Recommended Event: 24/02/22: FemTech Untapped - Creating accessible solutions for the future of healthcare | Women of Wearables

FemTech Untapped, Women of Wearables

FemTech Untapped is an online program and a global movement tapping into areas of women’s health that have long been underserved, underresearched, and underfunded.

In 2022, we will be covering a wide range of topics with a goal to educate and destigmatize areas of FemTech that still remain “untapped”.

Join us every month for a series of events where we will cover topics from diversity and inclusion in the femtech space, to menstrual health and sextech, to mental and cardiovascular health for women and underrepresented audiences and groups in the healthcare space. Together, we can all work towards FemTech being more accessible and inclusive.

Creating accessible and inclusive solutions for the future of healthcare

Everyone has the right to healthcare. Healthcare that meets and takes into account each individual patient’s needs. How can tech innovations help change healthcare’s “one-size-fits-all” approach to a person-centered approach?

From serving the LGBTQ+ community, young people, safe abortion care, to a personalized approach to hormonal health, join us to meet and hear from startup founders and industry leaders building the next generation of innovative products and services in the health tech space.

One Tech World Virtual Conference 2022

01 APRIL 2022

Book your place now to what is becoming the largest virtual conference for women in technology in 2022

FIND OUT MORE

Applications for FemTech Lab's Hybrid Accelerator Program are now open

Femtech Lab Applications opened!

FemTech Lab announced the launch of its new hybrid startup accelerator program focusing on FemTech companies.

This program will combine the virtual FemTech Lab program, launched in 2020, with a new in-person element.

FemTech Lab’s accelerator welcomes around ten early-stage companies for three months twice a year. Applications for the Spring 2022 Cohort are now open online until January 15th.

Speaking about the announcement, FemTech Lab’s Co-founders Karina Vazirova and Katia Lang said, “FemTech is right at the centre of these two major trends, and the sector is growing, defining itself, expanding well beyond reproductive health, touching all areas of women’s lives.”

“FemTech is going to be the new normal for any innovation in health and consumer product design in the near future.”

Based in London, the 12-week accelerator program will guide FemTech entrepreneurs and start-up founders from across the world through seven different FemTech business categories over the course of three months, culminating in a Demo Day on 01 December. The unique program built for startups operating in the women’s health and wellbeing space involves over 50 workshops with 40 expert advisors across three main sprints: Product, Go-To-Market, and Fundraising – all with a FemTech-specific angle.

Following the success of the Spring 2021 Cohort which saw 20% of startups being overfunded, applications for Spring 2022 have opened. The previous cohort’s successes were not isolated to funding, as they have triumphed with digital propositions to major national deals, corporate sponsorships and grants, as well as nominating major FemTech leaders to their board of directors.

Applications for FemTech Lab’s Accelerator are now open until January 15th. All FemTech companies are welcome to apply. Selected startups will join FemTech Lab on 1st February for three months.

APPLY HERE

Alice Pelton featured

Inspirational Woman: Alice Pelton | Founder & CEO, The Lowdown

Alice PeltonAlice Pelton is the CEO and Co-Founder of The Lowdown, the world’s first review platform for contraception.

She studied at the London School of Economics, before working in strategy and product management at the publisher News UK. She set up The Lowdown in 2019, and is based in London.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I grew up in Salisbury, Wiltshire, and left to study Anthropology at the LSE. After graduating, I launched an e-commerce brand selling dog food (!) before getting on the marketing graduate scheme at the publisher News UK. It’s been quite varied 🤣

I spent seven years at News UK – and during my time there, realised I liked working with developers and tech teams more than I did briefing creative agencies. Whilst I was on sabbatical in 2017 I thought of the idea for The Lowdown, after ranting to my boyfriend about my terrible experiences with contraception. I used my experience working as a digital product manager for some of the UK’s biggest news brands to make it happen and bootstrapped and built the site as a side hustle, launching it in 2019.

The Lowdown really took off, so I quit my job at News UK in 2019, went travelling, and then came home in peak lockdown to focus on the business full-time last year. We recently closed an investment round, hired a team and launched our consultation and prescriptions service. We’re currently hard at work rebuilding our website, which will be launching in September.

Helping women with their contraception and building this business is my dream job and I absolutely love it!

