By the Numbers: Investments in Women & Women’s Health

Avestria Ventures
5 min readMar 8, 2021

At Avestria Ventures, we invest in early-stage women’s health and female- led life science ventures — and we still hear that these areas represent a “niche market” and/or, if they were truly lucrative, someone would have already invested in them.

But how can female founders and women’s health startups be dismissed when neither group has received equal funding or attention as male founders, male-led ventures, and even men’s healthcare? This International Women’s Day, we’re looking at the numbers behind female entrepreneurship, women in venture capital, and women’s healthcare.

The Numbers Behind Female Founders:

Firstly, about 2.3% of venture capital dollars went to female founders in 2020: down from an all-time-high of about 2.8% in 2019. In 2019,though, female founders collectively received $1.5 billion less than WeWork alone.

Although the number of black female founders who have received at least $1M in VC backing has nearly tripled in the last few years, these founders still received only 0.64% of all venture capital dollars in 2020.

Despite the lack of capital, female-led teams continue to perform better than male-led teams. They not only have 35% higher ROIs and 63% higher valuations on average compared to all male-teams but also generate $0.78 revenue generated per dollar raised vs. $0.31 for all-male teams.

The bottom line: Female founders achieve comparable revenue with 33% less capital compared to male-led businesses.

The Numbers Behind Women in Venture Capital:

Venture capital firms with at least one female investing partner are 2x more likely to fund female founders and 3x more likely to fund companies with female CEOs than VC firms with all male partners are

But only 12% of decision makers in US venture capital firms are women.

The bottom line: Without women in positions of power in the venture capital industry, the VC environment — and the people and companies receiving funds — can stay homogenous.

The Numbers (+ Timeline) Behind Women’s Health:

Female entrepreneurs are more likely to be the founders of women’s health companies than male entrepreneurs are. Women as patients, though, have historically been diminished and underrepresented.

1977: Women of child-bearing potential were excluded completely from almost all early-phase clinical research by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The only exceptions were for life-threatening conditions.

1993: The FDA reversed that ban with the NIH Revitalization Act.

1997–2001: The FDA withdrew 10 prescription drugs from the market, eight of which caused greater health risks in women than men. Since the pre-clinical studies were completed with mostly male participants, the drugs’ true effects on women weren’t revealed until after they were commercially available.

2016: Just five years ago, the National Institute of Health (NIH) issued the Sex as a Biological Variable policy that said NIH-funded research must take sex into account when designing research studies and in collecting, analyzing, and publishing the results.

2016: The term “FemTech” was coined to define technology and products that meet the needs of women, specifically regarding their healthcare.

2018: Just 4% of overall funding for research and development (R&D) went to women’s healthcare products and services.

2020: Women’s health startups, still victims of this gender-based gap, received only $385M according to PitchBook data.

In contrast, national spending on healthcare in 2019 — before the COVID-19 pandemic hit — was $3.8 trillion: an amount that is expected to reach at least $6.2 trillion by 2028.

As a whole, the healthcare market — and, subsequently, those trillions of dollars — is dominated by women: the major users of healthcare. For example: 43% of women compared to 30% of men have an ongoing condition that requires regular monitoring, 81% of women compared to 68% of men have a specific clinician they usually go to for care, and 91% of women compared to 75% of men saw a provider in the past two years

Women are also more involved in healthcare across the board than men are: they make 80% of household healthcare decisions and are 80% of the healthcare workforce.

2020: FemTech was projected to be a $60 billion market by 2027 — however, that number might be an underestimation since the menopause market, a component of the overall FemTech market, is about $600 billion.

The bottom line: Despite being historically overlooked and underfunded, the women’s health space, now often synonymous with the word FemTech, is on the verge of major growth.

BONUS: The Numbers Behind Avestria’s Portfolio Companies:

94%: The number of cases in which Alydia Health’s Jada® System provided fast and definitive control of postpartum hemorrhage without the need for further treatment in the company’s pivotal trial. Read more about Alydia here.

33%: The percentage of Americans affected by urinary incontinence: Avation Medical’s first focus.

2020: The year Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry — and Un Kwon Casado of Dahlia Biosciences has the exclusive license to Doudna’s research tools and diagnostics to RNA-targeting Cas9.

6%: The number of clinical trials representing minorities proportionately — DrugViu’s focus —even though 40% of Americans are a minority. Read more about DrugViu here.

100M+: The number of individuals who have access, through their insurance provider, to Genome Medical’s genetic services. Read more about Genome Medical here.

75%: The reduction in study time physicians found through Knowledge to Practice’s personalized, microlearning approach to board reviews and continuing medical education. Read more about Knowledge to Practice (K2P) here.

70%: The number of breast cancer survivors who experience vaginal dryness. For menopausal women, that percent is 50%. Madorra is developing a non-invasive, non-hormonal treatment for these women who can’t or don’t want to use hormone therapy. Read more about Madorra here.

99%: The false-positive rate that fetal heart rate monitors have for hypoxia, cerebral palsy, and potential fetal death during labor. Raydiant Oximetry is developing an oximeter to work alongside these monitors to reduce false positives and, subsequently, unnecessary C-sections. Read more about Raydiant Oximetry here.

10x: Rhinostics’ estimate for how much their specimen collection kits could speed up labs’ diagnostic workflow. Read more about Rhinostics here.

100,000+: The number of people that Uqora has helped stay healthy through its urinary health products. Read more about Uqora here.

The bottom line: We’re looking forward to seeing our portfolio companies continue to improve and close the white spaces in both women’s health and female-led life science ventures. By International Women’s Day next year, we hope to see more and more investment and attention paid to women in entrepreneurship, venture capital, and health around the world.

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Avestria Ventures

Investing in early-stage women’s health and female-led life sciences companies.