Nicole Junkermann on How Elvie's Femtech Products Are Transforming Women's Health

elvie_image_nicole_junkermann_presents.jpg

“There are so many issues of womanhood that can be improved by technology.”

This confident statement comes from Dr Tania Boler, the co-founder of Elvie. This femtech company is determined to make a difference to women’s lives. Elvie has already launched two ground-breaking products: an app-linked pelvic floor trainer and a new style of wearable breast pump.

Together with tech entrepreneur Alexander Asseily, Boler has been redefining the world of women’s health products. By introducing popular smart technologies, Elvie is offering women convenient and leading-edge alternatives to traditional solutions.

NJF Capital supports this bold British business, with founder Nicole Junkermann describing Elvie as “introducing incredible new energy into a notoriously difficult field”.

Elvie is one of the companies at the forefront of this new approach to the old ‘femcare’ sector. What is the current women’s health climate, and how is Elvie, along with strategists like NJF Capital, helping to shape this new landscape? 

The femtech revolution

Femtech is now a $200 billion industry. Women’s health issues such as breastfeeding and the importance of pelvic floor exercises are now not just out in the open – they’ve become smart.

London-based Elvie is creating innovative tech specifically for women. Boler, who has a PhD in Sexual Reproductive Health, combines her medical knowledge with personal experience. When she became a mother herself, she noticed that while there were plenty of tech solutions for babies, there were few to help mums.

Elvie’s pioneering products aren’t just for new mothers. Their smart pelvic floor trainer benefits any woman who suffers from incontinence, not just post-baby leakage. With an estimated 40% of British women experiencing bladder problems at some point, this is a considerable market.

Back to the floor with Junkermann

Elvie’s debut product is the pelvic floor trainer. Childbirth, trauma, the menopause and simply getting older can affect the hammock-like pelvic floor muscle. The slackening of this muscle prevents it from acting as the gatekeeper for the bladder.

Pelvic floor problems are traditionally managed by squeezing exercises, incontinence pads and simply by avoiding high-impact activities like jogging. It’s thought that women in the UK spend around £178 million each year on managing bladder issues.

NICE - The National Institute For Healthcare and Excellence - recommends pelvic floor exercises as the best approach for most people, and in 70% of cases, this should make a real difference. However, as anyone who’s ever tried pelvic floor squeezes will tell you, it’s hard to stick with a repetitive exercise programme.

Boler’s solution? Make those pelvic floor exercises less boring. Researching her own post-childbirth weakness, Boler came up with – and won a government innovation grant for – a brand new solution.

Like the now-ubiquitous fitness trackers, the Elvie trainer pits its users against themselves, setting pelvic exercise goals and targets to meet. Pelvic squeezes are the new 10,000 steps.

Nicole Junkermann sees this ability to connect with how modern women use apps as a huge advantage. “They have a real talent for harnessing popular tech,” she says.

The Elvie pelvic floor trainer fits neatly like a tampon. It then communicates with an app via Bluetooth. Users can track their progress, measure their pelvic strength and check that they’re exercising correctly. 

“This is just the kind of company NJF Capital wants to help grow,” says Junkermann. “Their combination of medical credibility and creativity has so much potential.” And it doesn’t stop there…

Express yourself

Last year, Boler and Asseily turned their attention to another, sometimes uncomfortable, issue for many women: breast pumps. Specifically, the difficult task of expressing milk outside the home.

The once-clunky breast pump is now enhanced with smart technology to provide real-time data – and a more comfortable and positive experience for the user.

Described as the first truly wearable breast pump, the egg-shaped Elvie Pump slips into a nursing bra, with no wires or tubes needed. This discreet design, combined with a quieter motor, is designed for on-the-go expressing. Working mums can express breast milk with greater ease and discretion. Like the trainer, it connects wirelessly to an app. This gives real-time pumping info and keeps track of each breast’s production stats.

American women are now set to benefit from Elvie’s innovative tech. The Elvie Pump is currently on sale in over 250 Target stores in 40 US states, as well as Buy Baby Buy outlets. The Elvie Pump is also available to potentially thousands of American mothers through Affordable Care, thanks to Elvie’s partnership with Aeroflow Breastpumps. 

US journalist and nursing mother Joan E Solsman put the Elvie Pump through its paces both in the office and while she was on the move. She describes it as “emancipating” for expressing while travelling. “It gave me some of my freedom and a lot of my dignity back,” she writes.

Nicole Junkermann follows the Elvie Pump’s global expansion with great interest – and pride. “It’s a genuine pleasure for NJF Capital to be involved with a product that will make such a difference, every single day, to so many of us working mothers.”

Products for all life stages

What’s next for Elvie and the femtech sector? With two successful products on the market, Boler and Asseily continue to raise funds to invest in R&D for future lines. Elvie plans to expand its range to create products for women at every stage of their lives. As such, the company is most definitely scalable, providing great opportunities for growth.

As Junkermann says: “Speaking as a young mother myself, Femtech is no longer niche – and it’s a real investment area as people wake up to the fact that this is a huge market.”

It’s also tapped into a bigger dialogue of women’s issues, including public nursing. Boler ran the Mother’s Day #freethefeed campaign, which saw her fly five giant inflatable breasts above London to raise breastfeeding awareness. 

As Boler told TechCrunch: “When you create a new category, you have to educate the market and you have to change the conversation.”

ElvieLuciano Caruso