Berlin-based Clue, which makes a period tracker app designed to let women keep tabs on their monthly cycles and help predict their fertile window, has closed a $7 million Series A round, with investment from New York’s Union Square Ventures and London-based Series A fund Mosaic Ventures. The new round brings Clue’s total raised to-date to $10 million.
As well as tracking periods, Clue users can also choose to keep tabs on other hormonal changes taking place during their monthly cycle, such as low or high sex drive or PMT related symptoms such as low energy levels or insomnia. The app also lets users record when they had sex — useful data to correlate with your fertility window if you’re trying to get pregnant.
While there are a lot of period tracker apps in the market, co-founder Ida Tin says Clue has a more ambitious aim than most — and talks in terms of building a “platform for female health”.
There’s lots of investors who will say that it’s interesting, but they don’t write the check…
“What we want to do is basically bringing this whole amazing field of female health into the whole age of data,” she tells TechCrunch. “Seeing how we can integrate all kinds of data streams from various sensors and so on and bring this all together and give women a really powerful way to understand what’s going on in their bodies.”
In a blog post announcing the new financing, Clue says it will be using the new funding to fuel growth by expanding its feature set, hiring more staff and developing new markets.
Fleshing out Clue’s plans, Tin added: “The main thing we want to work on is simply deepening the insights that women can get from the data. So getting even better at working with the data we have to make predictions more accurate. And also making notifications more advanced and more contextual.”
The accuracy of Clue’s predictions will vary depending on the user’s cycle — so women with very regular monthly cycles will likely get more accurate fertility predictions than those with irregular cycles. Providing users with a sense of how accurate the app’s predictions are for their particular cycle is also on the roadmap, says Tin.
“These are some of the things we can now start exploring now because now we really have a big data set, and we can also start doing our own clinical research in it,” she says. “For instance the app will be able to say it looks like your cycle looks to be falling into this particular pattern — so for this particular pattern these and these and these things might be relevant to track — or your accuracy will be so and so because you fall into this category. So we can say for you specifically your accuracy is probably within this range.”
Clue has also been approached by multiple universities interested in working with its data on studies around female reproductive health issues. Tin says it’s working with several at this stage, including Stanford, Columbia in New York, the University of Utah and Washington University. (During the on-boarding process Clue users are also asked whether they want to opt in to being contacted to participate in specific research studies.) The opportunities for research are clear.
“Most women still don’t really know what’s going on with their reproductive health and that’s a huge opportunity because it’s an area where very big life decisions are made, and there’s a lot of emotions around it, and it’s impacting our health in many, many ways and it’s impacting our everyday life in many ways, and our relationships as well. So it’s not a ‘nice to have’; it’s a ‘need to have’ kind of area. And there are no players that have really managed to solve this in a really fulfilling way. And that’s what we’re trying to do,” adds Tin.
“One thing we are already looking at is bleeding patterns in relation to IUDs [intrauterine contraceptive devices]. And then there are things people are curious about — like do you bleed together with other women in the same cycles, or can you time trying for a boy or girl if you’re trying to get pregnant. So these more kind of ‘lifestyle’ type questions, which I think we can conduct some real science around. But these are just kind of the ‘light end’ — it’s all the way from these kinds of things to more medical [questions like] do people who experience heavy PMS do they also experience heavy bleeding, for instance? What kind of correlations do we find?”
Has it been easy to raise funding with a pitch to build a heath-focused platform that has potential relevance to the lives of some 50 per cent of humans on the planet? “No it has not been easy,” says Tin. “I do think that this field of female health and reproductive health is exploding, and I think we are going to see so many cool products and services in this field, and they are going to be funded, but I still think that could be accelerated massively.
“I still think there’s lots of investors who will say that it’s interesting, but they don’t write the check…”
In what is perhaps something of a related ‘penny-drop’ moment, Apple corrected a glaring female health oversight in its own Health app this summer by finally adding period tracking.
“We need more female partners of course,” adds Tin, on the investment point, after I bring up the gender imbalance in the VC firms fueling the tech industry.
Markets wise, Tin says Clue’s main focus at this stage remains Europe and the U.S. (which is currently its biggest market), with LatAm and Japan also “quite interesting” at this stage. It’s also looking at India with a view to figuring out whether there’s an opportunity to do something from “more of an education/global good” point of view, she adds.