From about 13 thousand startups registered at the database of ABStartups (Brazilian Startups Association), only 12.6% of them – around 1,638 companies – were founded by women. Also according to data provided by ABStartups to LABS, 7.1% (923 companies) have the same number of men and women in the founding board; and a timid 2.4% (around 312 startups) have more women than men on the founding team of these companies.
Theia, Brazil’s first femtech – the name given to healthtechs focused on women’s health – launched by entrepreneurs Paula Crespi and Flavia Deutsch Gotfryd is part of statistics but wants to be a game-changer for the female-founded firms’ landscape.
Offering a women’s health care network during the maternity journey, the startup’s solution combines technology and face-to-face or virtual consultations with a multidisciplinary network of professionals to support women in the prenatal, childbirth and postpartum phases.
“Health was not made for women, but by men and for men. Especially during pregnancy, which is a more vulnerable moment, you have a lower level of support and we (founders) were experiencing this in our maternity journey,” says Gotfryd, CEO, and co-founder of Theia.
“Paula and I questioned a lot how with technology we could manage to make women’s experience with motherhood different.”
“Most women want a normal delivery,” reports Gotfryd. “But today, in the private system [in Brazil], 86% have caesarean births. WHO recommends that 10% to 15% of deliveries are caesarean births because this has a medical indication to reduce maternal-neonatal morbidity. In the Brazilian private health system, it is 10% to 15% [of deliveries] that are normal, is the opposite. If you consider public and private together, 55% are cesarean,” she explains.
In the product-market fit phase, the femtech pivoted the solution, in November last year, for the B2C model, with a focus on pregnant women and women trying to conceive.
The main solution is a basic package with selected professionals in obstetrics, nutrition, physical preparation, pelvic physiotherapy, among others, and through the Theia methodology, the startup adapts the journey according to the woman’s needs. The value is BRL 549.00 per month, but you can opt for individual consultations, in person or online, paid for use.
The patient also has psychological monitoring and a personal specialist to answer questions and set up a plan for pregnancy, in addition to content prepared by doctors and specialists. “Our approach at Theia is to look at women in an integral and multidisciplinary way,” summarizes Gotfryd.
Paula Crespi, COO and co-founder, says that they decided on the B2C model because “we are at a stage where it is important to have as much contact as possible with whoever is using it, with the need of the woman at the end. Later on, we want to engage in different B2B paths that are already mapped.”
The startup already issues a refundable invoice for health plans and has on the radar agreements with health insurance programs.
The startup’s face-to-face consultation and online monitoring program, which for now only serves in São Paulo, is expected to expand to more cities in the second half of 2021.
To support the entire product roadmap and expansion goals during the year, in 2019, Theia raised a US$1.7 million round with venture capital funds and angel investors. Led by Kaszek Ventures with the support of Maya Capital, from businesswomen Lara Lemann and Mônica Saggioro, the investment had an atypical trait in the sector: “For each male angel investor, we brought a female one,” says the CEO.
The contribution received in 2019 was the largest round in Latin America raised by a startup founded entirely by women that year. “When people congratulate us, we say that we are not happy,” points out Crespi.
“Nubank, in the same year, raised US$400 million,” adds Gotfryd. “Paula and I have a personal mission to bring more women to become entrepreneurs, invest in technology, lead teams. We think it’s a huge gap in the market and we need to change that.”
In addition to the startup, Theia’s founders are also part of the Female Force Latam initiative, an online mentoring platform where women entrepreneurs can turn to a group of mentors to answer specific business questions. Founded by Saggioro and Lemann, from Maya Capital, the project aims to inspire and bring more women to entrepreneurship.