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No – my only plan was to try out lots of different things in my twenties, to find out what I most enjoyed. I would treat the early stage in your career as like browsing a buffet, and not get too hung up on what you choose. Just try and work in an environment that gives you flexibility, fast promotion and loads of space to learn. It’s all about your rate of learning, and there’s nothing wrong with being a generalist in my (biased) opinion.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

I was very impatient in the early stages of my career and had to take advice to slow down and let things happen. My main challenges have all been internal – trying not to worry or stress about things too much, and being insanely hard on myself.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Probably being interviewed about The Lowdown by The Times for their T2 supplement. I read The Times every day and it made my Dad proud.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success? 

Relationship building. After a few years of working in an office, I realised how much success is down to getting to know people and working well with them. The Lowdown was built with the help of friends, ex-colleagues and passionate community members. Without relationships with these people, it would not exist.

The Lowdown is the world’s first review platform for contraception – How important is it that women have a platform to be able to discuss their health openly?

It’s long overdue and absolutely critical. Traditional healthcare isn’t working, and women are desperate for a safe space where they can share their experiences and get the real lowdown on how things may impact them.

Our organic success is testament to this; since launching the site we’ve collected over 5,000 experiences from women and are visited by thousands of people every day, without spending any money on marketing.

What top tips would you give to someone looking for a career in Femtech?

Contact start-ups like The Lowdown and pitch to write, help out, or tell us what we’re doing wrong! It’s a really nascent industry so jump on board a rocket ship as one of them will take off! 🚀 Try out brands and products, and become an expert in an area that interests you.

What do you think companies can do to support and progress the careers of women working in technology?

Build a stronger pipeline by investing in ways to teach women how to code or get into tech in the first place. Start paying us the same as men. When recruiting, don’t put names on CVs to help avoid bias.

There are currently only 17 per cent of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

I think it starts in schools – with the gendering of our education system and the assumption that women don’t want to or aren’t encouraged to code or look into STEM subjects. Is anyone properly selling tech to them? If you told a 16-year-old she could earn over £100k per year as an Android developer, building products for the coolest companies on the planet, I think she’d be interested.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

I don’t subscribe to that many newsletters as a lot of them are just noise – but I do highly recommend Femtech insider. Women of Wearables and Femstreet are good also. Twitter is a great place to find interesting threads from founders and investors in a space you’re interested in. I love listening to How I Built This podcast for inspiration when I’m feeling in a pit of doom.

My top three books are the oft recommended (for a reason) Four Hour Work Week (on side hustles), The Hard Thing about Hard Things (on leadership) and Who: The A Method (on hiring)


Recommended Event: 17/06/2021: Investing and Fundraising in HealthTech and FemTech - virtual conference | Women of Wearables Global

Women of Wearables, healthtech and femtech virtual conference

Join WoW for an all-day conference about Investing and Fundraising in HealthTech and FemTech space with startups, investors and experts!

Investing and Fundraising in HealthTech and FemTech is a global virtual conference answering all your questions about fundraising and investing in this space. It's a global meetup of investors and founders sharing their insights, knowledge, best practices, and advice on how to raise money for FemTech and Health Tech businesses. We gathered founders, angels, VCs, startup accelerators, and experts from the field to educate, inform and share best practices on different ways to raise money to grow the businesses and share lessons learned along the way. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated digital health adoption by several years, which reflected in the surge of venture funding in digital health as well.

According to CB Insights’ State Of Healthcare Q1’21: Investment & Sector Trends To Watch report, global healthcare funding hit a new quarterly record in Q1 2021 with a total of $31.6B in equity funding. Startups offering on-demand healthcare services ($1.2B across 17 deals) and biopharma research and development catalysts ($1.1B across 13 deals) secured the most funding across 2020 and 2021, Rock Health report shows. Q1 2021 saw an uptick in investment activity for certain clinical issues. Among companies supporting a specific clinical condition, mental health companies garnered the most amount of funding in Q1 2021.

But, unlike the funding stats for digital health companies, the funding stats for female founders are not improving. In fact, venture funding for female founders has hit its lowest quarterly total in three years, according to PitchBook data. Crunchbase data shows that American startups founded solely by female founders raised only $3.2 billion in 2020, down a billion dollars from $4.2 billion in 2019. When it comes to women in VC, only 5.6% of US VC firms are women-led.

Join us for a whole day event to learn about Investing and Fundraising in HealthTech and FemTech space, meet successful founders and CEOs, find out who are the leading investors in this space, and connect with like-minded professionals from around the world!

