capital, #pydro, #russmedia-equity-partners, #sap, #telemedizin, #trackle

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Juno Bio launches a vaginal microbiome test kit — targeting the women’s health data gap

Entrepreneur First -backed Juno Bio has launched a home test kit for women wanting to get a better understanding of their vaginal microbiome while also contributing data to further research into women’s health.

The vaginal microbiome refers to the community of microbes and bacteria that naturally live in the vagina. Variances in the vaginal microbiome are thought to have implications for women’s health conditions — such as recurrent bacterial-vaginosis or a higher risk of contracting an STI, and even preterm birth and infertility. But a historical lack of research into women’s health issues means there’s still a long way to go to fully understand what’s going on. (Or indeed how to intervene to correct an unhealthy imbalance.)

That’s where Juno Bio wants to come in.

Last year the 2018-founded UK startup ran a study in the US that gathered samples from more than 1,000 women to build up a repository of data on the vaginal microbiome. That initial data-set underpins the commercial Vaginal Microbiome Test kit it’s launching today — at a cost of $149 (which includes free shipping).

Women who pay to be screened will receive a test kit in the post. They then carry out a sample gathering procedure at home, passing a Q-tip like swab across the walls of their vagina for around 20 seconds and sealing the sample in the tube provided (with stabilizing agents) to return it by post to Juno Bio for analysis.

Once the sample has been processed the user will be invited to log in online and view her results, with the option to book a one-on-one call with a Juno Bio “vaginal coach” to discuss the data.

It’s worth emphasizing that the startup is being careful to caveat what kind of service it’s offering.

A disclaimer on its website states the tests are “currently exclusively intended to be used for wellness purposes” — and it further adds: “The tests we offer are not intended to diagnose or treat disease, or to substitute for a physician’s consultation.”

Juno Bio confirms the test is purely a commercial offer for now — although it says it’s working on “a regulated version” so it will be able to inform clinical decision making in this area in the future, starting with the US which is its initial market focus (though test kits are also available in the UK).

“For sure we’re not replacing a doctor here,” says CEO and co-founder Hana Janebdar, in a call with TechCrunch. “There’s really two buckets of women, if you like, that tend to join the Juno Study or pre-order a test. And the first woman is someone who wants to be very proactive about her general wellness and wants to know more about her body — and this is one of the best ways that you can learn about your microbes and what that means for your vaginal wellness and your pH etc.

“The other women are women who may have had recurrent bacterial vaginosis or recurrent infections and want to know more about what it is that’s causing it potentially — and so she wants a comprehensive picture of her vaginal microbiome. Because if you go and try and figure out, right now, what is causing your bacterial vaginosis using existing methods of diagnosis they’re not always the most helpful. So while that should always be the first port of call, and women should always go to their doctor when they think they have an issue, this is an incredibly important resource when it comes to wellness for a lot of women.”

“There are 10% of women in America, for instance, who have recurrent bacterial vaginosis — which is just one condition of the vaginal microbiome. And it’s one of the highest recurrent rates in medicine,” she adds. “And partly because the diagnostics are terrible in this space.”

Another of the startup’s investors is life sciences giant, Illumina, which is providing the DNA sequencing technology it’s using to analysis the samples, per Janebdar.

“This is the first comprehensive vaginal microbiome test kit that’s available that’s next generation sequencing based,” she says of the test kit. “Obviously vaginal testing has existed for a while but no one has really used next generation sequencing — which is the technology that enables a really comprehensive picture of what all the microbes that are in the vagina are. And that’s what’s needed to A) unravel the vaginal microbiome and its impact on women’s lives and fertility and health, and then B) to give women actually the full picture of what those microbes are.”

“The conditions that have been associated with the vaginal microbiome — like BV, or recurrent yeast infections or even the downstream conditions like pelvic inflammatory disease — they’ve historically been poorly characterized. So the diagnosis that have existed to date have been [poor at determining] when and what women have these conditions and therefore what the best treatments should be,” she adds.

Janebdar says the prevailing scientific understanding has been that a Lactobacillus dominant vaginal microbiome is healthy — but more recent studies suggest a more nuanced understanding is needed.

“What’s become clear in the literature is that maybe that’s not always be the case. And also the type of Lactobacilli is important. And also there’s really important differences between the vaginal microbiomes and what healthy might look like for caucasian women vs African American women, for instance,” she notes.

Her background includes a degree in biology and a masters in biochemical engineering — including specific work on microbiome science. It was via her experience of the research field that she says she realized there was a huge gap in women’s health research.

Juno Bio CEO and co-founder, Hana Janebdar (Photo credit: Juno Bio)

“What really shocked me what that while there was this explosion of research and work and commercialization of the gut microbiome and the soil microbiome and every microbiome under the earth that you could think of the vaginal microbiome had been relatively ignored,” she says, going back to 2017-18 and her inspiration for the startup.

“It really shocked me because of all the microbiomes the vaginal microbiome was the most readily accessible, the most readily associated with the conditions that could improve women’s lives and there were so many women that have these conditions — it was really a sense of hang on, what is going on? And why is this just so incredibly ignored?” she adds. “This needs to be fixed.

“As an Afghan woman — women’s rights and the fact that women are ignored, and medical health research has been sidelined when it comes to women — it’s a very core part of my actual experience as well.

Juno Bio’s ultimate goal is to gather enough data and understanding to be able to offer “microbial interventions” that can be used to correct problematic imbalances, per Janebdar.

“One of the saddest things… is the fact that microbial interventions could work but having it in this wishy-washy, probiotic, kombucha land has meant that people haven’t fully realized it’s real potential — and it’s really exciting that in the gut microbiome space, which is analogous to us, first the first time this year you’re seeing sort of phase three approved microbial interventions for the gut. So I see the vaginal space as analogous to that. And this is the kind of stuff that the Juno data-sets will unlock.”

Those shelling out to donate their vaginal microbiome data to Juno Bio’s repository are promised it will be “anonymized” — though clearly links will be retained to some individual data points, such as age and ethnicity.

The startup’s privacy policy can be found here — where it writes: “The information we use in Research is often summarised, aggregated, or combined across a group of subjects to minimize the chance of identification.”

“In the event we require use of individual-level Personally Identifiable Information in Research or for other purposes, we will reach out to you and obtain specific consents applicable to such other use,” it adds.

Juno Bio is being advised by Dr Gregory Buck, Ph.D., who was the principal investigator on the Vaginal Human Microbiome Project (VaHMP) and the Multi Omic Microbiome Study Pregnancy Initiative (MOMS PI) — two studies that were part of the US National Institutes of Health Human Microbiome Project.

