Women-First Consumer Health
This week, we announced two pieces of big news. First, we are sharpening our focus exclusively on women’s health in order to build the world’s first CPG company dedicated to women. Second, we have raised additional capital to support our growth. I want to share some thoughts on why this matters and where we are going.
When we launched Intrinsic, our mission was dedicated to making an impact on consumer health broadly. As we pursued that mission, we came to realize that the best way to achieve this aim is to narrow our focus exclusively on women’s health. This decision came organically for several reasons. First and foremost, women have been holistically overlooked by the healthcare system for centuries, leaving vast unmet needs. Women have also been viewed myopically by the big CPG companies, who have focused mainly on period care and babies. Second, our platform’s ability to acquire and grow brands is magnified through greater focus. Third, our existing portfolio of brands was already focused on women so this was a natural evolution. Let me expand.
Women have been overlooked and underserved by the healthcare system for centuries. Numerous areas of women’s health are under-studied, under-diagnosed, under-treated and often stigmatized. The evidence of neglect and bias is everywhere. For example, the average time to diagnose endometriosis is 4.4 years,1 with the pain and experience of women suffering from this condition often dismissed as psychological.2 Not surprisingly, women seek answers beyond the medical system and often turn to consumer products for a broad range of healthcare challenges and needs. Consumer products, including OTC products, are by far the most accessible solution to various healthcare challenges; requiring no medical visit, no prescription, no prior authorization and usually costing less than a copay. In short, these products often fill the gaps left behind by the medical system.
Given that women comprise 50% of the population and over 80% of health-related spending decisions, you would think that big CPG companies would seek to fill the void left by the medical system. Unfortunately, that is not yet the case. The large consumer health companies have historically focused narrowly on menstrual care and baby care. Just think of walking through a large pharmacy. There is an entire aisle dedicated to menstrual products and very little shelf space for other needs. But women need help with more than just periods and babies. There are dozens of other conditions that have been systematically ignored by the incumbents. Conditions like PCOS, pelvic floor dysfunction and menopause, to name a few. As a result, innovative, independent brands have rushed to fill the gaps. These independent brands are often built by consumers that have been personally impacted by a specific healthcare issue or in some cases, built by physicians. They tend to focus on a specific niche and do so in an authentic, credible way, which enables them to resonate with their consumers and blaze a trail.
Scaling consumer health brands is hard and at a certain point, independent brands need help with marketing, supply chain, new product development, regulatory compliance, analytics, and a host of other challenges. At this point, brand owners often want to sell and move on or find a partner that can help them grow. Until recently, there weren’t many good options. Independent brands are often too small for the large strategics to acquire and they are usually disinterested in selling control to financial investors who can’t help them grow. Incidentally, this is also true of orphaned brands within larger holding companies. They’re too small for their current home and need management that financial investors lack. This creates a large opportunity to build a home for these brands. A home that offers liquidity and freedom while amplifying growth in ways brands cannot achieve alone.
The word platform is overused. For us, platform means the people, partnerships and technology to find, acquire and grow women’s health brands. The test of our platform’s horsepower is its ability to scale both acquisitions and organic growth with diminishing expense over time. When we started Intrinsic, we focused broadly on healthcare. However, after acquiring a handful of women’s health brands, it became obvious that tighter focus has important advantages. By focusing more narrowly on women’s health, we are able to build the company around a consumer and her needs and preferences. This enables us to engage her efficiently and authentically wherever she seeks answers, seeks care or shops. By building a collection of leading brands, we are able to offer women, retailers, distributors and providers a broad catalog of solutions spanning numerous conditions and life stages. These marketing and distribution advantages are difficult for others to replicate. The sum becomes so much more valuable than the parts.
In parallel to our new focus on women’s health, we are also announcing a fundraise to fuel growth. We recently closed a new $15 million round of equity, bringing total capital raised to date to $128 million. This capital will be used to acquire the next crop of category defining women’s health brands and accelerate their growth omnichannel across both retail and healthcare channels.
Raising capital in the last year was incredibly difficult. Our ability to do so is testament to the strength of our team, our mission and our strategy. We have a unique opportunity to support women and create the world’s first consumer health company focused on women. We are incredibly excited by the opportunity.
I am lucky to work with a special team: Erum Hasnain, Mike Blank, Chris Giacolone, Avia Yudalevich, Venkat Subramainian and Mike Ng and everyone else at Intrinsic. I am especially grateful to the ongoing support from existing investors: Define Ventures, Redesign Health and Link Ventures and thrilled to welcome new investors FCA Ventures and MAP Investco.
1. Soliman AM, Fuldeore M, Snabes MC. Factors associated with time to endometriosis diagnosis in the United States. J Womens Health (Larchmt) 2017;26:788–797
2. Young K, Fisher J, Kirkman M. “Do mad people get endo or does endo make you mad?”: Clinicians' discursive constructions of Medicine and women with endometriosis. Femin Psychol 2018;29:337–356