Why this venture capitalist thinks LGBTQ+ and women’s health is the next big investment frontier – GeekWire
Women make the vast majority of healthcare decisions and on average spend 30% more than men on healthcare. And yet when it comes to funding next-generation digital health concepts, just 3% of fundings in the past decade have addressed the unique health and wellness needs of women.
Seattle venture capitalist Julie Sandler sees those numbers, and senses opportunity.
“Every incentive you could possibly want to serve the well being and health of the female identifying population, it’s acutely there,” said Sandler, a managing director at Pioneer Square Labs. “When you’ve got an area like that, that has just been so historically, repeatedly and sustainably underserved, and under-invested over generations, that creates opportunity.”
Sandler shares more insights about this emerging category of investment in the latest episode of 2025: Tomorrow, Today, a new podcast created by GeekWire Studios in partnership with Northern Trust. In our most recent set of interviews, we are talking to leading venture capitalists — including Dan Li of Madrona Venture Group and Bobby Wagner of Fuse Venture Partners — to get their thoughts on important investment themes of the future.
Listen to today’s episode here, and subscribe to 2025: Tomorrow, Today in any podcast app to catch future episodes.
Here are some selected highlights from Sandler’s interview:
- On the imbalance of funding of men’s health vs. women’s health due to a male-dominated VC industry (11:00): “If any of these health and wellness issues that I mentioned — whether it was related to the reproductive life cycle, whether it was related to disease — if any of these things ended up being things that men struggled with, you wouldn’t see a lack of funding in these areas. We’d know everything.”
- On the femtech naming nomenclature and why the LGBTQ+ population needs quality healthcare (15:00): “The term femtech itself is a bit odd in that it overlooks the complexity in the term female these days. Femtech overlooks, largely to date, the LGBTQ population. And this is a community where the majority of individuals report facing discrimination when they seek quality healthcare, and thus, they are more likely to not seek healthcare when it’s needed and thus have worse health outcomes. …So few investors are paying attention to this, and frankly I think if you are an investor and you are ignoring this and you are focused on consumer opportunities, you are crazy. And, by the way, over 70% of the LGBTQ+ population identifies as female, so solutions that support this community to find care, to access safe care, to approach more holistic forms of care, it’s this massive opportunity today and even so tomorrow and the future generations.”
- On what success looks like for femtech investing (27:45): “My hope is that the emergence of huge successes in this category lead to the natural investment in better medical research supporting women’s health — particularly women’s health across the reproductive life cycle. And I hope that the success of this category means that women are able to move through these acute moments, these acute experiences of their lives that can be disruptive to their careers or their entrepreneurial journeys, and be better able to tackle all the different pieces of their life, their health, their families, their work, their entrepreneurial undertakings in the case of aspiring entrepreneurs. And I think having a few winners in this category will also pave the way for more women to notice problems that they’re experiencing either at the consumer level, the patient level or the health system level and say: ‘you know what, this is a total greenfield opportunity I’m going to start something for myself here.’ And I’ll be excited to back them when they do.”
Subscribe to 2025: Tomorrow, Today in Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or any podcast app. This podcast is a partnership of GeekWire and Northern Trust. Produced and edited by Josh Kerns of Cypress Point Strategic Communications.