Paris-based startup megacampus Station F is announcing a new program for early-stage startups looking for opportunities to join the Station F community — the FemTech Program. With this new program, the Station F team wants to put a spotlight on femtech startups and make it easier to start a femtech startup.
Station F is a massive building that used to be a rail freight depot. It has been completely renovated and it now acts as a flagship entity for the tech community in France. In addition to VC firms and public administrations, the startup campus has partnered with companies and universities so that they can run their own incubator at Station F.
And Station F also has its own programs operated by the Station F team. There’s the Fighters Program designed specifically for entrepreneurs coming from underprivileged backgrounds. And there’s the Founders Program for companies that are just getting started.
With the FemTech Program, Station F is adding a third in-house program. As the name suggests, the startup campus is looking for companies working on female health, women's sexual health and more.
“When we looked at the topic, we thought it was both an opportunity and that startups urgently needed some help,” Station F director Roxanne Varza told me. “It’s still a little-known category, it’s still a taboo subject.”
While there are huge market opportunities when you build a femtech startup, entrepreneurs quickly realize that they have to overcome two obstacles. First, people in the tech ecosystem — and investors in particular — are still mostly men. They tend to overlook female-focused products and services.
Second, when VC firms raise money from bigger funds, limited partners usually have a set of vice clauses in their investment contracts. It means that most VC firms can’t invest in companies related to sex, drugs, alcohol, etc.
“Startups tell us about their problems. We would like to do some lobbying for those startups,” Varza told me. “The idea is really to create a community first. That was the major pain point, making sure that those startups can get together.”
Station F will also provide workshops, facilitate introductions with potential partners in the tech community at large and provide office hours. For instance, the founders of Clue and Ava will participate in upcoming workshops.
During the first half of 2021, Station F already selected a handful of femtech startups to try out its program. Startups included Intimately, TalQ, Puissante and Sonio. Applications for the first official batch start today on Station F’s website and will remain open for a month.
For reference, here’s the full list of startups that participated in the unannounced batch:
Intimately - Intimately sells lingerie for women with disabilities
Founded by Emma Butler
Guud - Guud offers support and products to women who want to improve their menstrual cycle and fertility
Founded by Morgane Leten & Jan Deruyck
Puissante - Sextoy brand to demystify masturbation and sexuality.
Founded by Marie Comacle
My S Life - My S Life is a digital companion to support women's daily on their gynecologist and sexual health
Founded by Juliette Mauro
talm - talm is a responsible skincare brand that aims to support women before, during and after pregnancy.
Founded by Kenza Keller
TalQ - TalQ Univers wants to free speech about sexuality. For 72% of French people aged 18 to 34, sexuality is a taboo subject.
Founded by Manon Cauchoix & Camille Di Vincenzo
PERLA Health - PERLA Health is on a mission to redesign PCOS care and diagnostics
Founded by Kathrin Folkendt & Janine Kopp
Sonio - Sonio is an AI software for fetal ultrasound, helping practitioners analyse and diagnose congenital malformations
Founded by Cécile Brosset & Rémi Besson