Commenting in a statement about the launch of the test kit, Buck said: “While previous studies have worked to characterize the vaginal microbiome, these studies have often been limited in population size, utilize limited gene sequences and lack metadata. As a result, present studies now lack data and a comprehensive strain bank of vaginally associated microbes. Having dedicated much of my career to researching microbiomes of the female reproductive tract, I am confident that the Vaginal Microbiome Test will create one of the richest research repositories of data for future research into vaginal health and related issues. Not only that, but it will help change the stigma around vaginal wellness for the better.”

#biotech, #entrepreneur-first, #europe, #femtech, #health, #juno-bio, #microbiome, #tc, #womens-health

0

Emjoy picks up $3M to get more women tuned into sexual self-care

Barcelona-based Emjoy, an audio app for women that sells a narrative of sexual self-care and empowerment, has picked up $3 million in seed funding led by JME Ventures, with existing investor Nauta Capital participating.

The femtech startup believes it has lit on a major opportunity to target women with sex-positive subscription audio content that’s focused on sexual empowerment, intimate education and sensuous entertainment — all wrapped in unapologetically direct digital marketing.

Nor is it alone in seeking to build a brand around such ‘female first’ audio content. (Another startup that springs to mind in this ‘mindful sex’ space is Ferly, for example.) But Emjoy reckons there’s all to play for in this nascent space — which it says is benefitting not only from progress toward female empowerment in recent years but the rise in popularity of podcasting and audiobooks.

“My inspiration for founding Emjoy is based on my personal experience and the experiences of many girlfriends of mine. All of us had normalized not climaxing when having sexual encounters,” Andrea Oliver, CEO and co-founder tells TechCrunch.

“When I began researching this I came across the pleasure gap, with some studies showing that 40% of women have some type of sexual dysfunction. Having been in the VC world and having seen the tremendous success of startups in the mental health and fitness spaces, I was shocked when I could not find an app focusing on sexual wellbeing.”

“What sets us apart from competitors is offering a broad library of both wellbeing and entertainment audios, being extremely trustworthy and reliable because of our in-house sex therapist, partnering with sexual wellbeing experts, and finally being a product company that offers more than just content,” she goes on, discussing the competitive landscape. “An example of this is our ‘Daily Routines’ feature, which allows our users to take 30-day challenges to create new habits, such as accepting their bodies.”

Oliver moved from Nauta Capital, where she’d been working with startups, to founding her own business in January 2019, along with co-founder Daniel Tamas, CTO — taking in an initial €1M from her former VC employer to get the app to market.

Emjoy launched worldwide in early 2020 and went on to clock up 80,000 registered users in its first six months. It now has 150,000 active users globally, with the U.S. and the U.K. its main markets (NB: content is currently only available in English).

Almost 10% of “recently acquired” active users paying a subscription, per Oliver.

“The women who use Emjoy are typically in their 20s, and while most are cisgender we have also received tons of positive feedback from trans and non-binary folk. Really, Emjoy is about getting to know what you like and enjoying yourself, regardless of the gender of your partner(s),” she says.

“We are building a wellbeing brand for women because we see that sexual wellbeing is a major part of overall wellbeing. We want to normalize this,” Oliver adds, nothing that Emjoy’s “wellbeing positioning” includes “entertainment content with our erotic stories”.

The startup’s team has grown to 11 people at this point — including an in-house sex therapist. Most of Emjoy’s content is produced in house at this point.

Discussing its approach to content, which the app touts as “backed by science and supervised by our in-house intimacy therapist”, Oliver says: “For each theory or guided session we try to find a scientific study to back what we say, and we work with our in-house sex therapist who creates most of the content and supervises it. We also partner with external collaborators who are experts in different fields such as sexual trauma, body acceptance, relationships etc.”

“It is important to offer science-based content because most of the sexual content that is available today, in blogs or on YouTube, for example, is very untrustworthy. We want to be a trusted and safe environment for our users,” she adds.

The new seed funding will be ploughed into making more content — with plans for additional collaborations with “leading academics, experts and influencers within the sexual wellbeing and education space” — and the overarching aim of building the “category-defining” app in the female sexual wellness space.

Asked why he’s excited about women’s sexual wellbeing audio as a category, investor Samuel Gil, partner at JME Ventures, told us the space is interesting because it’s been so overlooked.

“It has been ignored or forgotten for a very long time but that’s now changing with women being more empowered than ever,” he said, adding: “Women with sexual wellbeing issues might be reluctant to search for help in a more traditional way due to shame or friction. A digital product is ideal to broaden access to sexual wellbeing solutions.”

He also lauded the “really immersive experiences” possible with audio content which he said “facilitates content production”. (Or, well, it’s a lot easier to get erotic sounds past ‘family-friendly’ App Store review rules than hardcore visuals.)

On investing in Emjoy specifically, Gil added: “It is a nascent category with no clear leaders yet. Emjoy’s vision, ambition, and above all, execution, so far makes us believe that they are really well-positioned to take the leading position very soon.”

Asked what she believes this new rush of female-pleasure-focused audio startups are tapping into, Olivier says: “It is very much an underserved need. We go hand-in-hand with our users to help them discover their bodies, gain confidence, and explore what turns them on, among many other things. We and our users see Emjoy as a journey, with our audio content helping users explore what they like and who they are.

“We are not telling users what they should do, or how they should feel because there is no normal, there’s no ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’. Each personal experience and body is unique and Emjoy adapts to each user’s unique journey.”

“Our users are also generating new habits with Emjoy and we are becoming an everyday tool for women who want to feel more confident or want a safe, female pleasure-centric and trusted place to get in the mood, as opposed to mainstream porn,” she adds.

#apps, #emjoy, #europe, #femtech, #fundings-exits, #health, #nauta-capital, #sexual-health, #wellbeing

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#Zahlencheck – Clue-Aufbau kostete bereits 22 Millionen


Das junge Berliner Startup Clue, eine millionenschwere Zyklus- und Fruchtbarkeits-App, legt neue Unternehmenszahlen vor – und zwar den Jahresabschluss zum Geschäftsjahr 2018. Die kleine Kapitalgeber erwirtschaftete demnach vor zwei Jahren einen Jahresfehlbetrag in Höhe von rund 6,7 Millionen Euro. Im Vorjahr war der Verlust leicht höher und lag bei 6,8 Millionen. Seit dem Start im Jahre 2012 kostete der Aufbau von Clue nun bereits rund 22 Millionen.