BOOK NOW


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Lisa Krapinger featured

Inspirational Woman: Lisa Krapinger | CMO, breathe ilo

Lisa KrapingerI was born and raised in Vienna, and have been ambitious my whole life. In fact I was a professional diver at the age of 8! 

I started working in marketing at Red Bull, leading the sampling and promotion team, in order to combine my passion for sports with my career. Then I moved to Heineken, where I was responsible for promoting the cider brands in Austria through  sponsorships and events.

What I realised from these two roles was that I loved working to build new brands and products up from scratch - hence why Carbomed Medical Solutions GmbH was the perfect next step in my career path.

Tell us more about your current role

I took on the role as CMO so I could share the news about breathe ilo and its benefits with women all around the globe. breathe ilo is the world’s first fertility tracker that uses breath analysis to identify ovulation patterns -  whether you want to track your cycle or increase your chance at conceiving.

At breathe ilo, my key responsibility is to lead the entire sales and marketing team while helping spread the word and raise awareness of the product by using various channels such as social media, influencers, PR, trade fairs and events.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Believe it or not, I actually do have a five years career plan and a more detailed one year career plan with small steps and goals. I believe you can only achieve success when you always have it in front of your eyes.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

I face challenges on almost a weekly basis but I continue to stay positive, focused and never lose my passion. The main challenge at breathe ilo is that we are talking about a “taboo” topic. Word of mouth is not as easy as women who get pregnant easily with breathe ilo don’t want to admit that they initially needed help. Therefore we feel it’s important to go back to the root and speak about the overall topic of fertility and pregnancy in order to break the taboos and make such conversation normal.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

My biggest achievement has been receiving the testimonials from women since the inception of breathe ilo; this continues to be a huge achievement for the entire team. We are continuously receiving emails from women sharing stories of how they got pregnant now with breathe ilo, after months or years of trying. Reading messages like these gives me all the energy and motivation to try to do my best everyday. As we have just launched into the UK market, I believe that the more people know about the technology, the more people we can help.

What excites you the most about your industry?

The world has been focused on men’s health, and it’s sad to see that  the depth in which the health industry has been explored the  female body is around 300 years behind. However, I love the femtech industry as we can see that several startups are emerging to change that.

Most of them have one goal: understanding the female body better and empowering women. This is something I also want to stand for and it excites me everyday, as with every new user we get, we are one step closer to filling the void in the gender data gap.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

The support of my friends and family has been a major factor in achieving success. Above all my sister and fiance always believe in me and help me to stay one step ahead. I am very thankful to have them both on my side, discussing ways I can progress in the future, helping me to set goals and working out how I can achieve them.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

I would give myself a lot of advice if I could. Most importantly, however, is to learn to take a more relaxed view of difficulties. You can’t change an issue unless you take one step back and see the bigger picture. Also, another piece of advice I would give myself is that each challenge will ultimately teach you something.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

My primary challenge now is making breathe ilo a global brand. We want to provide our technology to the whole world, help every woman in need and make fertility tracking as easy as breathing!


WeAreTechWomen has a back catalogue of thousands of Inspirational Woman interviews, including Professor Sue Black OBE, Debbie Forster MBE, Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE and many more. You can read about all our amazing women here


woman lying in bed, female sexuality, femtech

Femtech is booming, but we still need to change the conversation around female sexuality and pleasure

woman lying in bed, female sexuality, femtech

Article provided by Andrea Oliver Garcia is the CEO and co-founder of Emjoy

Sex is difficult to speak about for many people. It can be confusing and overwhelming.

During my young adult years, I was quite disconnected from my own sexual desires and needs and struggled to articulate what I wanted, because I wasn't sure myself what that was. I started talking with my girlfriends about this and realised that I wasn’t the only one - on the contrary, the confusion I had experienced when it came to my sexual desires as a woman was far more common than I had thought.

In 2018 I started doing research on the topic of female sexuality and I came across several studies that analysed the pleasure gap. These consistently showed that women often experience less pleasure than their male counterparts during sex. To my surprise, there wasn’t a digital solution available on the market addressing sexual wellbeing from a habit-building perspective, like those for meditation, fitness or mental health. This is how in 2019 I decided to start this journey and how Emjoy, our audio-based sexual wellbeing app, came to fruition. It was developed with the goal of raising women’s confidence by bringing awareness to their sexuality, empowering them to build an understanding of their sexual needs and desires.

