In a country that had a balance of 2 million new companies in a pandemic year, according to the federal government’s Business Map, finding an underexplored niche can be difficult. If the target audience is women, over 40 and entering menopause, however, there are two pieces of news. The first: the numbers for this market are promising. Second: it practically doesn’t exist and has no competitors.
A survey by the American Menopause Society estimates that by 2025, more than 1 billion women in the world will be in postmenopausal women.menopause (the period starting one year after the end of the last menstrual cycle). Considering that the life expectancy of women in Brazil is 80 years, according to the IBGE, it is expected that this stage corresponds to one third of life.
With an eye on these numbers, entrepreneurs Marcia Cunha, 38, and Carla Moussall, 32, created this August Plenapausa, a company focused on helping those who are going through climacteric (which, popularly, we know as menopause, but menopause technically corresponds only to the day of the last menstruation). The company emerged from a pivot, that is, a change in the direction of the business, after an acceleration program.
“15% of the Brazilian population is in the pre- and post-menopause stages, between 40 and 64 years of age. There are 34 million women and potential clients. In the market, there is a lot of talk about the issue of menstruation and fertility, but menopause is not the end. I started doing research and realized how latent misinformation on the topic is and it became clear that the first thing we should do was generate it”, says Márcia.
In Brazil, in surveys carried out by Plenapausa, the entrepreneurs heard about 100 climacteric women: 41% do not know the symptoms of menopause and only 15% seek medical treatment. With the discoveries, they created a freemium service – which starts free and, over time, incorporates paid services – in which the person answers a form and receives an assessment with the stage of menopause they are in, tips for the day -to-day and directions of what to do.
So far, the company is maintained with its own capital – which provides free evaluation -, but the plan is that, when 300 completed questionnaires are completed, there will be the launch of a product or service still under development. Until then, 200 evaluations were made on the platform.
“The search for some services has already started. There are already women calling us on whatsapp. This demand for contact has grown a lot since launch. The idea is that in three months we will be launching something”, explains Márcia.
According to a study by the Female Founders Fund (seed capital investment fund for companies created by women), in 2020, the opportunities for the world market for menopause are around US$600 billion. Of the US$ 254 million invested in technology for women’s health in the last ten years, only 5% were destined to treatments for menopause, with the majority being used in reproductive health and fertility.
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While Brazil is still beginning to explore this market, outside the country there are already startups consolidating in the segment. Earlier this month, US-based Elektra Health, the menopause services community, raised $3.75 million in seed capital. The British Vira Health, creator of the Stella app, which works as a health assistant for menopause, raised £1.5 million.
Opportunities in digital communities
The Female Founders Fund’s study around the menopause market found that the biggest opportunities for companies are in products such as creams and supplements, telemedicine and digital communities for women to connect. It is precisely in the latter that No Pausa established itself two years ago, in Brazil and Argentina.
“The project was born out of a need of mine, when, at the age of 48, I started to have imbalances in my health and I couldn’t see where they came from, each doctor told me something, until I took a hormone test and the result came : perimenopause (period before menopause). I didn’t even know it existed. Our purpose is this: we don’t want anyone to go through the climacteric without information”, says Miriam de Paoli, 51 years old.
Together with Argentina’s Milagros Kirpach, 27, she created the company that was born to share experiences and find solutions together with other people. Among the services offered, the main one is the information network with free content for around 80 thousand members.
“It’s not just women who enter the climacteric, anyone who menstruates will enter, regardless of their gender identity. So we try to use inclusive language. In our community in Argentina, 1.2% is represented by a group of transgender people”, she explains.
Together with the generation of free informative content, in order to earn revenue, entrepreneurs hold workshops for governments, civil society organizations and companies (such as consulting to work on ageism in corporations) and are committed to co-creating content with brands.
Recently, they formed partnerships with Womanizer – a German brand of vibrators – and with Feel, a Brazilian sextech of lubricants. Invoicing manages to keep the company standing since the ninth month of creation.
sexual well-being at maturity
When they founded sextech last year, the entrepreneurs behind Feel were targeting 35-year-old women, but while researching massage oils and lubricants, they discovered a movement of older women consuming lubricants, vibrators and talk more about sexuality in therapy.
“This led us to understand that there is a lot of quality in terms of sexuality at this age versus what happens to the body in physiological terms (the change in hormones brings vaginal dryness) and in terms of attitude, because there is a sexual intelligence, of know what you like and what you don’t,” explains 35-year-old CEO of the brand, Marina Ratton.
According to the Erotic Market Portal, specialized in the sector, lubricants are one of the best-selling products in the sexual well-being segment, mainly because of women over 40 who have entered menopause.
“The sex shop is an environment in which women feel comfortable talking about sexual pain, vaginal dryness, vaginismus, anorgasmia, issues that often should be taken to gynecologists and therapists, but they don’t find space to open up”, says Paula Aguiar, 53, CEO of Portal Erótico.
With the surveys, Feel understood that it needed the lubricant, the brand’s flagship, was also moisturizing and had the ability to regenerate microcracks, characteristics that can be good for all ages, but which are especially beneficial for the public over 40 years.
“These women are not being served by the market. In the beauty segment, with face creams, yes. But considering the power of this market in terms of growth, there are still few products focused on women between 50 and 60 years old”, says Marina.
Sextech is preparing three releases for the end of the year and two of them will be focused on specific climacteric and menopause needs.