Bis Ende 2017 flossen aber auch schon 28,7 Millionen Euro in die Jungfirma, die 2013 von Ida Tin und Hans Raffauf gegründet wurde. Zu den Investoren von Clue gehören große Namen wie NGP Capital, Union Square Ventures und Mosaic Ventures. Im Jahresabschluss finden sich auch Infos zum derzeitigen Stand der Dinge bei Clue: “Die Gesellschaft hat zur Sicherstellung der Liquidität im Geschäftsjahr 2019 vom Bestandsinvestor Union Square Ventures zwei Wandeldarlehen mit einem Betrag von insgesamt 2,5 Millionen Euro in Anspruch genommen. Mit dem Beschluss vom 17. Januar 2020 wurde die Series C Finanzierungsrunde beschlossen und am 24. Februar 2020 eingetragen. Im Rahmen der Series C wurden weitere Kapitaleinlagen von mehreren Bestandsinvestoren geleistet und des Weiteren die Wandeldarlehen gewandelt. Einschließlich neuer Investoren ermöglicht die Series C Finanzierungsrunde eine Erhöhung der Kapitaleinlagen um insgesamt 13,5 Millionen Euro. Bis einschließlich 31. März 2020 sind bereits 9,6 Millionen Euro investiert und eingegangen. Die verbleibenden 4,0 Millionen Euro sind noch keinem Investor fest zugeordnet und die Gesellschaft hat 90 Tage zur Auswahl dieses Investors / dieser Investoren”. Darüber hinaus braucht das Startup 2021 aber weiteres Geld.

Zu den anderen Fakten rund um das FemTech: Nach eigenen Angaben verfügt Clue bereits über mehr als 10 Millionen Nutzerinnen. 2018 wirkten durchschnittlich 50 Arbeitnehmer für Clue. Im Vorjahr waren es 48.

Fakten aus dem Jahresabschluss 2018
* Die Gesellschaft weist zum Abschlussstichtag die Größenmerkmale einer kleinen Kapitalgesellschaft im Sinne des § 267 Abs. 1 HGB auf.
* Ausweislich der Liquiditätsplanung der Geschäftsjahre 2019 – 2021 ist die Gesellschaft weiterhin auf die Bereitstellung neuer Liquidität durch bestehende und neue Kapitalgeber angewiesen, da das Dienstleistungsangebot sich weiter im Aufbau befindet.
* Die Gesellschaft hat zur Sicherstellung der Liquidität im Geschäftsjahr 2019 vom Bestandsinvestor Union Square Ventures zwei Wandeldarlehen mit einem Betrag von insgesamt 2,5 Millionen Euro in Anspruch genommen. Mit dem Beschluss vom 17. Januar 2020 wurde die Series C Finanzierungsrunde beschlossen und am 24. Februar 2020 eingetragen. Im Rahmen der Series C wurden weitere Kapitaleinlagen von mehreren Bestandsinvestoren geleistet und des Weiteren die Wandeldarlehen gewandelt. Einschließlich neuer Investoren ermöglicht die Series C Finanzierungsrunde eine Erhöhung der Kapitaleinlagen um insgesamt 13,5 Millionen Euro. Bis einschließlich 31. März 2020 sind bereits 9,6 Millionen Euro investiert und eingegangen. Die verbleibenden 4,0 Millionen Euro sind noch keinem Investor fest zugeordnet und die Gesellschaft hat 90 Tage zur Auswahl dieses Investors / dieser Investoren.
* Das Interesse am Markt ist groß, was dem zunehmenden Bewusstsein für Frauengesundheit geschuldet ist. Dennoch wird die Gesellschaft im ersten Quartal 2021 auf die Bereitstellung weiterer Liquidität durch Kapitalgeber angewiesen sein. Deshalb begann die Gesellschaft im August 2019 damit, sich bei Startup-erfahrenen Darlehensgebern wie der Europäischen Investitionsbank, der Silicon Valley Bank und bei Kreos Capital Angebote einzuholen, um weiteres Kapital für Wachstum zu sichern.

Clue im Zahlencheck

2018: 6,7 Millionen Euro (Jahresfehlbetrag)
2017
: 6,8 Millionen Euro (Jahresfehlbetrag)
2016: 4,7 Millionen Euro (Jahresfehlbetrag)
2015: 2,4 Millionen Euro (Jahresfehlbetrag)

Startup-Jobs: Auf der Suche nach einer neuen Herausforderung? In der unserer Jobbörse findet Ihr Stellenanzeigen von Startups und Unternehmen.

Foto (oben): Clue

#aktuell, #berlin, #clue, #femtech, #reloaded, #zahlencheck

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Willow, the startup making the wearable breast pump, raises $55 million

Willow, the startup company making a new, wearable, breast pump for women, is capping off a frenetic 2020 with $55 million in fresh funding as it looks to expand its product line to more offerings for new mothers.

The company is coming off a year which saw sales increase, and Laura Chambers, the former eBay and Airbnb manager, take over as chief executive and now, with the new capital, it expects to be bringing new products to market beyond the breast pump in 2021.

A March 2020 report from Frost & Sullivan put the total size of the femtech market, including technologies for mothers, at just over $1 billion with growth rates of 12.9%. So the category is small, but growing quickly as more tools come in to provide services in what is a woefully underinvested sector. Indeed, the $155 million that Willow has raised to date puts the company among the upper echelon of women’s health investments.

Contrast that figure with Ro, the storied health brand that launched its subscription medication service for erectile dysfunction with an $88 million investment round.

For women who breast feed, the problems associated with pumping can be legion.

“A lot of women talk about how it’s almost like the pump runs their life,” Naomi Kelman, the founder and former CEO of Willow, told TechCrunch. “Everyone is told, if you don’t breastfeed or pump on a regular basis, your [breastmilk] supply goes down and then breastfeeding is finished for you.”

That’s why startup companies like Willow and Naya Health, as well as established companies like Medela and Lansinoh are developing technologies to not only make pumping breast milk more efficient, but also provide more comfort and dignity to users.

“Through our longstanding relationship with Willow, we’ve been able to see the true impact they have had in helping mom’s balance motherhood in a modern world,” said Josh Makower, Willow’s co-founder and chairman of the company’s board, as well as a General Partner at Willow investor, NEA, in a statement. “Willow is thriving and growing to meet the needs of all moms during these unique times, and we are proud to be a partner in advancing innovation in the femtech field.”

With Chambers at the helm, and the $55 million in new financing in hand from investors led by NEA, Meritech Capital Partners, and including Lightstone Ventures along with new investor Perceptive Advisors, Willow will be doing far more than just making breast pumps and will be looking to expand its footprint to international markets.