Having worked previously as a VC I was aware that the Femtech market was booming, that Emjoy’s market potential was huge, and that we could have a massive impact on women’s lives. To our surprise (maybe we were too naive), we realised that Emjoy sat outside of the boundaries of comfort for some investors. Some investors didn’t and still don’t understand the problem and others consider us “pornographic”.  Whilst I don't believe that men are averse to investing in femtech companies; in fact, the coining of the term in 2016 allowed many female-focused brands to break through, I do believe that when an app is designed for a woman, it is always beneficial to have someone at the table saying “I would use this” or “I know someone that would benefit from this”.

Having said this, we have also interacted with many investors that are strongly aligned with our mission to close the pleasure gap and build an accessible way for women to be in touch with their intimate wellbeing.

We launched worldwide in early 2020 and have now grown to more than 95,000 users. Whilst masturbation is still seen as taboo in many parts of the world - just this year Glamour magazine found that 83 pr cent of women believe that there is still a stigma around female desire - our rapid growth shows that there is a clear need and demand for a fun, comfortable space for women to explore and experiment with their sexuality. As self-pleasure becomes more normalised, we will talk about it more - with our friends and with our partners. I’m excited that Emjoy is playing a part in making this much-needed change happen.

It is my belief that in the next five years, taboos around sexual wellness innovation will be broken down, and investment in this space will be seen as equally important as that which we continue to see in the fitness and mental health arena. As the industry continues to grow, develop, and garner increasing financial backing, entrepreneurs who are excited about catering to the unmet needs of women’s health will feel more inspired to innovate and develop solutions that empower women to take control of their health and wellbeing at every stage of their life. My hope is that apps like Emjoy will spark a revolution among women and help to close the gendered orgasm gap for good, because once you start feeling good with your body, why would you stop?

Andrea Oliver GarciaAbout the author

Andrea Oliver Garcia is the CEO and co-founder of Emjoy, the sexual wellbeing audio app enabling women to explore their bodies, learn about their sexuality and to arouse their minds.

Andrea has more than five years of experience working as an investor with Venture Capital firms including Dawn Capital, early investors in iZettle, and Nauta Capital. She holds a BBA from ESADE Business School in Spain.


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FemTech Forum

Win a ticket to FemTech Forum 2020 - the first global virtual conference about FemTech

FEMTECH FORUM

WeAreTechWomen have ten tickets to giveaway for the FemTech Forum 2020 on 25th June.

The FemTech Forum - the first global virtual conference about FemTech - is a celebration of innovation in women’s health, spotlighting tech-powered solutions and products that are disrupting the market and changing our everyday lives for the better.

Investors are starting to recognise the value of the FemTech space, which is estimated to be worth $50 billion by 2025, according to Frost & Sullivan. Women in the workforce spend 29 per cent more per capita on healthcare than their male peers and they’re 75 per cent more likely to use digital tools to track their health.

Organised by Women of Wearables (WoW), a global community for women in emerging technologies that has grown to become a network of more than 20,000 members, is hosting the virtual conference on FemTech on June 25th.

The one-day forum, which will be held on Zoom, will address topics like fertility, sexual wellness, the gender gap in medical research and more.

FemTech Forum - All speakers

The A-list panel of speakers includes: Eirini Rapti, Founder and CEO of Inne; Sophia Bendz, Partner at Atomico; Louise Samet, Partner at Blossom Capital; Gian Seehra, Investor at Octopus Ventures; Michelle Kennedy, Founder and CEO of Peanut; Valentina Milanova, Founder and CEO of Daye; Elina Berglund Scherwitzl, Co-Founder and CEO of Natural Cycles; Lea von Bidder, Co-Founder and CEO of Ava; Billie Quinlan, Founder and CEO of Ferly; Katherine Ryder, Founder and CEO of Maven Clinic; Afton Vechery, Co-Founder and CEO of Modern Fertility and Kat Mañalac, Partner at Y Combinator.

This competition is now closed.

 

 

 

 


women's body, health, yoga featured

When it comes to understanding the female body, we're stuck in the stone age | Lea Von Bidder

women's body, health, yoga

Article provided by Lea Von Bidder, co-founder and President Ava Science, Inc.

As a woman and the co-founder of a femtech company, I can tell you that one of the biggest challenges and opportunities is the gender data gap. 

We are behind where we should be when it comes to understanding women’s health.

