By Tess Cosad, CEO and co-founder at Béa Fertility

Femtech is a uniquely exciting and dynamic space to work in. There’s so much demand for innovation and a constant opportunity to deliver genuinely life-changing solutions for underserved communities. It certainly comes with its challenges, but the reward of helping drive forward such game-changing innovation is unparalleled.

Since starting out in Femtech back in 2018, I’ve been lucky enough to experience this a number of times. Most recently, I had one of my proudest moments to date. Three years after setting out to build the UK’s first clinical-grade at-home fertility treatment at Béa Fertility, we were ready to launch.

As I held the finished product in my hands, I felt an overwhelming sense of achievement and gratitude. It’s amazing to have reached such an exciting point in our mission to break the ‘taboo’ surrounding fertility and to widen access to safe and effective care for those struggling to conceive. But the road to get here has been longer and more complex than I imagined.

These are the biggest lessons I’ve learned along the way and my advice for anyone else considering taking the leap into Femtech:

Be prepared to fight for funding

Raising investment in women’s health innovation can be difficult, particularly given the lack of diversity in VC. In what remains a predominantly male investor landscape, a true understanding of and drive for women’s health problems can be hard to find. The data speaks for itself: as little as 3% of health tech funding ends up going to femtech ventures.

It’s certainly something that I’ve experienced when seeking funding as a Femtech founder. Talking about the ‘cervix’ in front of a room full of mostly male investors is always going to be a tough gig. But if anything, this has reignited my determination to speak louder about women’s health and help dispel the ‘taboo’ that can so often present a barrier to Femtech investment and support.

When pitching, be prepared to really drive home the importance and demand for the solution you’re working to build. It can take time but it’s vital to find the right investors who really understand the necessity and scale of addressing the challenges within women’s health, and who are equally dedicated to helping solve them.

Your team is make or break

Women’s health innovation is full of uniquely complex challenges and obstacles and having the right people by your side, who can bolster and support you as you navigate these, is vital.

When building your team, consciously think about the impact you want to create. These are the people who are going to be helping bring your mission to life and you need to be able to trust and work effectively alongside them through both the ups and downs. Everyone – from operational leads and product developers to the investors who sit on your cap table – should be people who truly ‘get’ the mission you’re trying to achieve and who are committed to helping you tackle any and all hurdles along the way.

Patience is most definitely a virtue

Perhaps the hardest lesson I’ve had to learn as a Femtech founder is the need for unwavering patience. Things always take much longer than you expect and you’ll inevitably need to adapt and flex your strategy along the way.

Getting the Béa treatment kit right took more than 90 product iterations. This was necessary to rigorously test, gather feedback and ensure that we built a truly safe and effective solution. We also knew that we needed to create something that was sleek and comfortable for our users to use in their own homes. It has required us to evolve our product roadmap, continually build on each round of feedback and research, and raise additional funding to support us along the way.

While at times, having to build slowly has felt frustrating – I was so eager to get to the point where we could get the product into people’s hands – it’s been more than worth it to get to where we are today. With hindsight, I recognise that what felt ‘slow’ has actually been breakneck pace – as a team we’ve beaten all the odds and delivered above and beyond. FDA data shows it takes around 2.5 years to get a device from concept to commercialisation. We launched the Béa Treatment exactly 2 years after we first got going, which is an achievement we’re really proud of.

Within just a few weeks, we recorded our first pregnancies! There is no feeling that can replace knowing that we are helping those who have struggled to conceive to build their families.

The road to making your Femtech venture a reality may seem long, uncertain and incredibly daunting at times; but if you’re prepared to expect the unexpected, be flexible with your approach and have patience as you work toward your end goal, you can make an impact that genuinely changes lives and helps move women’s health one step closer towards equality. It’s an incredibly rewarding path.

About the author

Tess Cosad is CEO and co-founder at Béa Fertility: a startup on a mission to make clinical-grade fertility care available at home. Tess has many years of experience in tech and femtech: before starting Béa, she founded a B2B marketing agency called Emberson Ventures and a femtech company called Hers By Design. Tess was also the first woman to lead a digital marketing accelerator programme in Saudi Arabia, on behalf of the Growth Velocity Academy. She’s passionate about building businesses with impact.