How to Raise Money for Your Women’s Health or FemTech Startup in 2024

Despite significant growth in women’s health investment, startups in the women’s health and FemTech sectors still face substantial barriers to entry and growth. SiS sat down with successful startup innovator Sabrina Johnson,President & CEO of Daré Bioscience, lawyer Sophie McGrath, Partner at Goodwin Law and Triin Linamagi, a leading investor and Founding Partner at Sie Ventures, to find out how to navigate these challenges. 

The Successful Startups Journey

Sabrina Johnson - President and CEO of Daré Bioscience
Sabrina Johnson | President & CEO of Daré Bioscience

Q: In a nutshell, what challenge is Daré solving?  

Sabrina: We focus on significant unmet needs such as hormone-free contraception, female sexual arousal disorder, and non-oral combination hormone therapy. These areas demand new solutions.  

Q: What initial challenges did you face when setting up Daré?  

Sabrina: Educating investors about women’s health issues and market opportunities was the biggest challenge. Initial investors believed in us as a management team, which helped establish the company.  

Q: What hurdles did you face in securing investment?  

Sabrina: Given the lack of historical data on women’s health investments, securing traditional venture capital was challenging. We opted for a reverse merger, providing us with $10 million to advance our portfolio.  

Q: Lessons for those starting their women’s health journey?  

Sabrina: Tenacity is essential. Each investor meeting is an opportunity to increase awareness about unmet needs and market potential.  

Q: Is there a culture problem or biases in the investor community?  

Sabrina: It’s more about a lack of awareness than bias. Educating the investment community on the social and financial returns of investing in women’s health is crucial.  

Q: How important is partnering with the right people for a startup?  

Sabrina: Surrounding yourself with credible advisors and aligned investors is critical. Ensuring shared vision and mutual respect with investors is essential.  

Lessons from the Lawyer 

Sophie McGrath: +44(0) 20 7447 4821 | 
Sophie McGrath | Partner at Goodwin Law 

Q: Tell us about your background and what led you to a career in life sciences and women’s health.   

Sophie: I come from a medical family and as a result was naturally inclined towards life sciences law. This field blends my legal expertise with my interest in medical advancements.   

Q: Could you explain the relationship between a startup and a law firm?   

Sophie: A good startup lawyer brings sector knowledge, pragmatism, and cost sensitivity. At Goodwin, we understand and have the capacity to support the journey from startup to global business.

Q: What commercial challenges might an entrepreneur face, and how can a law firm help?   

Sophie: Challenges include capital, people, and technology. Ensuring alignment of incentives for people and protecting technology with strong IP strategies are key. A law firm can help navigate these hurdles.   

Q: When should a startup speak to a law firm like Goodwin?   

Sophie: Startups should speak to us early. We offer various fee structures to accommodate early-stage companies and provide valuable guidance for future growth.   

Q: Hopes for commercial growth in women’s health?   

Sophie: I hope the conversation about women’s health expands beyond fertility to include conditions like cardiac disease and dementia, where women are affected differently. This can shift perception from niche to critical sector.  

Bringing Passion to Investing  

Triin Linamagi | Founding Partner at SIE Ventures

Q: Tell us about yourself and why you got into women’s health.  

Triin: My personal mission to support women’s health led me to focus on this underserved market. While there are still significant gaps in funding and research, I can see a huge commercial opportunity.  

Q: How does SIE Ventures support startups?  

Triin: We support startups through Catalyst Programs, FounderCommunity, and Syndicate Investments, providing access to capital, investor networks, and support.  

Q: Common mistakes founders make when raising investment?  

Triin: Mistakes include targeting the wrong investors and lacking a strong narrative and long-term vision. Understanding the venture capitalist’s mindset is crucial.  

Q: Challenges for the women’s health sector?  

Triin: Key challenges include access to capital, economic slowdown, insufficient R&D funding, and lack of public support. Raising capital remains imbalanced, with female-founded startups raising less on average.  

Q: Importance of legal advice when raising investment or entering partnerships?  

Triin: Legal advice is crucial, especially for IP-heavy businesses and large contracts.Overlooking legal advice can be costly in the long run.  

Q: Hopes for women’s health over the next five years?  

Triin: I hope to see more funding for women’s health companies, improving health outcomes for women and boosting economic participation. More healthcare funds focusing on women’s health and healthcare in general would be a significant advancement.  

So what can we take from these interviews?

BothSabrina (Daré) and Sophie (Goodwin) emphasise the critical role of legal advice and strategic partnerships. Sabrina highlights the importance of credible advisors and aligned investors, while Sophie underscores the value of engaging a law firm early to protect IP and align team incentives.  


Understanding the Investor Landscape  

Triin and Sabrina offer similar views on understanding the investor landscape. Triin points out the importance of targeting the right investors and building a strong narrative, while Sabrina stresses tenacity and continuous investor education.  


Challenges in Securing Investment  

All three leaders acknowledge the challenges in securing investment but offer different solutions. There are also creative approaches like reverse mergers, so long as we have the right legal advice and we know when and from whom to raise funds, there are a range of different ways to secure the investment you need.  


Future of Women’s Health  

Each leader envisions a broader recognition and investment in women’s health. Sophie hopes for a shift in perception, Triin anticipates more funding and specialised healthcare funds, and Sabrina aims to increase awareness and secure substantial investments.  

Navigating the women’s health startup landscape requires tenacity, strategic legal advice, and an understanding of the investor mindset. Insights from Sabrina, Sophie, and Triin offer a comprehensive guide for startups aiming to breakthrough barriers and achieve commercial success. By aligning with the right partners, educating investors, and continuously innovating, women’s health and FemTech startups can pave the way for a brighter future in women’s health.  


You can meet Sabrina, Sophie and Triin at our series of global summits, join the waitlist here.