“The first problem we wanted solve was pumping and the wonderful wearable mobile pump. That was always product number one. There’s more innovation we can do around pumping. Moms would love us to support them with more hardware and more software,” Chambers said. We’re also working with moms to figure out where else they need support. Mothers are remarkably unsupported in their motherhood journey. We are working with moms to figure out what’s important for them and we’re building that.”

#airbnb, #breast-pump, #ebay, #femtech, #health, #laura-chambers, #meritech-capital-partners, #naya-health, #nea, #perceptive-advisors, #tc, #willow

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Femtech poised for growth beyond fertility

The market for female-focused health products (aka ‘femtech’) is set for growth via segmentation, per an analyst note from PitchBook which identifies opportunities for entrepreneurs to target a growing number of health issues that specifically affect women or affect women in a specific way — broadening out from a traditional focus on reproductive health.

Femtech remains a “significantly underdeveloped” slice of healthtech, according to the analysis, which highlights the disparity between how much women spend annually on medical expenses — estimated at ~$500BN — vs how little healthcare R&D is targeted specifically at women’s health issues (a mere 4%).

Last year the global market for female-focused health products generated $820.6M, per the note, and is estimated to reach at least $3BN by the end of 2030. While it says femtech posted $592.1M in VC investment in 2019, slightly down on 2018’s $620.3M. But so far this year it’s racked up $376.2M in VC across 57 deals — putting it on pace to match 2019’s funding levels.

Areas of growth opportunity PitchBook sees for femtech outside its traditional focus on reproductive health are: Endometriosis, a painful disorder of the womb lining affecting one in 10 women; what it calls “personalized and female-oriented approaches to general health & disease management”, with a specific focus on heart health, pain management, and diabetes and weight management within that; and the life-stage transition of the menopause.

“While we still view femtech as a niche industry, we believe secular drivers could help propel new growth opportunities in the space,” write analysts Kaia Colban and Andrew Akers. “These include the increasing representation of women in the venture-backed technology community, rising awareness and acceptance of women’s health issues, and the growing prevalence of infectious diseases among women in some countries in Africa and Asia.

“Furthermore, while the majority of femtech products have traditionally focused on reproductive health, we believe new approaches to women’s health research will help open the door to new products and services.”

Expansion of the vertical is being driven by universal growth of the personalized medicine industry — which PitchBook notes is expected to reach $3.2TR by 2025, registering a CAGR of 10.6% over the forecast period.

While the massive underrepresentation of women in the venture community goes a long way to explaining the relative lack of attention investors have paid to products addressing women’s health — with the note acknowledging pitching to male investors remains a challenge for femtech startups — it suggests investors have also been cool on the subcategory because of a relatively poor track record of “sizable” exits.

“Only six femtech exits were completed in 2019; however, this still represents a 64% increase in exit value compared to 2018,” it writes. “The largest exits in recent years include Progyny’s $130M IPO and Procter & Gamble’s acquisition of This is L. for $100M. Progyny’s stock has roughly doubled in the eight months since it went public.”

PitchBook says it expects just 14% of VC to go toward female-founded startups this year — further noting that only 17% of startups have at least one female founder. (For femtech startups the figure is considerably higher — yet still only 69% of those PitchBook tracks; NB, this does not include startups building products targeted at women where there isn’t a medical need, such as skincare & beauty etc.)

“However, we believe these barriers may be subsiding as male investors begin to recognize the femtech market opportunity and as the VC world becomes more gender-diverse,” it adds, noting that female-founded companies deliver over twice as much per dollar invested than their male-owned counterparts which it reckons could help to turn more investors’ heads.

Other key industry growth drivers the note points to are a conducive regulatory environment; a rise in preventative medicine & holistic health; and advancements in health technology that have made personalized products more accessible and affordable, such as AI and “cloud-based infomatics”.

On the M&A front, PitchBook notes this is most common for femtech startups in the general health & wellness category. And while most remain single-product companies it says it expects a maturing femtech industry to lead to product diversification — “potentially driven by M&A” — noting recent examples of pregnancy-focused apps tapping into the menopause market, which it says suggests an expanding opportunity for fertility startups.

#africa, #artificial-intelligence, #asia, #femtech, #health, #healthcare, #medical-technology, #procter-gamble, #startups, #womens-health

0

Our 11 favorite companies from Y Combinator’s S20 Demo Day: Part I

Startup incubator and investment group Y Combinator today held the first of two demo days for founders in its Summer 2020 batch.

So far, this cohort contains the usual mix of bold, impressive, and, at times, slightly wacky ideas young companies so often show off.

This was Y Combinator’s second online demo day, its first all-virtual class and the first time that it held live, remote pitches. The event largely went well, with founders dialing in from around the globe to share a few paragraphs of notes and a single slide. There were few technical hiccups, given the sheer number of startups presenting.

But if you are not in the mood to parse through dozens (and dozens) of entries detailing each startup that showed off its problem, solution, and growth, the TechCrunch crew has collected our own favorites based on how likely a company seems to succeed and how impressed we were with the creativity of their vision. For each entry, one staffer made the call that the startup in question was among their favorites.

We’re not investors, so we’re not pretending to sort the unicorns from the goats. But if what you need is a digest of some of the day’s best companies to get a good taste of what founders are building, we have your back.

ZipSchool and Hellosaurus

Natasha Mascarenhas

The next wave of edtech startups is entering a market that demands a better remote-learning solution for younger learners. But that’s the obvious product gap, one that is already being tackled by the biggest names in the booming category.

The non-obvious product-market deficit is how teachers, also impacted by the pandemic, are searching for new ways to interact with students. Teachers are collaborating and cross-pollinating on successful lesson plans that work across stale Zoom screens, so why not monetize that same content?

#ecommerce, #education, #entrepreneurship, #femtech, #finance, #health, #online-classes, #online-learning, #payments, #stanford, #startups, #tc, #teacher, #video, #y-combinator, #yc-demo-day

0

Demand for fertility services persists despite COVID-19 shutdowns

In 2019, the global fertility services industry was estimated to be worth $14.8 billion with demand driven by the significant growth in the median age of first-time mothers, according to a Research & Markets report.

Gina Bartasi, founder and CEO of NYC-based fertility center Kindbody, has pointed to macroeconomic trends responsible for the industry’s consistent growth, such as the increase in single mothers by choice and the fact that “heterosexual couples are waiting to have children and waiting to get married, and more and more same-sex couples are having children, which is relatively new.”

Regardless of the increasing demand, disasters can disrupt fertility services: On March 17, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine directed U.S.-based fertility clinics to avoid initiating new treatments, push back nonemergency surgeries and shift care to telemedicine.

