Elvie, the developer of femtech hardware including a silent wearable breast pump and a smart pelvic floor exerciser, is one of the boldest startups around.
Led by co-founder and chief executive officer Tania Boler, the London-based business has successfully infiltrated the bro-y community of venture capitalists, which has historically shied away from the “unrelatable” and “niche” sector that is women’s health. Of course, that sector isn’t niche at all, the global women’s health market is expected to be worth $51.3 billion by 2025, but investors have only recently begun to accept that reality.
Elvie is today announcing its third private financing, a $42 million Series B led by IPGL to support the release of four additional women’s health products. Octopus Ventures and Impact Ventures U.K. have also participated in the round.
Six-year-old Elvie is led by Boler and co-founder Alexander Asseily, a hardware vet and co-founder of the consumer electronics business Jawbone, which despite its many struggles, managed to get VCs to cough up hundreds of millions of dollars before it folded. Boler’s expertise in the space — she has a Ph.D. in sexual health — and Asseily’s hardware prowess have undoubtedly lured investors, as has Elvie’s breast pump, launched in September, which boasts a waitlist of thousands of women.
Under Boler’s fearless leadership, Elvie has raised nearly $50 million and started a much-needed conversation around women’s issues, like pelvic floor health and public breastfeeding.
Elvie’s latest attempt to change the narrative around public breastfeeding involved five giant inflatable breasts being placed across London’s skyline. On Mother’s Day in the U.K., March 31, Elvie’s #FreeTheFeed campaign attempted to fight the stigma around breastfeeding and pumping in public in what the startup said was “an invitation to stand with all those women that have felt shamed or confined when breastfeeding or pumping.”
“We know the giant boobs will raise a few eyebrows, but we want to make sure no one overlooks the way that this stigma has been used to repress women,” Boler said in a statement.
“When you create a new category, you have to educate the market and you have to change the conversation,” Boler added in an interview with TechCrunch earlier this week.
Elvie’s long-term plan is to develop products supportive of women at every stage in her life, whether that be pre-natal, menopausal or otherwise, and to become a one-stop shop for women’s health. Its debut product, the app-connected Kegel trainer, helps women strengthen their pelvic floor with five-minute workouts and real-time biofeedback. Its second product, the silent wearable breast pump, is similarly app-connected and monitors milk volume in real-time, tracks pumping history for each breast and can be operated remotely. Both have been category-defining triumphs.
The company will use its latest investment to continue R&D on upcoming products and to build brand awareness and distribution for the Elvie pump and the Elvie Kegel trainer across the U.S., Canada, Europe and Asia.
Elvie’s round follows a number of new investments in the femtech space. Today, another women’s health startup, Cora, closed a $7.5 million investment. Another, NextGen Jane, raised $9 million in a round announced yesterday to use blood wrung from tampons to possibly discover early markers of endometriosis.
“I think it’s really an exciting moment for femtech,” Boler said. “The tech sector is waking up to the importance of the female consumer.”