As the FemTech market continues to rise, startup founder Dr. Pinkey Patel shares her outlook on emerging tech solutions like her own for maternal health.
Although FemTech is a relatively new term, more and more transformative tech-driven solutions are being created to create quality health outcomes for female patients and consumers globally. According to a 2022 report by McKinsey, the industry is estimated to have a market size between $500M to $1B and that’s just the beginning. Reportlinker.com estimates that the global FemTech market size will reach over $10B in the next 5 years. These technologies address a range of health issues including maternal health, menstrual health, pelvic and sexual health, oncology, fertility, contraception, and several others. Many of these new technologies are focused on creating consumer-driven products. Others, including Myri Health (as in my recovery, my rehab, etc.), are leveraging both B2C and B2B opportunities to get the technology in the hands of larger audiences of consumers.
Among those who understand maternal health, including Dr. Pinkey Patel, founder and CEO of Myri Health, postpartum is an incredibly difficult time for new mothers. Without proper care, many mothers feel neglected. The bulk of the attention during this time shifts from the mother to the child. While this makes sense, as newborns are infamously needy, it often leaves the mothers wondering, “what about me?”
Q&A with Dr. Pinkey Patel
As the recently hired Venture Executive at Cortado Ventures and a former founder myself, I spoke with Dr. Patel, who felt the need to fill this gap from her own experience. She is a mother of two, a clinical pharmacist, and a certified personal trainer focusing on pre/post-natal corrective exercise, so this topic is right in the center of her everyday life. As such, she knows as well as any mother what the lives of new mothers look like. As she puts it, the resources and support a mother has during pregnancy versus after “felt like falling off a cliff.” Myri Health, which received Oklahoma Venture Forum’s 2022 Most Promising New Ventures award, seeks to remedy that lack of attention to these women by providing a community of fellow postpartum mothers going through these same struggles, as well as tools to cope and recover.
Cody Merrill: Dr. Patel, where did you identify the need to create Myri?
Pinkey Patel: The first literal gap in care comes in the form of the standard six-week gap between delivery and the first postpartum follow up visit. I learned this firsthand. During this time the body is going through a massive amount of readjustment back to its original state: shifting of internal organs, shrinking of muscles and skin, healing of tears, shifting hormone levels, mental changes, and so on. At present, mothers are more or less expected to handle that themselves while also providing constant care for their newborns. Our bodies are trying to heal, while they are largely no longer their own. Then we are expected to be all clear and back to normal after one short doctor visit. It’s certainly easy to understand how mothers could feel abandoned during these early weeks and months after childbirth.
CM: Myri Health is an evidence-based postpartum rehab app with delivery-based time released resources for new moms. What did you set out to achieve with your startup?
PP: Myri Health was developed with mothers in mind to provide the best resources available to new mothers. One of the greatest resources is fellow mothers encountering the same struggles. These are often universal issues but also very private and personal. With that in mind, Myri provides an anonymous forum within the app to discuss specific issues and hear from others encountering them. In addition to the community aspect, there are specific tools such as tracking of various health changes, data, articles and information all compiled in one place to provide more concrete science-backed solutions to the myriad of issues mothers may encounter. Myri also acknowledges that postpartum doesn’t stop when mothers are cleared to return to work and expected to move on, it lasts forever in many ways. So, this platform can continue to be a resource for mothers long after childbirth.
CM: With the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe V. Wade, what type of impact do you believe that will have on maternal health and FemTech?
PP: Mother’s deserve access to postpartum care and provider’s deserve tools to help their patients. With changes occurring in laws, insurance and more, having tools that educate and empower patients is imperative to bridge the gaps in healthcare.
CM: What makes Myri Health stand out with its useful tools for expecting and new mothers?
PP: The app is free to download and includes access to the community platform features and diaper logging (to better understand and track the health of the child). Those base features are a foot in the door, and exceptional tools for mothers. It was important to me that these features be free so that it is accessible to all mothers and help mitigate the isolation these mothers often feel. It was recently reported that Medicare expansion resulted in a 17% decline in postpartum hospitalizations. Accessibility is one of the biggest barriers for mothers and I refuse to let money be a barrier for the essentials that Myri Health offers to our users.
The base features may be enough for some mothers but will likely just scratch the surface of the resources they need, especially once they get a glimpse of what is available to them. The monetization then comes into play through various length and affordable paid subscription options that grant access to the more in-depth rehab and recovery solutions and evidence-based resources. Additional monetization comes through focused ad revenue relevant to new mothers.
CM: Your personal and Myri Health’s social media goes beyond the app in authentic storytelling the real everyday experiences for mothers. What’s your motivation behind this?
PP: On top of trying to make new mothers’ lives easier, I created Myri with the intention of destigmatizing and normalizing conversations that haven’t been happening and “keep society from being able to thrive.” When our users understand that I and many other mothers like them “get it,” it creates a deeper sense of trust that mothers need as they are bombarded with all of the advice in the world from our own mothers, aunties, sisters, friends and healthcare providers.
CM: How has Cortado Ventures and other VC investments impacted you so far?
PP: Knowing that female founders only receive about 2% of venture capital funding, and an even smaller percentage to first generation women of color, the validation of having Cortado’s backing meant a lot for my company and was an encouraging hurdle to clear in my startup journey. I never thought that my first large investment would come from within Oklahoma and having grown up in Oklahoma, it means that much more. Even at an early stage, Cortado is effectively investing in me as a founder, which was even further validation of myself and our mission with Myri Health. This has provided further conviction that what we are doing is worth pursuing, and others see that as well.
With growing opportunities to invest in FemTech, Cortado is proud to invest in companies like Myri Health and Watkins Conti Products. Our firm continues to seek out ambitious, Midcontinent startups to invest in and we encourage our VC peers to seek more female-led startups that are innovating FemTech and disrupting other industries.
At Cortado Ventures, we’re backing a new generation of economic prosperity in the Midcontinent by investing in pre-seed and seed startups with a focus on energy, logistics, life sciences, and the future of work. If you are a Midcontinent startup or investor, contact us to learn more.