Australia’s Femtech Ecosystem at a Glance
It’s only been a few weeks since the newest chapter of FemTech Collective launched in Sydney and many of us suddenly realized how little we actually know about the tech and femtech scene in Australia! Well. Today we’re determined to change that!
Megan Capriccio is FemTech Collective’s Sydney Ambassador and besides supporting the local ecosystem, she is also determined to connect founders and funders throughout the APAC region.
Megan is an entrepreneur, product manager, and business strategy analyst with a passion for creating, building, and growing companies that support and empower women in a variety of industries. She is the Co-Founder and CPO of Vikera Tequila, an ultra-premium tequila that celebrates women in wine and spirits and a Product Manager at a Sydney-based startup, XpertFinder.
Last week we caught up with Megan, who shared her insights and helped us learn more about the Australian femtech and startup scene.
For those of us, who are not very familiar with the Australian startup scene: Generally speaking, what are the biggest startup hubs in Australia? Every country also has its “success stories” of startups, who made it big. Which companies
MC: The biggest tech/startup hub for Australia is in Sydney. Brisbane and Melbourne are a far 2nd and 3rd to the high concentration of startups that launch in Sydney. I’d say this is not only because of the population size, but also the accessibility to resources: Major transportation links, large number of great education institutions with an innovation and entrepreneurship focus, and in my biased opinion, it’s a wonderful place to live. I found this nice breakdown below for a complete overview:
The Sydney-based startup that is getting quite a lot of buzz right now is Canva. I’m sure many people are aware of Canva by now, but if not it’s a great product that easily allows anyone to be a designer. It uses drag-and-drop features to create images and graphics for both virtual and print media. With much celebration, they were recently valued at $4.7 billion, tripling their value from 18 months ago.
Now let’s switch gear to femtech. Where are most Australian femtech companies based? Are they mostly focused on the Australian market or do they operate globally?
MC: To my knowledge, an official study of the spread of FemTech companies has yet to be conducted, but I’d say even though the majority reside in Sydney, there are a good amount that also reside in Melbourne. We’re seeing a rise of FemTech companies that focus on sexual health coming out of Melbourne such as No Grey, an app focusing on enthusiastic consent, and Assembly Four, an app aimed at safety and ease of payment for sex workers.
FemTech in Australia, although continuously growing, is still a fairly new category of tech. Most of the current FemTech companies are finding their way in the Australian market but do very much have their sights on expanding globally. We have a strong relationship with and exchange resources and best case practices with fellow FemTech communities in Tokyo and Silicon Valley, but the truth is our realities and cultures are all very different.
What are the most well-known or most promising femtech startups in Australia?
MC: A very well-known FemTech company is Modibodi, a Sydney-based startup who’s leak-proof apparel, underwear, and swimwear gives you more confidence and comfort with your period or incontinence. Modibodi is really transforming women’s personal hygiene products and, furthermore, allowing women to realize that periods, sweat, and incontinence are not shameful but rather part of the complete human experience. Not to mention their products are comfortable, sexy and sassy. I’m a big fan and can’t wait to pick up a pair for summer.
Another product making waves is a Brisbane-based startup called Wanngi, which markets itself as your online wallet for your health. Wanngi is an app that not only allows you to track your fitness, nutrition, and medical symptoms but also to upload your health records so your complete health is organized in one place. This would allow for a complete understanding of your health history for your doctor and strive for a more accurate understanding and diagnosis.
I think one of the most promising FemTech companies is a Sydney-based startup called Hypothyroid Body Transformation that helps women who have hypothyroid problems with complete health, fitness, and nutrition. The company is continuously growing and is helping women all through Australia who are struggling with their health due to hypothyroid conditions.
Are there any VCs, business angels or accelerators, that are particularly active in the femtech space? Or do founders usually look for investments outside of Australia?
MC: Yes, there are few. SoGal Ventures is a female led venture capital firm that is redefining the next generation of diverse funders and founders. SoGal is powered by over 40 cities globally and hold global pitch competitions in hopes of encouraging interest in innovation and technology with millenial and Gen Z entrepreneurs. They are not exclusively interested in FemTech companies but the FemTech Collective encourages Founders to apply to SoGal programs.
There’s also the SheStarts accelerator program specifically for women-led startups. SheStarts is fairly new accelerator program as it’s only in its 3rd round, but its goal to equip women with the right skills to take on entrepreneurship and big tech ideas is the support the FemTech community in Australia needs to progress forward.
There are also many resources that help women-run and operated startups and brands such as The Femeconomy (A marketplace for exclusively for women led brands), FemTech Revolution (A new annual FemTech conference) and many more women in tech communities throughout Australia. To my knowledge, there aren’t any exclusive FemTech VCs, accelerators, or business angels yet in Australia.
We’re hoping that as the FemTech community grows and innovation in the space becomes more commonplace that we can begin forming partnerships with firms who see the value in a FemTech initiative. There is still a bit of hesitation to present a FemTech categorized product to rooms full of male investors. There’s a fear they 1. won’t understand the value of the product 2. will be uninterested in the product because they aren’t able to personally use it or 3. will hear the term FemTech and immediately dismiss the product because they don’t want to talk about periods, menstruation, fertility, menopause, etc.
This is a stigma we definitely want to overcome. By advocating for FemTech companies to our partners as well as equipping our founders with the proper tools to educate potential stakeholders, we hope that FemTech will be seen as a category of tech that doesn’t just help women, it makes for a healthy society.
Are there any events in Australia, that are of particular interest for local or international femtech founders, who are interested in the Australian market?
MC: The FemTech Collective holds regular in-person and virtual events. Please do sign up for our newsletter to never miss what we’re up to!
We’re planning an event in January with FemTech presentations and panels from around the region. Stay tuned for updates!
We also hold quarterly, virtual events with the FemTech Collective community to discuss news and trends in the Asia Pacific region.
What’s next for the Australian chapter of Femtech Collective?
MC: The FemTech Collective in Australia is still very new and our main priority is growing the community throughout the country. We want to create a space within Australia that cultivates ideas and leaders of the FemTech community and sets us on the path for women’s health tech to be more of a priority.
To do this, we want to spread the ethos of what FemTech is and what it will collectively mean for the Australian public. We see the importance of innovation in women’s health tech because to us, healthier women, at every stage of life, equates to a better and healthier society as a whole. Healthy women, healthy babies, healthy society.
We want to keep this mission at the forefront to not only solidify the somewhat ambiguous (and confusing to some) definition of the term FemTech, but also to curate a diverse and inclusive environment in which everyone is welcome. Yes, male allies (and everyone throughout the gender and sex spectrums) are welcome and encouraged to join our community. The more diverse perspectives and backgrounds we have within the FemTech Collective, the more successful we can be to create great tech in this space.