June 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 Jill Angelo, CEO of Gennev.
What inspired you to start/lead your company?
I come from 20 years in the tech industry. I love tech! But increasingly I became passionate about improving the lives of women and girls. As I became more involved with that work, I knew if I ever broke away from my corporate career that’s the space I would enter.
During a three-month sabbatical to recharge, a standard practice in the tech industry, I met a woman passionate about improving the lives of women with menopause. Through her I learned how underserved these women are; they so often suffer in silence. What I learned from her agreed with what I learned from other women in senior positions in the tech industry who had concerns about their changing health as they aged.
My interests and these experiences dovetailed, and I started Gennev to help women take control of their lives as they started another phase.
How does your work help give people the tools to achieve reproductive well-being?
We need community in every part of our lives to know what we’re going through is normal. Women in particular are masters of thinking that we’re doing things wrong and suffering in silence because of a perceived sense of shame that we can’t do it all.
When you think about essentials of what women need, they need to know this is a normal transition, they need to know they’re not going crazy, and they need to know they have a community of women to support them who are going through similar experiences. They also need the access to the right tools, products, and health care providers. At Gennev we try to have a mix of all of that to serve women.
How would you define success for your company and for the FemTech space, more generally?
For FemTech I think that normalizing women’s health would equal success. Whenever we have a shift, such as getting our period, wanting a baby, having a baby, entering menopause, etc., women tend to think that what they’re experiencing is different from everyone else. To succeed we must take the pain and fear out of women’s health. Success would remove stereotypes and focus on destigmatizing experiences. Little by little that’s starting to happen!
For Gennev, normalizing experiences, especially in the second half of life is also important. But more specifically we want to engage 1 million women in 2020.
How do you see the FemTech space changing in the next 5 years? What are you looking forward to?
Two things encourage me about the future. Number one, COVID-19 is going to shift behaviors to encourage doing things remotely and remote health care is primed to help women with menopause. You can reach so many more women with adequate health care through telehealth. Not that many providers are trained in menopause care and this will allow those that are to reach the women that are experiencing it. Excitingly, that’s near term! We’re already seeing it start to happen.
In the next 5 years one thing we’re really focused on is creating ‘What to expect when you’re expecting menopause.’ Unlike childbirth where every woman goes through broadly the same experience, that’s not true with menopause. There’s no one-size-fits-all. To create this guide we have free assessment on our website which in under 10 minutes helps women to know if they’re experiencing menopause and also gives us the data to build a tool for future women to understand what’s coming up. Minimizing uncertainty is so often half the battle.
What advice what you give other womxn looking to get into FemTech?
First and foremost, if you’re going to get into FemTech talk to your audience! You can make a lot of assumptions and you see this with creators who don’t talk daily with their audiences. Women are complex and FemTech is a tough space because there’s a lack of precedence. Getting out to talk to your customers/patients is job number one.
Be ready to be resilience in this space. It’s hard to figure out the right way. We know at Gennev that menopause is a huge market. We know that there are 38 million women out there right now with menopause and 2 million more join them every year. We hear anecdotes and see data that women suffer and want help. But how do you change behavior? How do you tell women where to go to get the right resources? How do you teach women that they don’t need to just wait it out?
Changing behavior is hard. We must convince women to prioritize themselves and their health. You need to stick with it and remember there’s no perfect path to take like a retail store might, but it’s worth it!
A final thought: the term of the essential worker has come up during the COVID-19 crisis. In many cases we’re seeing the role of women in their households become 10x harder than it was just a few weeks ago. In addition to needing to work from home or going to work, women are teaching their children and making more meals and cleaning the house. Their role is amplified.
We need places of hope. We need to reach out and listen to women more than ever. It was important before and it’s more important today and tomorrow. We must all ask ourselves how we can become a safe place and a place of hope for women.