In order to support other women’s healthcare entrepreneurs in the heartland, FemHealth Founders (FHF), a female-led group in Northwest Arkansas, is excited to conduct its first eight-week trial accelerator programme.
The three founders realised they had similar problems with women’s entrepreneurship and female healthcare when they met through accelerator programmes and business ties in Northwest Arkansas. FHF has established objectives for women to use startup firms to address their personal medical issues.
For the eight-week accelerator that starts in the spring of 2023, FHF is now taking applications. They will select five female-led cohorts to engage in, and each will be given a $10,000 Walton Family Foundation grant that cannot be diluted.
Co-founders Natalie Shew, Elizabeth Prenger, and April Roy make up the FHF team. In a male-dominated industry, they manage their businesses while feeling linked since they are all mothers.
The managing principal of the company and the creator of the consulting firm 3P Creative, Shew, stated, “We came together to build our own accelerator programmes. “Femtech can be a little misleading because we’re not simply tech platforms, so we’re coining the new term ‘femhealth.'”
FemHealth refers to anything that specifically, solely, or otherwise impacts women’s access to healthcare. We made something that we wished we had access to, but we have never seen. We’re starting with this pilot accelerator programme because it will allow us to get to know a select set of female founders who are wanting to scale and access finance for an early-stage idea or firm.
Prenger is in charge of marketing and PR for the startup. Additionally, she is the creator and CBO of Prose Creative, a firm that specialises in brand messaging, copywriting, editing, and creative writing.
She recalled, “About a year ago, I was participating in an accelerator programme for a postpartum recovery product idea that I had. Prenger claimed that many of the subject area experts were male and had never gone through childbirth.
“I kept hitting irritating roadblocks. A man with an experience in medical devices served as my tutor, Prenger recalled. But he took the matter quite seriously. He found it frustrating that so many male-made inventions for female use.
Prenger claimed that the mentor referred her to Roy, the owner of the sole femtech business in the state, femPAQ Inc. In 2018, she produced emergency menstrual kits.
Roy said, “We take the ‘oops’ out of unexpected periods.
She was eventually put in touch with her FHF entrepreneurs after winning the accelerator. As a participant in the Waltons’ sales challenge, I came for a boot camp. We came together with energy. Since we first gathered and agreed to do this, it has been a year. We all met because we were running our own businesses while being moms.
The creators met once every several weeks while they started to develop FHF. We made the decision to handle our own problem-solving, Shew stated. As female business owners, “we really wanted to feel like there is a place tailored for us.”
The FHF pilot accelerator programme is intended for early-stage, female-led startups that aim to address the healthcare needs of women. For instance, present healthcare solutions pay little attention to menstruation, maternal, postpartum, and other health issues. They are working together with StitchCrew, an Oklahoma City-based business accelerator run by women.
Shew described the startup’s financial strategy as “taking a scale approach,” employing a grant from the Walton Family Foundation and a relationship with StitchCrew. “StitchCrew has the game plan for this because they are our fiscal sponsor. In order to complete this first pilot accelerator, our nonprofit’s objective is to get further funding of about $200,000 in the first quarter of 2023.
FHF intends to increase the number of cohorts and female founders in the programme.
We want to make sure that we have extensive ties all over the world, not just in the Midwest, Shew said. To get this going will require resources and money, but we want to be this connector.
On September 27, a roundtable discussion titled “Funding for Founders” held at The Collaborative in Bentonville contributed to the ongoing breakdown of the startup’s financing strategy.
Prenger remarked, “We had a wonderful lineup of speakers.” The goal was to demystify the fundraising process and examine the numerous funding options available to founders rather than merely relying solely on venture capital.
FHF seeks to collaborate with businesses engaged in maternal health. In Arkansas, maternal health outcomes and pregnancy-related fatalities rank us in the bottom three, according to Shew. “We want to see grassroots movements and initiatives emerge that are not merely nonprofit; we want to see entrepreneurs in those communities start enterprises that will financially enable them to address issues facing other women.”
Less than 1% of the healthcare pipeline, according to Shew, is built around women’s health issues.
Although there is a lot of data available, it hasn’t been gathered in one place, she added. “Another goal we want to achieve is collecting more information on women’s health. Cardiac problems are one instance. According to established studies, when a cardiac episode occurs, women experience different symptoms than males. Sadly, there is very little study.
By 2026, FSF wants to have 50 healthcare enterprises with female CEOs.
Prenger remarked, “We discussed that metric. “We initially believed there was no way. We became aware of a huge interest and potential gap as we spoke with more players involved in the startup and entrepreneurial environment. An inducement to work here, in my opinion, is being in Northwest Arkansas in such a scorching-hot entrepreneurial environment.
I don’t know if we can accomplish that elsewhere if we can’t do it here in the Midwest, in the backyard of Fortune 500 businesses with plenty of finance and retail prospects.
We have a great chance to set the standard for how we approach and care for women’s health, according to Roy. “I’m hopeful we’ll be able to spread that around the country after we achieve that in the heartland. Consider what we can accomplish after we have 50 companies. I predict a sizable number of female applicants for the accelerator… I’m thrilled to see that figure because I believe few people are aware of the existence of female-led businesses. They were unaware that I was here.