Meet 28: A US-based femtech startup founded by a husband-and-wife team in a $3.2 million seed round led by TL Capital that aims to connect women’s fitness and health with their menstrual cycle hormone levels. Physical and emotional gain.
The startup is drawing on recent popular science, which suggests there may be benefits for menopausal people to adjust their exercise, diet and other health-focused activities to the hormonal changes they experience each month through their natural cycle.
The founders were pushing ahead before they scored a round of funding from TL Capital. Others investing in the seed round include Learn Capital, Iron Pearl, and some unnamed private angel investors.
“A lot of women I know were experiencing painful periods and other hormone-related symptoms. Women were tired of the pill and the negative effects it was having on their minds and bodies. They were coming off in droves and looking for natural alternatives,” co-founder Brittany Hugoboom said in a call with TechCrush to launch the business. She talks about the inspiration that drives her.
“Many women talk about their experiences of being dismissed or angry by their doctors. And most shockingly, it turns out that most women have absolutely no clue about their cycle. And it’s not their fault that most women don’t get much sex education. So the idea was born from these problems – we want to democratize the science of hormonal and menstrual health. And provide tangible tools for women everywhere to thrive physically and emotionally.
Hugoboom, a model and entrepreneur, said she first had the idea three years ago, but started filming the show’s content 1.5 years ago to prepare for the product launch.
The group is kicking things off now by offering free “cycle-based” fitness and health programs – starting today with a soft launch (on the web) focused on acquiring users in the US market. (NB: Android and iOS apps are in the works and will be launched soon in a month or so.)
28’s product takes the form of daily workout videos, nutrition profiles — and “science-based emotional insights,” as the co-founder puts it — to help the startup view the user’s cycle as customized (and at least, that sounds smart) in the increasingly crowded fitness/health space. transaction).
The fitness/health program focuses on four different phases of the cycle related to the hormonal fluctuations of the female reproductive system: the period itself, when hormone levels (and possibly energy) are low as the body sheds the lining of the womb. cycle to prepare a fertilized egg; The cycle begins again when hormones such as estrogen and testosterone are released to encourage the release of a new egg, ovulation, when the egg is released, the window of fertilization opens and sexual desire (and energy) is high; And the luteal phase, before the start of the next period, is when progesterone dominates and women may experience associated symptoms such as PMS.
The initiation classifies these stages into a low-energy, self-centered “recovery” stage; A filling, “active” phase focused on muscle growth; Positive, high power “performance” level; And a declining level of “balance”—to figure out how to fit exercise and wellness content into a user’s cycle.
“The great thing about 28 is that we’re incorporating a wide variety of activity into different parts of your cycle,” says Hugoboom, who points out that there are physical and emotional benefits to women’s training, diet and other lifestyle adjustments. Factors with their cycles.
“So, for example, when you’re on your period, you can do a yin-yoga stretch detox. During your follicular phase, you start doing more Pilates-based exercises. You can do ovulation hardcore kickboxing, circuit-training. And then you go back down – but you flow with your cycle. So I think that’s what makes it special.
While exercise is a big focus for 28, she stresses that it’s only “one part” of the wider ‘holistic health’ game.
When they log in, it shows them a daily workout they can do, science-based horoscopes based on their emotional insights, shows a specific diet you might have at that time – like maybe you need more salmon or omega 3 during the month and you need more iron at another time of the month. It depends on your cycle, but it gives you all that information,” she explains, explaining how the product looks from the consumer’s perspective.
It’s worth noting that 28 doesn’t (yet) offer a period-tracking app of its own (in fact, there are many already). Nor does it offer any hardware or other technology for women to accurately track their hormone levels, like some Femtech startups. All 28 users have to do is enter the first day of their last period to have their content mapped to their cycle. (If a user isn’t currently menstruating, say they’re pregnant or on the pill, Startup suggests using the lunar cycle as an alternative.)
Looking at that ride, it’s clear that cycles can vary in length and regularity, so it’s clear to predict each user’s hormone levels – which suggests there’s a limit to how close you can get to the “science of the cycle.” Of course you can get it. (And talking about ‘detox’ or indeed ‘science-based horoscopes’ would be tough for the average scientist.)