Now reopened, it’s undeniable that COVID-19’s national impact could alter the space as different types of crises have in the past. In looking back, we can find a better understanding of what the future holds.

After the terror attacks on September 11, 2001, a University of Louisville study found that there was “a prompt and significant increase in births and birthrates in the post-9/11 period” in New York City. Relatedly, when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in August 2005 and created the nation’s costliest natural disaster, it was also one of five times since 1987 that frozen embryos were evacuated and protected during a natural disaster.

According to a study done by University of Wisconsin, “following Katrina, displacement contributed to a 30% decline in birth cohort size. Black fertility fell, and remained 4% below expected values through 2010. By contrast, white fertility increased by 5%.” The communities were so ravaged that the area’s Black population has remained substantially smaller.

#biotech, #coronvavirus, #covid-19, #extra-crunch, #femtech, #fertility-tech, #gina-bartasi, #health, #kindbody, #market-analysis, #startups

0

Building and investing in the ‘human needs economy’

The entrepreneurial and investor focus of the last decade has largely been centered on increased convenience and consumerism, and has encouraged companies to prioritize scaling, with little care for how it affects stakeholders, employees, consumers and even the environment. We have been talking about a shift for some time, but now more than ever, it has become obvious that companies have to take humanity into account as they build and scale in this new paradigm.

The last 10 years of startup growth have been about building and investing in these “nice to haves.” We believe the next 10 years will be focused on building and investing in “need to haves,” and the greatest business opportunities will be found in what we at Human Ventures call The Human Needs Economy — products and services that have material impact on basic needs and livelihoods and address a core draw on a consumer’s time, money or energy. For 2020, we are focusing on solving problems within three categories that we believe will have a huge impact on the Human Needs Economy: health and wellness, the future of work and community.

As the first category of the Human Needs Economy, we outline the opportunity within health and wellness and specific areas in which we are excited to build and invest.

Health and wellness

Looking back at a decade focused on scaling nice to haves, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that we are living with unaddressed health and wellness issues. And the statistics are staggering. In 2019, an estimated 47.6 million adults (19% of the country) had a mental illness, but only 43% received any kind of mental health care. When it comes to sexual and reproductive health, whole populations of minorities and underrepresented groups receive subpar care and face stigma around health issues. And we’re on track for a shortage of 120,000 doctors in the U.S. by 2030, a signal that these issues are set to get worse. (The United States’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how dangerous this is in a crisis.)

These challenges and others represent what we call the wellness deficit — the sum of the human needs that have gone unmet in the areas of health and wellness. And even though it may seem that every block has a new boutique fitness studio popping up or everyone you know has the latest wearable to measure their sleep, we believe we are just at the starting line when it comes to making up ground and building great businesses that tackle these issues.

Below are 10 areas that are poised to make up this wellness deficit:

#column, #consumer-products, #extra-crunch, #femtech, #food, #health, #health-services, #human-ventures, #market-analysis, #mental-health, #social, #startups, #telehealth, #telemedicine, #united-states, #venture-capital

0

Origin wants to make accessible physical therapy women’s new normal

“I spend a lot of time being angry — but I’m still hopeful. Gender bias in medicine is systemic,” says Carine Carmy, the fast-talking CEO and co-founder of Origin, during a condensed chat about her startup mission to make physical therapy for women and mothers accessible and affordable across the US, both online and through a network of physical clinics.

The unexpected arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic led the LA-based startup to rework and accelerate its original launch plan — shifting its first focus to getting a telehealth service up and running fast.

They launched a “virtual care” service at the end of last month — offering “non-invasive, affordable care for commonly overlooked health issues”, from painful sex to postpartum recovery, as they put it in a press release, all of which is currently being served up via socially distanced Zoom video chat, thanks to the coronavirus.

Early growth in visits is running at 100%, month over month, per Carmy.

“We had originally planned to spend more time with in person care and then actually launch our digital platform — telehealth — in 2021. But March hit and it was very clear that we were going to have to close our doors for some period of time. So we decided to accelerate, really dramatically, the launch of our virtual care,” she explains.

“We launched a telehealth product in 48 hours, we converted the majority of our visits for the next month in person online and we had really, really great feedback and customer response —  both in terms of adoption but repeat visits as well. And that gave us the confidence to really accelerate both the brand launch but also to be able to serve many more women with telehealth and then ultimately with other digital products down the line.”

Origin’s virtual care offering is nationwide in the sense of being available as a “touchpoint” to women across the U.S., though Carmy notes it’s only “in network” (i.e. accepted by some insurance providers) in California at this point. “That’s a goal of ours — to expand insurance coverage nationwide,” she says.

“We’re rapidly onboarding new providers across the country to be able to serve patients in a deeper way. Right now we offer one-on-one physical therapy online in California, and we’re offering health coaching in other states and are expanding our coverage in the coming weeks. We have folks lined up in New York and Texas and other states that we’re onboarding right now.”

The wider plan — coronavirus pandemic willing — is to start building out a network of physical clinics to go alongside the telehealth service, expanding out from the initial clinic in LA. She says the team is eyeing other locations in California to potentially open up later this year.

“Our model is both in person and online but obviously COVID has accelerated the online component,” Carmy tells TechCrunch. “But, at the core, physical therapy designed for women really means we were looking at women’s anatomy; the hormonal differences that affect women at unique stages in life; and often looking at the very prevalent but overlooked healthcare issues that women experience. So that’s the core of the care delivery that we’ve been tweaking with the team from a client experience perspective.

“That is going to stay the same but our goal is to build a network of practices across the country in partnership with the leading providers in each market. So we’re actually on track to open up San Francisco later this year… and have plans to expand within California and the country in person.”

On the tech side they’re focusing on building “customization around the care delivery experience” — which boils down to building a platform that serves the target female users with “the right education and fitness and exercise content”, as part of an overarching care delivery package.

Origin’s founder clinic is a long-standing LA business, called Bebé Physical Therapy. The team started working with this practice in late 2018, with a formal partnership following on last year. While the clinic’s original founder has left, the entire clinical team was retained — and Origin gained an existing loyal client base. (They say they’ve treated “thousands” of women in Los Angeles and have more than 250 referring providers, such as OB-GYNs, at this stage.)

“For us it was this really big moment of realizing there is this care delivery model that really works,” says Carmy, explaining the startup origin story. “The research shows that physical therapy is the first line of defense for every pelvic floor disorder. But there’s not enough access to these types of providers in a way that makes sense for the modern woman.”

