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TikTok, tagine powder and femtech

20 Dec 2022 Reading time: 3 mins

As part of our mission to invest in the people, ideas, and industries that will change the world, Octopus is investing in companies that are revitalising healthcare. We spoke to some inspiring female founders with businesses in the rapidly growing market of female health technology or ‘femtech’. Their respective ventures, Elvie and luna, have made history in the femtech sector and are shaping the future of health by breaking taboos and empowering women with exceptional technology.

24.3 million views.

No, it’s not Messi’s best goals of all time, another cringeworthy moment from British politics, or what claims to be the best banana bread recipe of all time.

‘Lime juice and tagine powder stops your period’. A TikTok with 24.3 million views.

It first raises the question of how on earth someone thought to experiment with such strange ingredients.

But it also shows two important things.

The enormous demand for support and advice with female health issues. And the rise of harmful misinformation circulating online due to a lack of effective support on taboo issues.

Two of our portfolio companies, Elvie and luna, are striving to quash taboos and empower women with pioneering technology that provides solutions to pain points old and new.

Tackling taboos

Using technology to break taboos and ensure generations of females don’t face the same adversities as those before, is luna. The UK’s first teen health and wellbeing app that’s taking a next-gen approach to the way girls and non-binary teens experience adolescence.1

Until now, young people have relied on lessons at school and family members to help them get to grips with the transition through puberty. But the luna team found that students rated school education on teen-health topics, just three out ten2. And many young people feel the curriculum hasn’t evolved to reflect the environment young people are growing up in. So to fill in the gaps, 40% are taking to TikTok or Instagram as their primary search engines when looking for information or answers to their questions.[3

On the one hand, it’s positive that social media platforms are becoming a safe space for people to have conversations about topics considered taboo. But it can also be a hub of misinformation from unverified sources.

This is where luna comes in. It’s a fun, engaging and safe space where teens can learn about their health, and get medically backed answers to their questions.

Just starting out on their journey, the luna team have successfully launched the first app of its kind in the UK market. We’re excited to see them disrupt this area of healthtech and help younger generations build good habits for looking after their wellbeing. The app is available to download for free on Google Play and App stores.

Firsts in femtech

When asked what motivates her to break stigmas around women’s health, Tania Boler, founder of Elvie, explained that her childhood was shrouded by taboo health issues and that the experience shaped her. 

“If we’re open about what makes us human, we can address the shadows and break taboos, be it through technology or education. The potential for positive change and reduction in suffering is so huge”.

Tania created Elvie to shine a light on neglected issues in women’s health and empower them through radical, female-first technology. Elvie has revolutionised what were once uncomfortable, cumbersome, painful and embarrassing medical equipment, and created elegant solutions in the form of the world’s smallest, most slimline all-in-bra breast pump4 and a smart pelvic floor trainer.

Octopus Ventures initial investment in Elvie not only enabled the company to develop the world’s first ultra-quiet breast pump5] but also achieve faster growth, and access the US market. It’s since become a market leader in breastfeeding in the UK and US, and in 2021, raised $80 million in the largest femtech fundraise ever.6

“Where are there opportunities to build billion-dollar businesses and help improve the lives of people all over the world? Healthcare is the sector,” says Will Gibbs from Octopus Ventures.

Venture investing is high risk. Company examples are for illustrative purposes only and are not an investment recommendation.

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Find out more about Elvie and luna, and what Octopus is doing to revitalise healthcare.


2 Weareluna internal research from interviewing 600 9-16 year olds