Historically, women haven’t been equally represented in clinical trials. In some cases, even drugs aimed at women are tested on men. (One now-infamous study into the alcohol-related side-effects of “female-viagra,” featured 23 male subjects and only two women.)

This discrepancy has been due to the fear that female subjects might be pregnant, but also because the hormonal fluctuations that occur throughout the menstrual cycle have been deemed “too complicated”—a variable that could confound results. It’s an absurd irony because those hormonal shifts are precisely what make us women—you know, the other 50 per cent of the population who would be using the drugs those studies were aimed at.

This bias isn’t just present in drug trials. Most of society’s decision making, from how seatbelts are designed to what we consider ambient room temperature, is determined with men as the primary test case, and women as the unmeasured variant.

On the surface, we don’t question that men and women are different. We have genetic discrepancies, a different hormonal make-up, and different average lifespans—yet research often fails to disaggregate data for sex and analyse it separately.

There’s a burgeoning movement to bring more awareness to women’s health issues, and it centers on breaking taboos around menstruation. In recent years, we’ve finally seen red liquid being poured onto a sanitary pad in advertising (in lieu of the clinical blue), stylish suppliers proudly promoting organic tampons, and a documentary about periods winning an Academy Award. At last, it’s okay to have a period and talk about it.

But that conversation is just the start of what it will take to demystify the female body. To me, menstruation is actually the least interesting part of the menstrual cycle, hormonally speaking. During the rest of the month, women undergo massive shifts in hormone levels with impacts throughout the body. But hardly anyone, from OBGYNs, to women’s health experts, to women themselves, is aware of these changes.

I believe that this knowledge should be fundamental for women and their healthcare providers. Where a woman happens to be in her menstrual cycle impacts her metabolism, sleep, athletic performance, response to certain medications, and, of course, whether she can get pregnant. Information with such broad and profound impacts should not be a mystery. And it doesn’t have to be.

When Pascal, Philipp, Peter and I founded Ava in 2014, it was with the mission to advance women’s reproductive health by bringing together artificial intelligence and clinical research. And I’m proud to share that we’ve just achieved a major milestone: Our clinical research has just been made public in a scientific paper published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Medical Internet Research. 

The paper demonstrates that five physiological signals change throughout the menstrual cycle, and that by tracking these signals, we can identify the fertile window of a woman’s cycle in real time. Our flagship product, the Ava fertility tracker, is the only fertility-tracking method available that measures all five of these signs.

With these published findings, we’ve broadened scientific understanding of the menstrual cycle by shedding light on its most central component: the fertile window. It’s rare for a digital health company to conduct its own clinical research and even rarer to reveal the secret sauce behind its technology. But bottom line is only one of our goals; expanding knowledge is another. There’s so much more uncharted ground to cover—and it spans a woman’s reproductive life, from puberty to menopause. Ava is already putting research efforts into some of those unknowns.

At the same time, we’re working to encourage the public discussion around the gender bias in scientific research, so we can take women’s health out of the shadowy domain of mystery and into the spotlight.


femtech featured

The importance of 'femtech': Why we need to start breaking old taboos

FemtechTo explain how I created the term ‘femtech’, I need to start with why I started the female health app Clue in the first place.

When I was 30, I realised that my method of birth control wasn’t working for me, and I didn’t feel there were any solutions out there that really suited me. I thought it was insane that we were able to put a man on the moon, but we didn’t have a tool that would help us understand our body’s unique patterns in real time.

I have always been curious about women's health and was interested in incorporating technology and data analysis into my daily life. Now we call that a “quantified self” person, but this was long before I knew the term. These were the drivers to launch Clue - an app that could clue people in with personalised health data and that would give them awareness of the unique patterns in their bodies and their cycles.

We launched Clue in 2013, but it was at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco in the autumn of 2016 that I coined the term ‘femtech’. It occurred to me that while all other available technologies were grouped together in a logical way, the products aimed at women were scattered all over the exhibition hall, looking lost and out of place. I knew that it would be helpful to have a unifying term for all the products I saw emerging in the tech industry addressing needs around women’s biology, so I suggested that we introduce a term for the category we felt part of. We called it femtech. By defining the group of products that are associated with female health, we are creating an entirely new category of technology and, by grouping these technologies, it paves the way for femtech conferences and for VC’s to invest in femtech, building out a femtech portfolio. This legitimises the market.