“We really believe in building a clinical-first company,” she adds. “So for us it was really important to partner with really the best team in Los Angeles.”

Origin is angel funded at this stage, with the team taking an undisclosed amount of financing from investors including Assaf Wand, CEO and co-founder Hippo Insurance; Jenny Fleiss, co-founder of Rent the Runway; Josh Zad, founder & CEO of Alfred Inc.; and several others, including some individuals specifically focused on the healthcare space.

“Now profitability is sexy,” jokes Carmy, when asked about its approach to financing the business and whether it’s looking to go down a typical startup VC funding route or not. “For us, we’ve always wanted our locations to be profitable. I think it’s the most important thing to control your own destiny. Really focus on building a sustainable business from day one has been our goal.”

While bricks-and-mortar clinics where women can go for personal, physical, and potentially very intimate therapy are clearly a vital component of such a service, Carmy argues there’s plenty of good work that can be done virtually to support women with their health issues.

She says one major component to tackle when targeting women’s health is simply awareness and education — given how relatively overlooked the area is. And of course there’s no barrier to imparting knowledge over a Zoom call (albeit that particular videoconferencing tool’s platform’s security is something the Origin team may want to take a closer look at).

“So much of what we offer can be done remotely,” says Carmy. “And I think, especially if you’re a busy working mother, to be able to come into the clinic every week is not always feasible. So we do think you can actually achieve better outcomes and better adherence if we have continuous care online and in person.”

“A lot of patients are coming to us with issues that have never been named before,” she adds. “So some of the core value we offer is actually providing medical valuation — there’s a medical diagnosis and there’s a plan and there’s something we can do about it,” she adds.

“How women understand what’s going on with their bodies. And that’s not just in one session — that’s really over time, increasing body awareness and knowledge that women have so that they can also take care of themselves better in the future. That happens in every visit and can happen online.”

Carmy has a background in digital marketing but a very personal interest in women’s health after suffering painful sex during her twenties. She recounts the frustration of having to see multiple doctors before finally being able to get effective treatment for the problem.

While her long time friend and co-founder, Nona Farahnik Yadegar, suffered similar health issues after delivering her son — which led her to the Bebé Physical Therapy practice. Inspired, the friends joined forces to set up Origin, enlisting the help of Farahnik Yadegar’s husband, David, as their third co-founder.

“Pregnancy and postpartum, particularly postpartum, women’s needs are fundamentally ignored after they deliver,” Carmy continues. “We’re expected to just kind of ‘snap back’ — which is this huge fallacy which creates a whole set of other emotional issues and challenges as we try to live our lives.

“There’s a huge need. There’s a historical gender bias in medicine — but there has to be a way to solve this.”

It looks like a timely moment to build such a platform, with telehealth seeing a huge demand spike as a result of the coronavirus. While femtech, as a category, is now well established — commanding an increased share of attention from VCs who have historically lagged on understanding the opportunities for products and services that cater to women’s health (given their own gender bias problem).

Where women’s health is concerned the penny of opportunity does seem to be dropping. Not just for businesses narrowly focused on fertility, either, but for founders who are thinking far more holistically about women’s issues and well-being (including very overlooked yet universal transitions such as the menopause).

The Origin team’s decision to accelerate launching their telehealth platform actually occurred before a COVID-19 triggered shift in US regulations — which has nonetheless helped their accessibility mission by opening up digital healthcare platforms for insurance coverage, including for physical therapy.

“My hope is that this continues, even beyond whatever crisis period we’re in right now,” says Carmy, noting how physical therapy was one of the last areas to be covered for telehealth.

Origin contends that its approach to women’s health and physical therapy prevents and treats conditions that costs the system “billions of dollars across maternity and MSK” — by reducing unnecessary surgeries; improving musculoskeletal outcomes; and also by supporting women at work, thereby reducing absenteeism and promoting postpartum return.

“We’ve systemically ignored many parts of women’s bodies. There’s so much more research on erectile dysfunction than there is on female sexual pain,” Carmy adds, discussing why the insurance industry has also historically failed to pay proper attention to women’s health. (She notes, for example, that the Bebé Physical Therapy practice is an exception in Southern California in accepting insurance for this type of therapy.)

“If the medical community is telling you, through their actions, by only getting one visit six-weeks postpartum or by me needing to see six doctors to figure out what’s wrong with my pelvic floor, which is a large part of my body,  even I think that this is maybe ‘normal’ or not an issue.

“The number of women I’ve talked to who assume that leaking or incontinence is just something that happens to all women after they give birth and can’t be dealt with… So I think we’ve normalized what is probably one of the largest healthcare issues in the country. That is maybe not an acute issue causing a tonne of surgeries but it really is if you look at pelvic organ prolapse.

“One in two adult women experience some level of prolapse and surgery is still perceived to be ‘the option’. And even with surgery you need physical therapy so…”

There’s respected science underpinning physical therapy as an effective treatment for a range of women’s health issues (Carmy, for example, points to this Stanford study on pelvic floor dysfunction). But, at the same time, the historic failure of the medical research community to focus on women’s health issues means there’s an ongoing paucity of data — which is something Origin hopes to be able to treat in time.

“We’re one of the only practices, we’re seeing thousands of visits a months, so we’re able to actually have a very large population that, hopefully in partnership with a research institution, we can actually show the real value of what’s being done — especially from a prevention stand point,” says Carmy.

“I think that’s where healthcare is going,” she adds, on the dual-sided — online, offline — nature of the business: In person physical therapy supplemented by ongoing online care, where therapists treat patients in their homes (and can even, therefore get a peek at extra environmental context, by getting eyes on a patient’s surroundings, that might be useful for further customizing physical treatments).

“In the future we’re not going to call it ‘telehealth’ we’re going to call it healthcare… It’s really just the future of care delivery.”

Another healthcare trend that’s clearly signalled by a startup like Origin is that women are increasingly rejecting a male-skewed status quo within medicine — and making it their own business to take better care of women. 

#california, #coronavirus, #covid-19, #erectile-dysfunction, #femtech, #health, #healthcare, #los-angeles, #louisiana, #medicine, #origin, #physical-therapy, #rent-the-runway, #san-francisco, #stanford, #startups, #surgery, #telehealth, #texas, #united-states, #video-conferencing, #womens-health

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UK femtech startup Astinno, which is working on a wearable to combat hot flushes, picks up grant worth $450k

London-based femtech hardware startup Astinno has picked up an Innovate UK grant worth £360k ($450k) to fund further testing of a wearable it’s developing for women experiencing a perimenopause symptom known as hot flushes.