But if you’re aiming for maximum consumer usability, ease of access, and scalability, a single data point approach is the obvious choice. (The FAQ on the 28 website suggests that users can “adjust the date point if future periods come late or early by updating your cycle in your profile settings as needed”.)
Hugoboom hints that the team is looking to develop more technology — to enhance personalization. “Now we’re not cycle trackers – but we’re working with technology to make it more personal and accurate,” she points out.
Discussing 28’s holistic approach to fitness and health, her experience with overtraining — and the associated injuries — in her twenties, when she regularly scheduled six hardcore workouts a week, led to her being sought out by several trainers. Pre-Treatment” approach, focused on injury prevention. And that philosophy carries over into 28 — which, on its website, describes the “Method” as “a restorative, stability-based approach to women’s exercise designed by supermodel trainers and therapists to work with your natural cycle.”
While the first wave of 28 is free to consume in a customized lifestyle, the question of what happens to user data is not clear to produce, which could pose privacy concerns? The startup is alive to these concerns – and questions about it website “We will never sell your data,” he says (targeted advertising may result in selling attention rather than actual user data, so the privacy claim closely examines the issue of data sales, at least) — while appreciating “the support of patient investors who share our vision.” (But hey, even the most patient investors want a return eventually.)
“We do not do any monetization whatsoever,” she reiterated when pressed to confirm that the startup does not engage in monetization of user attention with ads. “The information we collect is strictly confidential and is used only to provide a personalized user experience.”
So how, then, can 28 he intend to monetize the product – rationalize its intended use? (The goal, she says, is to reach one million users in the next 12 months.)
“Right now we are a premium model and luckily our investors support this decision because we want to connect as many women as possible with their cycle and learn about their cycle – but we will be able to monetize it in the future with premium content and physical products,” she said, pointing out the subscription below the line. She hinted at the ‘Premium’ option of the plan.
“Right now we have some R&D on a physical product to go with the 28,” she added, declining to specify exactly what kind of kit it would work on. (It’s not hard to imagine the wide range of products that could be marketed to the health-conscious women’s community – at least not the extra supplements that the product suggests the user ‘needs’ at a certain point in their menstrual cycle.)
Who is the typical 28 user? The service is aimed at women of any age, according to HugoBoom – and is generally aimed at the “well-rounded, health-conscious” woman – but she points out that 20-somethings are “probably” the main demographic – because that’s where they live. We are looking for a natural alternative to hormonal birth control.
As women across the country struggle to access health services like abortion in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision, is a business focused on women’s health — and information about their reproductive cycles — out of the U.S. comfortable? To overturn Roe v Wade? The decision led to several states banning abortions earlier this year and in affected US states, pregnant women can be prosecuted if they seek abortions or lose their babies and authorities suspect the termination was not a natural miscarriage.
“We don’t sell any user data, so I don’t think there will be a problem. It’s just women learning about their natural cycle and how to benefit themselves, so I don’t think there’s any conflict there,” she responded, adding, “We talked to our lawyers about it two weeks ago. Decision [to overturn Roe v Wade] It came out, and it will be really hard [for state prosecutors to subpoena data that could pose a legal risk to users]He said.
We are also excited to know the selection of the 28 leading investors.
Peter Thiel, whose fund Thiel Capital is leading the seed, may not be a fan choice for such a woman-oriented business – given certain (famous) libertarian views, expressed a few years ago in an essay in which he argued that women’s rights were bad for democracy. But here’s a measure of the rising value that TL investors are finally starting to place on women’s health startups—the white-male-dominated VC sector seems to be cottoning on to the opportunity. To sell goods to half of the world’s population.
Hugoboom says the seed investment from Thiel Capital came after her husband (and her co-founders) got an introduction to Peter Thiel through a mutual friend. “Although I can’t speak for it, I think the idea of creating a whole new category in women’s health caught his attention. [Thiel]. Like, the whole feeling of why hasn’t anyone done this?”
“I think he’s a brilliant investor and he’s known for investing in people to solve difficult problems, so I’m delighted to have him on board,” she added.