5 Trailblazing Women in Health and Wellness
Credit goes to the women before and among us who have hacked their way through health and living. Women’s health problems can be dismissed as psychological or emotional—yet women’s life force continues to coarse through new life and healing.
My health journey started intellectually with Rebeca Skloot’s book about Henrietta Lacks whose DNA, taken without her knowledge, unlocked medical breakthroughs all while her family members struggled with socioeconomic health consequences. Then a devastating pulmonary embolism, caused by birth control pills prescribed with little context of my lifestyle of nonstop travel, opened my eyes to the medical gender research gap that impacts us daily.
As part of our focus on future consumer trends, M13 has relentlessly invested in health trends of the future—and some of the most promising ones are led by women. Fostering gender equality in wellness products and medicine will improve our standard of care and long-term health outcomes, not only for women but everyone.
At M13, we’re investing in the consumerization of healthcare and believe that COVID-19 has accelerated innovation in DTC healthcare solutions in an exciting way. Within this frame, we’re also focused on healthcare solutions for women led by women. Women have traditionally been underserved in the healthcare system, and women-led solutions are solving this imbalance for us all.
These five leaders at M13 portfolio companies inspire us every day:
Elizabeth Ruzzo, Ph.D. | Founder & CEO
What we love: adyn, which closed a $2.5 million Series A in April, is a precision medicine company that aims to close the medical research gender gap. Its first product is an at-home kit that uses your biology to personalize your birth control choice by assessing genetic risk for two of the most serious side effects: blood clots and depression. adyn’s trained birth control specialists share personalized recommendations and are available for ongoing care. Read more
Elizabeth’s superpower: What we put in our bodies shouldn’t be one-size-fits-all, yet that’s how birth control selection is currently approached. From the first meeting that Elizabeth invited me to, it was clear that inclusion is a key personal driver as she builds adyn. adyn’s branding, educational information, and social media content are deliberately mindful to welcome everyone. With this approach of fostering an open and inclusive dialogue, Elizabeth is ensuring that more people understand ways to incorporate our unique biologies to medication decisions, enabling more of us to optimize our health starting with birth control and expanding to other areas such as fertility.
Florencia Halperin, M.D. | Chief Medical Officer
What we love: Form Health, which announced $10 million in Series A funding in mid-June, is modernizing medical weight loss via the virtual care of board-certified physicians and dietitians who are with you at every step. Read more
Florencia’s superpower: Florencia applies compassion and innovation into her medical practice. Trained at Harvard Medical School, Florencia co-founded the Center for Weight Management and Metabolic Surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. An Argentinian-American fluent in Spanish, Florencia began her medical journey committed to serving Spanish-language communities with diabetes. Her understanding of her patients’ challenges—from the burdens of chronic health conditions and cultural stigma of obesity to the inconvenience and infrequency of check-ups—drew her to innovate on care via smartphone. As a result, Form Health’s holistic program incorporates the convenience of remote monitoring and live coaching from physicians and dietitians with behavioral science, nutrition, exercise, and medication.
What we love: Kindra, which announced its $4.5 million seed round in mid-June, is normalizing and modernizing menopause. The DTC brand offers estrogen-free, over-the-counter solutions to help alleviate and prevent the most common menopause symptoms. In 2019, M13’s in-house venture studio Launchpad partnered with Procter & Gamble Ventures (PGV) to combine the strength of P&G’s consumer product innovation with M13’s entrepreneurial agility, DTC capabilities, and network of investors and advisors. Read more
Catherine’s superpower: “This shouldn’t be like Fight Club,” Catherine says. “The first rule of menopause should be to TALK about menopause.” As the former Chief Content Officer at Mattel, Catherine is a born storyteller, and she’s bringing that talent to building a brand that brings women together around a shared menopause journey. Under Catherine’s leadership, Kindra is more than just a collection of products—it’s an invitation to celebrate life and the community of women who are part of Kindra.
Angie Tebbe | Co-founder & CEO
What we love: Rae, which announced its $9.5 million Series A in early June, is democratizing wellness by developing supplements that support women’s well-being in sexual, hormonal, and mental health. The beauty and nutritional supplement industries are on the rise (with an average 5% compound annual growth rate), and Gen Y and Z consumers continually seek cleaner, natural, and multi-purpose products. Read more
Angie’s superpower: After 13 years as a Target executive, Angie’s personal and professional journey into wellness led her to create a brand that immediately resonated with women seeking affordable quality wellness products. Holistic wellness for women can help heal the larger community; during last summer’s challenging times in Minneapolis and around the country, Rae provided help and funds to support ending racial injustice. Noting the medical research gender gap, Angie partnered with OpenNest and Radicle on a study on CBD and women’s health. It led to one of the first and largest longitudinal controlled studies on the effects of commercially available CBD and the first-ever study focused exclusively on cannabidiol’s potential to support the wellness of women. Trailblazing stuff—all while she prepared to give birth to her third child!
Ara Katz | Co-founder & Co-CEO
What we love: Seed Health, which closed $40 million in Series A funding in April, is a microbial sciences startup that’s pioneering applications of bacteria to improve human and environmental health. The DTC company, which offers a daily probiotic to support gut health, is working on expanding to even more categories. Read more
Ara’s superpower: As we experienced during the pandemic, low science literacy and trust in science have consequences. Seed Health’s approach to brand and community building is through science communication. Seed’s arresting visual images let us peek into the daily miracles of our inner universe, and the team puts great effort into producing digestible (pun intended) lessons that inform us of the connection of microbes to our health and our planet’s health. Ara’s commitment to science communication has forged a path to next-generation probiotics and microbiome-based innovations and made an indelible impact on hygiene, diet, and self-care categories.
M13 Partner Anna Barber contributed to this article.