Terri talks to Tracy Warren, the CEO of Astarte Ventures, about FemTech, PediaTech, and the need to better fund these healthcare and technology companies that are struggling due to lack of funding, Terri is challenging Venture Capitalists to go back to being risk takers and invest in these startups because of the huge opportunities in these spaces.
Who is Tracy Warren?
Tracy is general partner of Astarte Ventures, an early stage investment firm focused exclusively on women’s and children’s health and wellbeing. The firm has made investments in eight companies with technologies focused on women and children, including Maven, Prima-Temp, Naya Health and Madorra. Through Astarte Ventures, Tracy and her co-founders came together to form Astarte Medical to dramatically impact the lives of preterm infants. As founding CEO, she leverages her experience of serial entrepreneurship and over 15 years as a venture capitalist and early stage investor to lead strategy and fundraising.
Prior to Astarte Ventures, Tracy served as general partner at Battelle Ventures and focused on investments in health & life sciences, as well as emerging energy technologies, with an emphasis on institutional-based transactions.
- Tracy shares her background starting as an investment banker, moving into venture capital, and then into investing in women and infant health.
- Terri provides an explanation of FemTech and PediaTech. FemTech is not supporting female founders but is focused on women’s health. PediaTech is focused on children’s health.
- Only recently have women been recognized as the focal point for decision making in healthcare.
- 80-85% of all household healthcare decisions are made by women.
- Digital health / convenience technologies start to change the conversation around women’s health.
- Healthcare must change to meet the needs of women and all of the things they juggle on a daily basis. Women can be early adopters of the tech to deliver the caliber of health women want and deserve.
- Tracy and Terri are not seeing the momentum in the FemTech space. They are seeing a lot of good companies, but these companies are struggling due to lack of funding and there’s no obvious avenue to getting better access to the funding to truly grow and scale the companies to have the impact. It’s a catch-22.
- Many people still see FemTch as evangelistic.
- Terri commented on how VCs traditionally took greater risk investing but aren’t doing so now and she challenged the VCs to return to taking risks in this space where there is unmet need and demand and great opportunity.
- Terri is seeing movement in the employer space to provide more female and family friendly benefits. Tracy agrees that employers are focused on employee retention and will be the first to put some stakes in the ground in this space.
- Tracy says the challenge is greater culturally. Women’s issues have been largely attributed to just being a woman and not seen as treatable and real health issues. Examples include menopause and post-partum related issues.
- Terri talks about how women are not heard when they visit healthcare providers. There’s no empathy, only pity. This is a healthcare provider training issue and women need to better advocate for themselves and not rely on the ‘doctor knows best’ myth.
- Tracy talks about how women are now able to talk about things that our mothers didn’t talk about like periods, sex-related issues, and other female health topics. As the walls start coming down between women and culturally (like on TV) the solutions will become more mainstream and possible.
- Terri asked Tracy if the openness that we have in California the same across the country and Tracy said no, not yet. The shift will occur with each generation. Education is a powerful thing.
- Tracy shares how her daughter is a shrewd shopper about her health and the apps. There is self-advocacy now that didn’t exist even 15 years ago.
- Tracy talks about some of her early stage investing in the FemTech and PediaTech space including Maven Clinic, PrimaTemp (infertility/fertility), Astarte Medical (improving pre-term birth outcomes), and Madorra (vaginal dryness).
- If Tracy could wave a magic wand, she would find a way for people to be able to control their own healthcare. The US system was designed to cover everyone regardless of the choices they have made. Now that we move into preventive health, we need to rethink the model and blow it up and start it all over again. This would put women in charge.
- Terri expands on the importance of getting childhood diseases under control to reduce the longer-term quality of life issues and the increase in cost of chronic disease treatment and management.
- Tracy talks about the perverse incentives of the pharma companies to develop and sell the billion-dollar drugs to treat sickness rather than having investors invest in companies that are focused on preventive measures.
- Tracy talks about gender-based trial design and there has been a significant amount of research around women at different lifecycles related to specific conditions. She thinks there will be a data play at some point that will consider these differences.
Terri’s Key Takeaway
Data is out there; it will be liberated; and it will guide us to better care.
References in the Podcast
- Stacy Feld: https://www.linkedin.com/in/stacy-feld-0061141/
- Ida Tin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/idatin/
- Clue: https://helloclue.com/
- Maven Clinic: https://www.mavenclinic.com/
- Tammi Jantzen: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tammi-jantzen-64066b32/
- Girl Boss Radio: https://www.girlboss.com/podcast
- Nicole Dahlstrom: FemTech Collective: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nicole-dahlstrom-066a1042/
- Lola: https://www.mylola.com/
- ElleBox: https://elleboxco.com/
- PrimaTemp: http://www.prima-temp.com/
- Astarte Medical: http://www.astartemedical.com/
- Madorra: http://www.madorra.com/
- Tueo Health: http://www.tueohealth.com/
Tracy can be reached via LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/tracy-warren-57a29/.
You can follow Terri on Twitter at @terrihansonmead or go to her website at www.terrihansonmead.com or on Medium: https://medium.com/@terrihansonmead.
Feel free to email Terri at PilotingYourLife@gmail.com.
To continue the conversation, go to Twitter at @PilotingLife and use hashtag #PilotingYourLife.