BERLIN, Germany — Period tracking app Clue has raised €16m at the end of a groundbreaking year that also saw the femtech startup’s contraceptive device granted Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance.
In addition to the funding round, led by Balderton and Future Positive Capital, the German-born company also announced it has onboarded two new co-CEOs to take over from Founder Ida Tin. It now plans to roll out its latest product across the US and other markets as the femtech category hurtles towards $60 billion in value.
Speaking about the new capital, Tin explained: “At Clue, we’re focused on empowering women and people with cycles with trustworthy information and empathetic tools to better understand their bodies, make good choices for themselves, self-manage and self-advocate.”
She continued: “To deliver on this, and specifically as we prepare to launch Clue Birth Control, we’ve had to grow as an organisation to work in an even more responsible and transparent way. We’re delighted to be welcoming new investors that believe in this mission and can support and advise us as we continue to develop new features that empower women and people with cycles across the world.”
A leader in the femtech space — a term coined by Tin — Clue’s period tracking app, which launched in 2012, boasts over 12 million users from 190 different countries. One of the fastest-growing femtech companies worldwide, it aims to support research into the world’s understanding of the menstrual cycle and has forged collaborations with researchers at various prestigious universities.
As part of its mission, earlier this year the company announced a partnership with beauty giant L’Oréal to connect the dots between skin health and the menstrual cycle.
The collaboration will see L’Oréal utilise data from Clue’s app to co-create in-app skin-care advice related to hormones, demonstrating the opportunities that exist for brands to cater for consumers looking for bespoke, real-time solutions.
Now, the next step in its journey revolves around the launch of medical-grade features within the Clue app — the first of which is Clue Birth Control, its FDA-cleared digital contraceptive, which is now being rolled out to eligible users in a limited US launch.
The feature, which uses tracked period start dates to allow women to monitor their fertility and prevent pregnancy, combines the user’s menstrual cycle data with a mathematical model derived from clinical research data to predict which days they are at high or low risk for pregnancy.
“This launch signals a new chapter for Clue as a medical device company in the United States, with our sights set on bringing this new feature to people with cycles in countries around the world,” explained Tin in a recent blog post on the brand’s website.
“It’s an ambitious vision — one that requires a new set of skills to work with regulators, to continue and strengthen our partnerships with scientific researchers and build new features at a global scale,” she added.
However, the company’s latest move doesn’t sit well with everyone — specifically competitor Natural Cycles.
At the time of Clue’s FDA announcement in March, the Swedish company, which was the first birth control app to be cleared by the FDA back in 2018 shared:
“We’re aware of a period tracker recently receiving FDA clearance, meaning that it too can market itself as a contraceptive,” said Elina Berglund, CEO of Natural Cycles.
“This clearance was granted as an abbreviated 510k that claims equivalence to Natural Cycles. As a leader within this field, we feel it’s our responsibility to uphold the highest standards and after our initial findings based on the FDA filing indicate a significant difference between Natural Cycles and this other product, including that this product is solely based on menstrual data and no other biomarker such as temperature. Our medical and research teams will be doing an independent analysis.”
Undeterred by the backlash, Clue put out a statement that read: “The fact that no daily temperature measurements, other clinical observations or hardware are required is a major innovation in user-friendliness as compared with other fertility awareness-based methods of contraception.”
Tin, meanwhile, went on to reassure users that in order to deliver is birth control effectively it would be partnering with “regulators, civil society organisations and scientists committed to bringing safe, trusted products to people wherever they are”.
And despite some criticism, as the company enters its next stage of “growth and innovation”, it certainly isn’t short of backers, having raised more than $47 million from over 20 investors across eight funding rounds.
Balderton, for one, views Clue’s expansion into the birth control market as marking “an exciting opportunity” on its journey, as well as being a “watershed event for women’s health”.
“The global unmet need for accessible, reliable contraception is staggering, and nobody else has unlocked planet-scale software-driven contraception that is universally accessible to all those with smartphones,” stressed Colin Hanna, Partner at Balderton.