The sensor-packed device, which it’s calling Grace, is being designed to detect the onset of a hot flush and apply cooling to a woman’s wrist to combat the reaction — in a process it likens to running your wrists under a cold tap.

The aim is for algorithmically triggered cooling to be done in a timely enough manner to prevent hot flushes from running their usual unpleasant and uncomfortable course. While the bracelet wearable itself is being designed to look like a chunky piece of statement jewellery.

The femtech category in general has attracted an influx of funding in recent years, as venture capitalists slowly catch up to the opportunities available in products and services catering to women’s health issues.

But it’s fair to say menopause remains a still under-addresed segment within the category. Although there are now signs that more attention is being paid to issues that affect many hundreds of millions of middle aged (and some younger) women around the world.

The team working on Grace has built several prototypes to date, per founder Peter Astbury. He says some limited user tested has also been done. But they’ve yet to robustly prove efficacy of the core tech — hence taking grant funding for more advanced testing. At this stage of development there’s also no timeline for when a product might be brought to market.

Astinno and Morgan IAT, its commercial partner on the project, have been awarded the Innovate UK money via a publicly funded UK SMART grants scheme (the pair are getting match funding via the scheme, with the public body putting up 70% and Astinno and Morgan IAT funding the other 30% of their respective costs).

Loughborough University — Astbury’s alma mater — is also involved as a research party, and is being funded for 100% of its grant costs.

“Several prototypes have been created so far, mainly by myself having received electronics and design training as part of my degree at Loughborough University,” says Astbury. “Shortly after leaving university I also briefly worked with an electronics company who helped to refine some of the components within the Grace product.

“Morgan IAT has the crucial technical role of developing a number of prototypes in conjunction with Astinno. This includes both hardware and software development, building many more advanced prototypes that are being tested, refined and then tested again.

“We’re working with three researchers from Loughborough University which brings together industry leading expertise in menopause psychology and physiology. Based at the National Centre for Sports and Exercise Medicine, the researchers are using their fantastic lab facilities to test Grace, meaning that everything we’re doing is being validated by professional research. Once this step is complete, we’ll have more of an idea regarding product release time-frames.”

Astbury founded the startup last summer — but had begun work on the concept for Grace several years before, during his final year at Loughborough, back in 2016.

“As a member of Loughborough’s business incubator, ‘The Studio’, I was awarded an enterprise grant which helped to fund the business. I have also been putting my User Experience design skills and expertise to good use, contracting for start-ups and larger healthcare companies on a part-time basis to ‘bootstrap’ development,” he adds.

The idea for the wearable came after Astbury conducted user research by talking to women about their menopausal symptoms and hearing about their coping strategies for hot flushes and the night sweats that can be induced.

“A woman was telling me about her symptoms and how she coped with them until now. She would wake up ten to fifteen times each night due to her night sweats. Each time, she would go to the bathroom and run her wrists under cold water which helped the flush to subside. Looking into this method in more depth, it became clear that cooling an area of skin can indeed be extremely effective and there are lots of women that use this technique,” he explains.

“During a hot flush, your brain mistakenly thinks that you are becoming too warm and causes your body to lose heat. This results in sweating, a reddening of the skin and shortness of breath. The skin, however, acts like your body’s thermometer, passing information to your brain. By applying cooling to the skin at the right time, we’re harnessing the body’s natural temperature regulation system. The brain receives signals that you are cool and, in turn, the body reacts in a way that is directly opposite to a hot flush.”

“The real key to Grace is accurately and reliably pre-empting hot flushes (the automated nature of the bracelet) so that cooling can be applied at the earliest stage possible,” he adds. “We’re doing that using a specific line-up of sensor technology and algorithms all working together but I’m afraid the details of that can’t be disclosed publicly yet.”

Astbury says he was keen to get grant funding at this stage of product development to avoid dilution of the business, given VCs would require their chunk of equity.

“One of the best things about Innovate UK for a science-based start-up like Astinno is that it doesn’t contribute to the dilution of your business,” he notes. “By the end of a successful grant project, a company becomes a much more attractive investment from the perspective of both investors and the start-up. I have had discussions with multiple angels/VC’s and will maintain those relationships, however a grant was the best option for us at this stage.”

#astinno, #electronics, #europe, #femtech, #grace, #health, #hot-flushes, #innovate-uk, #london, #menopause, #perimenopause, #recent-funding, #startups, #wearables, #womens-health

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#Brandneu – 7 neue Startups, die jeder kennen sollte


In unserem Newsletter Startup-Radar berichten wir einmal in der Woche über junge, frische und brandneue Startups, die noch nicht jeder kennt. Alle diese Startups stellen wir in unserem kostenpflichtigen Newsletter kurz und knapp vor und bringen sie so auf den Radar der bundesweiten Startup-Szene und im besten Fall auf die Agenda von Investoren, Unternehmen und potenziellen Kooperationspartnern.

Mehrere Wochen nach der exklusiven Erstveröffentlichung in unserem Newsletter stellen wir einige der präsentierten Startups auch auf unserer Website vor.  Jetzt Wissensvorsprung sichern und unseren Newsletter Startup-Radar sofort abonnieren!

Oviavo
Das junge Berliner Startup Oviavo positioniert sich als “Partner zum Einfrieren von Eizellen”. Gründerin Jenny Saft frierte ihre Eizellen selbst ein und merkte dabei selbst. wie viel man an diesen Prozess verbessern kann. “Die moderne Medizin gibt uns heutzutage so viele Möglichkeiten – leider wissen nur die wenigsten, wie sie diese für sich nutzen können”, sagt die Jungunternehmerin

URL: www.oviavo.com
Hashtags: #eHealth #FemTech
Ort: Berlin
Gründer: Jenny Saft

Avery
Avery ist eine Online-Beratungsplattform rund um die weibliche Fruchtbarkeit und Social Freezing – das Einfrieren von Eizellen. Gegründet wurde die Plattform von Lia Grünhage, diese sichert sich auch ein Investment von Lea-Sophie Cramer, an deren Seite Grünhage bei Amorelie arbeitete. Zudem investierten bereits die Audibene-Gründer Marco Vietor und Paul Crusius sowie Daniel Schroer und Torsten Kurth.

URL: www.avery-fertility.com
Hashtags: #eHealth
Ort: Berlin
Gründer: Frederik Brandis, Fabian Blatt, Lia Grünhage

Ohrexperten
Das Jungunternehmen Ohrexperten bietet eine Plattform für die Vermittlung von Kunden an lokale Hörgeräteakustiker. Dabei erhalten Kunden direkt Informationen rund um das Thema Hörgeräte sowie zu den Preisen und Funktionen der verschiedenen Hörgeräte-Typen. Der Kunde kann sein Wunsch-Hörgerät online auswählen und einen Termin bei einem Akustiker in seiner Nähe vereinbaren.