Legitimising and naming our space in the market goes far beyond seeking investment. Historically, female health - from the first menstruation through to pregnancy and menopause - has been considered a ‘niche’ subject, something that is only relevant to women and which is burdened by a lot of stigma. As such, this has left us in a place where gender inequality still exists, and where research into female health is limited and unrepresentative of the wider population. It still takes women an average of seven years to receive an endometriosis diagnosis, while conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome are frequently misdiagnosed, with women being made to feel that they exaggerate their symptoms.

At Clue, we’re excited to be using anonymised user data to further scientific research. When women track their period through Clue, they contribute an unprecedented data set that is essential for continuing our understanding of female health. Clue is known for working with top research institutions and clinicians, including Columbia University, Stanford University, University of Oxford and Kinsey Institute, to name a few. Our scientific collaborations are exploring questions like: what pain patterns are considered ‘normal’ in which populations? What mood patterns do we see around ovulation? How might our menstrual and symptoms patterns help us spot disease and illness earlier? It is also worth noting that the data we share with these institutions is always stripped of identifying factors, and only aims to answer research questions of a non-commercial nature.

My hope is that femtech will keep being a driver for improving wellness, health and women’s lives in general, and that we will see big commercial successes in the category too, fulfilling the huge economic potential that exists in femtech. From femtech companies, through to scientists, VCs and users, I see that we are finally moving away from the idea that reproductive health is ‘niche’ and something to only be spoken about in whispers. This is a fantastic driver for a more equal and healthy society, not only for women, but for all.

Ida Tin, Co-Founder of ClueAbout the author

Ida Tin is a Danish entrepreneur and author, who is the co-founder and CEO of female health app Clue (www.helloclue.com).

She is also the woman responsible for coining the term ‘femtech’.


Inspirational Woman: Ida Tin | Co-Founder & CEO, Clue

Ida Tin, Co-Founder of Clue

Ida Tin is a Danish entrepreneur and author, who is the co-founder and CEO of female health app Clue (www.helloclue.com).

She is also the woman responsible for coining the term ‘femtech’.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I am Ida Tin, the founder and CEO of the female health app Clue (www.helloclue.com). I started Clue because I was puzzled that there had been so little innovation in family planning, and why it still wasn’t possible for me to really know what was going on in my body related to my reproductive health - I had questions like, can I become pregnant today? Have I gotten pregnant? What side effects will I have from different types of birth control - and even a simple thing like, when will my next period come? So I started to build Clue. It is a free period tracking app, designed to help women and people who menstruate around the world track their cycles and unlock the power of their bodies. To date, Clue has over 12 million active users across more than 190 countries.

Through the Clue app, users can: track their period, symptoms of PMS, fertile window, moods and cramps; they can also log food cravings, energy levels, skin and hair quality, exercise and weight. Users can also track their birth control methods, log basal body temperature and ovulation, set reminders to alert them of when their next period is due or when they should take their oral contraception.

Our long-term goal is to be the go-to, scientifically-reliable source of information for women, addressing all aspects of their reproductive health - from their first period, through to pregnancy and menopause. We want to open up the conversation around this topic and aid in furthering research into this crucial aspect of female health.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I actually wanted to become an artist, but literally got lost in the hallways of a university in London and ended up doing an entrepreneurship course for people in the creative arts. That was in 1999, and I have been self-employed since then, I have never actually held a job anywhere other than in companies I have started myself.

I have always been fascinated with stories of strong women fighting for equality. I grew up travelling the world on motorcycles and having seen the lives of women all over the planet, and their strength, it is close to my heart to build technology than can support them in unfolding their potential - and quite literally the potential of the world. I would always encourage anyone to pursue their interests and do what they are truly passionate about – that’s the best way to decide on a career that is right for you.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

I would say that in my role as a leader, the biggest challenge is to keep learning and growing as a human. There is a maybe surprising, but clear correlation between my personal growth and that of the company. I focus on what I do best, and try to be humble enough to step aside in all the many areas where people I have hired are far better than myself. This can be difficult as the company grows and in a sense, my area of responsibilities keeps shrinking. At the same time, what’s left gets harder - culture, long term strategy for the company and becoming a sustainable company in its broadest sense. And to keep defining my role myself, as the pressure from the outside to fulfill it in ways that others have before me, increases. I don’t feel I fit the mold of a traditional CEO in many ways and it takes a lot of courage to keep staying true to what I am, my potential and my desires.

