Why aren’t VCs funding more menopause-focused startups? – TechCrunch

In recent years, “femtech” has attracted more and more attention and venture capital, with dozens of startups starting to emerge, ranging from digital health apps to regenerative medicine companies. create newer. Most of those deals are related to infertility, and it’s easy to see why. Among U.S. women ages 15 to 49 who did not give birth before, 26% The CDC says it’s hard to get pregnant or get pregnant to full term.

However, founders and investors are seizing even greater opportunities during menopause, which affects half the population and is becoming prominent as the world’s demographics are aging, among other things, due to the shift towards smaller families that began in the late 1990s. 1960 and the increase in life expectancy. (From 1980 to 2016, life expectancy at birth increased from 73.7 to 78.6 years).

The numbers suggest opportunities. Indeed, according to the recent United Nations dataThe number of elderly people in the total population is increasing rapidly. In 2020, there are 727 million people aged 65 and over in the world; By 2050, that number is expected to double to 1.5 billion people. That’s why we’re starting to see a bunch of companies that cater to an older demographic, from mortgages to reverse. loan company to home care services for the elderly starting a business.

However, menopause – clearly a huge market – continues to attract a small amount of investment dollars. According to Crunchbase data, just over a dozen startups addressing menopause have raised capital in the past 12 months.

The most recent is Vira Health, which offers personalized digital therapies for women going through menopause and just this week announced its second round of funding ($12 million). The deal follows a $10 million round announced last month for HerMD, an outfit that aims to open offline hubs focused on women’s sexual health and menopause (currently currently under development). operate two centers). Gameto, a company whose goal is to delay – even abolish – menopause through regenerative medicine, meanwhile announced 20 million dollars in funding in January.

Compared to the dollars invested elsewhere, usually in my companies, that’s a small change. Even more shocking is that women in perimenopause, menopause, or postmenopause tend to peak about their spending power.

To be fair, there are plenty of reasons investors might be hesitant, many of which are men and themselves never would. going through menopause. Indeed, most of the firms funded to date have received checks from female VCs.

There hasn’t been any “breakthrough” consumer brand that caters to women going through menopause.

Although some of the most expensive investments – developing hormone replacement therapies – have proven to be highly profitable for pharmaceutical companies, they are also plagued by safety and health concerns. The road to launching new drugs is fraught with failures. (Astellas, a multinational pharmaceutical company based in Japan, is perhaps the latest to succeed and Miss in a phase 3 study in Asia.)

However, investors looking for the upside may have a harder time viewing menopause as a market. Advances in biology, computing, automation, and artificial intelligence in recent years are attracting growing interest in menopause from a wide range of stakeholders, including those focused on menopause. into regenerative medicine, which is the process of creating living, functional tissues to repair or replace tissue or organs. function is lost.

For example, Gameto, backed by Future Ventures, hopes to use cell therapies to buy time before the ovaries stop functioning as an organ to delay certain time-related health conditions. menopause, including higher blood pressure, heart disease, and osteoporosis. . (Its CEO believes women deserve a higher quality of life for longer, as long as they’re living longer.)

There is growing evidence that there may be more opportunities for treatment. For example, researchers are only now beginning to realize the effects of menopause on women’s brains. “Many of the symptoms of menopause cannot be directly produced by the ovaries, if you think about hot flashes, night sweats, anxiety, depression, insomnia, brain fog,” says Lisa Mosconi. , associate professor of neurology. at Weill Cornell Medicine and director of the Women’s Brain Initiative, told the New York Times in July. “Those are symptoms of the brain, and we should treat the brain as something affected by menopause at least as much as your ovaries.”

For the lack of groundbreaking consumer brands that cater to women going through menopause – including brands that relieve signs and symptoms and help manage chronic diseases – they may be at recently.

One thing seems certain. It is an underserved market that is growing rapidly and is aimed at the wealthy. More opportunity is behind the brands that define the category, and it’s fair to ask: Why aren’t VCs — and founders, for that matter — more focused on menopause?

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