Meet the woman who invented a whole new subsection of tech set to be worth $1 trillion

Ida Tin wanted to study art at college when she accidentally landed herself a place on a business course – she then became a pioneer of an industry set to be worth more than $1 trillion.

“I literally got lost in the hallways and I ended up in some office where they were waiting for a candidate to do [the business course interview],” Tin said as she explained her first steps into the business world.

She took the course and later combined her artistic skills with entrepreneurial flair to found a jewelry company, followed by a motorbike tour company, and then in 2012 she co-founded Clue, a menstrual health app that now has 11 million monthly active users.

Clue was one of the first period-tracking apps, and it allows users to track their cycles, as well as side effects such as mood, energy levels and eating habits.

As Clue gained users, Tin realized there wasn’t much of a community around women’s health services and products, despite more and more coming onto the market.

“They felt like kindred spirits and I was trying to figure out how we spoke about ourselves and our products … So I really wanted something that could pull it together under one umbrella,” Tin told CNBC. And so, in 2016, the name “FemTech” was born.

The term now covers all types of technology and innovation designed to address health issues that solely, or disproportionately, impact women’s health, from menstrual cycle tracking apps and sexual wellness products to cardiovascular medical devices and mental health therapies.

Giving FemTech its own name helped the community of people working in the sector to find each other, but also gave investors reassurance about where they were putting their money, Tin said.

“It’s a little easier to say you’re invested in FemTech than, you know, a company that helps women not pee their pants … It kind of bridged the gap over to men as well, which was important, still is important, because so many investors are men.”

“And I have to say I have been surprised but I really see how it’s resonating globally,” she added.

The FemTech industry will be worth an estimated $1.186 trillion by 2027, according to forecasts by the non-profit organization FemTech focus.

The estimate defines the market as products and services designed to tackle 97 health conditions that “solely, disproportionately, or differently affect girls, females, and women.” That covers 23 subsections of women’s health, including menopause, bone health, abortion, brain health, cardiovascular and reproductive health.

FemTech funding is ‘peanuts’

From bodysuits that use heat and vibrations to alleviate period pains to wearable technology that helps breast cancer patients to recover, there isn’t a lack of creativity and innovation in the FemTech space, but many of the businesses aren’t getting the capital they need to fully get off the ground, Tin says.

“We’re still getting peanuts to play with when you see the amount of money that has been invested into, you know, e-scooters, car sharing … They just have so much money to build very impressive companies. I haven’t seen that kind of funding yet at all,” Tin said.

“We have to prove ourselves so hard along this journey,” she said. “We’ve raised a lot of money and you know, comparably, we’ve done well. But I think we’ve been underfunded all along, honestly.”

More than 80% of FemTech startups have a female founder, according to trend forecasting agency Ultra Violet Futures, and it’s widely documented that women-founded companies garner less funding. In 2022, companies founded by women received just 2% of the total capital invested in venture-backed startups in the U.S., according to PitchBook data for February.

Gaps in the market

There are big voids in the market when it comes to technology designed around women’s health, according to Tin.