URL: www.ohrexperten.de 
Hashtags:#eHealth #eEommerce
Ort: Düsseldorf
Gründer: Arne Sander Genannt Tewer

Ammely
Zusammen mit dem Deutschen Hebammenverband starteten die Keleya-Gründerinnen Viktoria Engelhardt und Sarah Müggenburg nun Ammely, eine Plattform für die Vermittlung von Hebammenleistungen. Das soll die Kommunikation zwischen Frauen, Familien und Hebammen leichter machen. Zum Start sind bereits über 2.000 Hebammen registriert.

URL: www.ammely.de
Hashtags: #eHealth #FemTech #FemaleFounders
Ort:Berlin
Gründer: Viktoria Engelhardt, Sarah Müggenburg

air-Q
Mit air-Q von Corant soll die Luftqualität in Echtzeit gemessen werden. So sollen Quellen von Luftschadstoffen aufgedeckt werden. Das Luftmessgerät arbeitet unter anderem mit KI-Algorithmen, um sämtliche Schadstoffe in der Luft einer Wohnung, eines Hauses oder eines Büros zu messen. Sind Gesundheit oder Leistungsfähigkeit in Gefahr, gibt es Tipps, was zu verbessern ist.

URL: www.air-q.com
Hashtags: #eHealth #Klima
Ort:Chemnitz
Gründer: Mario Körösi

iAtros
Das Münchner Startup iAtros entwickelt eine Telemedizinlösung, “die eine datengetriebene Behandlung von Kardiologiepatienten ermöglicht”. Das Startup richtet sich an Kliniken, aber auch direkt an Patienten. iAtros wurde 2019 von den beiden Herzspezialisten Alexander Leber und Georges von Degenfeld sowie von Patrick Palacin, Wolfram Winter und Jens Schäfer gegründet.

URL: www.i-atros.com
Hashtags: #eHealth
Ort: München
Gründer: Alexander Leber, Georges von Degenfeld, Patrick Palacin, Wolfram Winter, Jens Schäfer

DeepSpin
Hinter dem Berliner DeepTech-Startup DeepSpin verbirgt sich ein Unternehmen, das MRT-Geräte der nächsten Generation entwickelt. Dabei setzt das Health-Startup auf Machine Learning. “DeepSpin is developing a next-gen, AI-powered MRI imaging machine at a fraction of the cost, size and weight of standard systems”, heißt es auf der Website. Die Gründer sind Clemens Tepel, Pedro Freire Silva und Erinc Merdivan.

URL: www.deepspin.io
Hashtags:#EHealth #MedTech
Ort: Berlin
Gründer: Clemens Tepel, Pedro Freire Silva, Erinc Merdivan

TippJetzt unseren Newsletter Startup-Radar abonnieren!

Startup-Jobs: Auf der Suche nach einer neuen Herausforderung? In der unserer Jobbörse findet Ihr Stellenanzeigen von Startups und Unternehmen.

Foto (oben): Shutterstock

#air-q, #aktuell, #ammely, #avery, #brandneu, #deepspin, #iatros, #ohrexperten, #oviavo

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#DealMonitor – 5 Millionen für ecoworks – Maxburg übernimmt metoda


Im aktuellen #DealMonitor für den 8. April werfen wir wieder einen Blick auf die wichtigsten, spannendsten und interessantesten Investments und Exits des Tages. Alle Deals der Vortage gibt es im großen und übersichtlichen #DealMonitor-Archiv.

INVESTMENTS

ecoworks
+++ Surplus Invest, PropTech1 Ventures und Wi venture investiere  5 Millionen Euro in das Berliner PropTech-Startup ecoworks. Die Jungfirma positioniert sich als “Anbieter für klimaneutrale, industrielle Modernisierungen”. Zudem investierten Klaus Freiberg, Alexander Ljung, Eric Wahlforss, Christian Vollmann, Nicholas Neerpasch und Torben Schreiter in das Startup.

Kapilendo
+++ Comvest, Finlab und das Versorgungswerk Zahnärztekammer Berlin investieren im Rahmen eines Wandeldarlehens 3 Millionen Euro in das Crowdlending-Startup Kapilendo – siehe FinanceFWD. Über die Crowdlending-Plattform können Kleininvestoren Kredite an mittelständische Unternehmen vergeben.

VisionHealth
+++ Georg Matheis, mehrere Altinvestoren sowie “weitere Unternehmer und Investoren mit langjähriger Branchenexpertise in Atemwegstherapien” investieren 1 Millionen Euro in das Unternehmen VisionHealth. Die Jungfirma entwickelt die digitale Gesundheits-App Kata, ein Produkt zur Verbesserung der Inhalationsbehandlung bei Atemwegserkrankungen

Oviavo
+++ Der Berliner Geldgeber Atlantic Labs investiert in das Berliner Social-Freezing-Startup Oviavo – siehe Gründerszene. Die FemTech-Jungfirma, die von Jenny Saft und Tobias Kaufhold gegründet wurde, informiert und berät Kunden rund um das Thema Social Freezing, ein Verfahren, das Frauen mit Kinderwunsch das Einfrieren ihrer Eizellen ermöglicht.

EXITS

metoda
+++ Maxburg Capital Partners übernimmt das Münchner Software-Unternehmen metoda. Das 2012 gegründete Startup ermöglicht es Händlern, die eigenen Preise und ihr Sortiment in Echtzeit auf die Entwicklungen im Markt anzupassen. Bayern Kapital, der High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF) und Tengelmann Ventures investierten in den vergangenen Jahren in metoda, früher als PreisAnalytics bekannt.

Achtung! Wir freuen uns über Tipps, Infos und Hinweise, was wir in unserem #DealMonitor alles so aufgreifen sollten. Schreibt uns eure Vorschläge entweder ganz klassisch per E-Mail oder nutzt unsere “Stille Post“, unseren Briefkasten für Insider-Infos.

Startup-Jobs: Auf der Suche nach einer neuen Herausforderung? In der unserer Jobbörse findet Ihr Stellenanzeigen von Startups und Unternehmen.

Foto (oben): Shutterstock

#aktuell, #atlantic-labs, #comvest, #ecoworks, #femtech, #finlab, #kapilendo, #maxburg-capital-partners, #metoda, #oviavo, #proptech1-ventures, #surplus-invest, #venture-capital, #visionhealth, #wi-venture

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