Women’s sexual health is more than a huge (often untapped) market with outsized impacts, it’s also a huge investment opportunity. Learn more about this sector and its many verticals from Carli Sapir, Founding Partner at Amboy Street Ventures, who is sharing with Rachel and Dr. Dweck the ins and outs of raising capital for “femtech” and related startups on this episode of Busine$$ of the V. It may still be a challenge to pitch products and platforms associated with women’s sexuality and pleasure, for instance, but entrepreneurs – mostly women – are out there cracking open space for candid conversation, education and very real financial returns.
Carli explains the focus of Amboy Street Ventures as well as its philosophy, which includes a mandate that at least 70% of its investment portfolio go towards female-founded and/or led companies. They’re looking to address overlooked or under-served target markets and fill gaps in areas such as LGBTQ and gender-affirming care, abortion and contraception access and women’s sexual pleasure. Innovations on the horizon not only promise huge profitability but also transformational impacts – such as the introduction of Contraline, an implantable, reversible form of male birth control now under FDA trial and Go Aunt Flow, a free dispenser of pads and tampons in public places. Women’s sexual health and pleasure is big business, and ripe for disruption. “Hopefully we’ll live long enough to see the end of people using the expression ‘Women’s health is niche,’ ” sums up Rachel. “Then we will know that we’ve made some impact on the planet!” The momentum in this space is palpable – and also undeniable.
Watch The Interview with Carli Sapir of Amboy Street Ventures
Carli transitioned from an engineering background into private equity
- While building the fund Carli partnered with Healthy Pleasure Group, an organization that helps startups with marketing, branding and innovation.
There are Six Key Verticals in Which Amboy Street Invests:
- “Saturated” Verticals: fertility/maternal health, menstruation, menopause
- “Barren” (or less saturated) Verticals: LGBTQ health and gender-affirming care, abortion access and contraception, sexual health/pleasure.
Top Issues Dr. Dweck’s Patients Make Appointments to Address:
- No. 1 is basic annual preventative health.
- Menopausal symptoms.
- Sexual health issues (such as painful intercourse or orgasm issues).
Amboy Street Ventures & The Kinds of Companies They’re Creating:
- The portfolio is comprised primarily of female-led companies.
- Most companies are the result of an entrepreneurial woman filling a gap or market niche that they’ve encountered personally.
- Sex education is a key component and value for entrepreneurs in the space.
What About Male Contraception
- Amboy Street has invested in Contraline, an implantable form of male contraception that is currently undergoing FDA trials. There are also gels and pill options under development.
- Some 4 million men a year in the U.S. undergo vasectomies at a cost of $1,000 per procedure. Carli foresees a revenue stream of $1 billion annually if even a quarter of those men opt for a less permanent, less invasive option (like Contraline).
- Male contraception offers women an alternative to female hormonal contraception that isn’t a great fit for a certain population of women for a variety of reasons. Ditto tubal ligation, which requires women to undergo general anesthesia.
The Vision Behind Partnering with Healthy Pleasure Group:
- Leveraging the company’s in-house startup knowledge base.
- Bespoke marketing plans and collateral.
- Credentialed medical expertise among the ranks of advisors.
- An overall umbrella of support for product development and promotion for Amboy Street investments.
Amboy Street Ventures is finding fertile ground (pun intended) among family funds interested in unique market opportunities. Institutional investors are less attractive because of constraining mandates such as so-called “vice clauses” and religiously-based restrictions on products related to contraception or abortion.
Carli’s Best Advice for FemTech Startups:
- Amboy Street welcomes candor, but many in the broader VC audience need a point of entry to get comfortable with women’s health and sexual pleasure. Try deploying a wellness or lifestyle type of positioning.
- Get your marketing research in order; be ready to produce numbers for potential market size and quality of life/productivity impacts!
- Consider using Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs), shell companies whose only purpose is to invest in a single deal, which in Carli’s experience smooths due diligence and fast tracks access to funding.
The day is coming when investors will finally figure out that women’s health and sexuality are definitively NOT a niche market. It’s big, big business!
About Carli Sapir, Amboy Street Ventures
Carli is a Founding Partner of Amboy Street Ventures and leads the Investment Team. She is also the Founder of the Female Founded Club (FFC), a global platform that introduces VC investors to high-quality female founded startups. Carli has an affinity for startups in the Sexual Health & Women’s Health Technology (SH&WHT) landscape due to personal health experiences. While running the FFC, she recognized that the lack of venture capital flowing to the SH&WHT market is stunting the growth of startups that tackle significant health problems for all genders. Carli founded Amboy Street Ventures to initiate a shift in the funding landscape that, until now, dictated the innovation in the SH&WHT market. Carli has a background in Private Equity and Engineering.