In terms of the business as a whole, when Clue first started, it was a challenge trying to prove the value of what many think of as a ‘niche’ women’s product. Now “femtech” is a known category and apps like Clue affect women, science communities and crucially, culture as a whole. In this sense femtech doesn’t only encompass products for women, but instead tools and services that advance all of society, and we must keep this in mind as we seek and provide funding, and hire talent.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I would say that two of our main achievements have been when we surpassed 10, and then very quickly, 12 million global users. Knowing that the product we created was needed and was used by so many people, in over 190 countries around the world, has been a huge achievement. Similarly, launching our  website, HelloClue.com, in 2018 was a great highlight, and was one of the many examples of our company developing in response to user demand. In the course of 2017, our Support Team received over 1,000 enquiries relating to menstrual health, contraception or symptoms, which meant that the answers were not readily available online. We decided to create a resource that would address these questions and provide reliable, scientifically accurate information to anyone who might be looking for it. Launching this resource and watching it grow has been a hugely rewarding experience.

I am also both proud and grateful for the culture we have in the office, with people from all over the world and of different sexual orientations. When people tell me that for the first time in their careers they can come to work as their full selves and feel included, that makes me think that we are doing something right. I also know that as different as we are at Clue, we share a big sense of purpose doing the work we do, and that feels like both a huge resource and a gift.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

I think that one of the main factors for Clue being as successful as it is, is the fact that when we started, I was surrounded by dedicated and passionate co-founders who believed in Clue as much as I do. Since then, we have grown an incredibly strong and supporting team, including our investors, all of whom share the same vision - we want to give people greater control of their own bodies, and arm them with knowledge about this fundamental aspect of their lives.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

I would advise anyone who is keen to pursue a career in technology to never hesitate in seeking advice. Entrepreneurship, even though it is hugely rewarding when you succeed, can be tough, so advice and a sympathetic ear can go a long way in helping. I would especially recommend all budding CEOs to reach out to existing technology leaders for support, advice and mentorship. By supporting one another in our pursuits, tech entrepreneurs will continue to develop and grow in whichever industry their choose.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

I think we still have some way to go towards achieving gender equality within the workplace in general, and not just in technology. To do this, I think men and women alike need to support each other, and open the conversation around how we listen, or not really listen, to women’s ideas and perspectives. Women are more angry than we notice even ourselves, and we are taught to suppress this anger. This is a huge energy drain, and it also means that women don’t take, nor are given, the airtime, the space and - essentially, the power that the world would be well served to make use of. When we are angry there is most likely a good reason for it; not being met at eye level, not having our boundaries respected, not being given the opportunities we have earned. With our anger comes clarity and more space for unfolding potential. This does not mean that we should forget good communication, but that we shouldn’t just smile when we’re feeling angry.

What do you think companies can do to support to progress the careers of women working in technology?

The best thing companies can do is listen to women – to their ideas and their concerns – and support them in achieving their aims. We should be supporting them through all areas of life, from the start of their career, through to maternity leave and their return to work. Providing adequate support and encouragement maintains talent retainment and is good business sense.

There is currently only 15% of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

I would give woman belief in themselves. Confidence that what they care about is valid, that they have good solutions to difficult problems. That they can learn along the way, and that what they think is smart. More than anything, women are often the ones holding themselves back. Be brave. That doesn’t mean be hard, or completely unafraid, or refuse to ask for help, or never fail. It means having the courage to try, and try again in the face of all these difficulties. The world needs more diverse voices to be heard, and more options for doing things in new ways. The old models are breaking, have already broken. It’s paramount that new values are expressed and lived.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

I listen to audiobooks whenever I can - on my commute, as I do laundry. That’s how I get to “read” a fair amount of books because sitting down to read is not really possible in my life right now, while juggling a business and two small kids. I love listening to women who have broken the norm, fought for their communities. I also listen to lots of non-fiction about leadership, the future of technology, data, algorithms, ethics and health. And of course I love books that teach me new things about the female body. It’s an absolutely fascinating system that we still need to do much more research on. When it comes to conferences, they can be inspiring and mind opening, but also a bit overwhelming. It’s often the few deeper conversations I end up having with someone that I will remember.

I have a number of various teachers, coaches, trainers, advisers. Right now, I am particularly excited about working with a somatic body coach and a spiritual teacher.