December 2020 Power Womxn
We’re committed to uplifting the amazing womxn in tech who are working to ensure that everyone – no matter who they are or where they live – can achieve reproductive well-being. Brought to you by Pandia Health, we are pleased to launch the Power Womxn series in which we will feature womxn FemTech leaders and founders who are out to change the world!
This month’s Power Womxn is Nicole Dahlstrom, Founder, FemTech Collective.
What inspired you to start/lead your company?
In late 2016 I co-founded a probiotic business to help womxn treat bacterial vaginosis infections. I was a first-time founder and I didn’t know exactly what I was doing, but I was really inspired by other startups who were breaking centuries old taboos in the womxn’s health space and driving innovation like never before.
In 2017, I moved to the Bay Area to work alongside my cofounder who was based here. Together we discovered something that should have been obvious from the beginning: building a womxn’s health company is tough.
Our Facebook ads and online store kept being shut down for using the word “vagina” and talking about intimate health, and at the time, womxn didn’t have knowledge of how probiotics could be used to treat this type of infection.
Now that I was in the Bay Area though, my cofounder and I plunged headlong into the Silicon Valley hustle. We were constantly networking and kept meeting other womxn’s health entrepreneurs who were having the same challenges we were. They had trouble with advertising, their sites were getting shut down, and their products weren’t familiar to their target audiences.
Shortly after I recognized our shared challenges, I started organizing events and panels for womxn’s health groups and became the Bay Area Ambassador for Women of Wearables. It didn’t take long for me to realize that the probiotic startup was now holding me back from the bigger opportunity of creating a community that could find solutions for these wider industry challenges we were all facing. When capital for the probiotic venture ran out, I knew it was time to pivot and in early 2018, FemTech Collective was born.
How does your work help give people the tools to achieve reproductive well-being?
FemTech Collective is a central place where people who want to advance the womxn’s health industry can come together and find resources suited for their company. We host networking and informational events and we’re also a resource hub for people to find out what’s going on in the industry.
How would you define success for your company and for the fem tech space, more generally?
I believe that FemTech Collective is successful in providing a central place for FemTech leaders to come together and connect. Over the past 2 years, that has been my main focus, and now as I look towards 2021, I would like to see FemTech Collective equip the leaders in this space with the tools they need to make an even bigger impact and drive thoughtful innovation in the FemTech space. By thoughtful innovation, I mean products and services that are sustainable, safe, affordable, and accessible to those who need them most. I also think that it is essential to support under-represented leaders around the world from all backgrounds and ensure they have the resources they need to thrive, especially Black womxn and POC.
How do you see the FemTech space changing in the next 5 years? What are you looking forward to?
In the next 5 years, I think we will see interest from major investment firms grow in the FemTech sector. I would also like to see your average woman outside of the startup world begin to follow the FemTech movement and understand the importance of supporting FemTech startups that reflect their values. With greater investment and interest in FemTech innovation, I think we’ll see areas that are currently underserved gain attention globally, such as menopause, sexual wellness, and mental health. I hope we’ll also see interest in more preventative medicine across the board, not only in FemTech, but in healthcare in general.
What advice would you give other womxn looking to get into FemTech?
I would tell anyone looking to get into FemTech to really know their reason why. Innovating for womxn’s health is still tough but knowing your reason why will help you persevere. I would also tell them to find a community of their peers and find ways to support each right away. Lastly, I would say to understand your target audience. Don’t operate on assumptions when it comes to womxn as consumers, do your own research and find out what your customer really wants and needs.