- Pioneering femtech startup Elvie says it has tripled its revenue for 2020, despite disruption from the coronavirus.
- The women’s health company says it has adopted an Apple-like model that mixes services and innovative hardware.
- Elvie has increased headcount by 55% in 2020 and is set to launch a major fundraise in the coming weeks.
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Femtech startup Elvie has gone from a tricky sell to investors to one of Europe’s hottest tech companies in the space of a few years.
The UK-based “femtech” (technology aimed at improving women’s health) company is committed to becoming a “one-stop shop” for women’s health, according to CEO and cofounder Tania Boler. The startup’s products cover a variety of needs including breast feeding and pelvic floor exercises.
Boler holds a PhD on teenage pregnancy and HIV in South Africa, plus qualifications in experimental psychology and international educational policy. Her background is in campaigning for women’s health, and she was previously the global director of research and innovation at Marie Stopes International.
“Our heartbeat is turning medical products into women’s health products which they love,” Boler told Business Insider.
Currently, Elvie sells a number of products. One is the Elvie Trainer, a pelvic floor trainer and app that is now used by the NHS. The wearable device enables women to undertake daily five-minute exercises that strengthen their pelvic floor muscles, with the accompanying app providing feedback in real time.
Another is a silent, wearable breast pump, which Elvie claims is a world-first and makes it possible to pump any time, anywhere. A companion app lets women monitor pumping progress and pause pumping when the bottle is full. Elvie also offers Catch and Curve, which are tech-less hardware options.
The company is set to launch new products in the first quarter of 2021 following production delays.
According to market research firm Frost and Sullivan, the femtech industry is expected to reach a market size of up to $50 billion by 2025. Elvie’s own growth has tripled in 2020, according to Boler who said that US revenues have doubled this year.
Boler doesn’t precisely compare Elvie to Apple, but says the startup has borrowed Apple’s model of mixing services, products, accessories, tech, and hardware.
Much like the Cupertino giant, Elvie wasn’t immune to supply chain issues during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic.
The company’s operations in China had already been disrupted by ongoing US-China trade disputes, while the pandemic hit production at Elvie’s Mexican factory. “It was a nightmare,” Boler said.
Production staff would usually spend months onboarding on location but were unable to do so. It led to some creative thinking with some engineers 3D printing designs in their homes while other engineers at the company’s Bristol R&D hub directed staff in Mexico equipped with Go-Pro cameras via video calls.
One potential positive out of the pandemic has been hiring.
“We’ve brought in some amazing women from companies like Amazon and Costa, and when Dyson