RH Capital, a Rhia Ventures fund, is an impact-first, venture capital fund that invests in early-stage startups promising to revolutionize women’s health and improve health equity in the US. Investing across all healthcare segments, including the life sciences (diagnostics, devices, therapeutics), digital health, services, and consumer health, with a focus on contraception, maternal health, and a broad range of other high-impact and underserved areas in women’s health.
We had the chance to hear from Cassidy Petit, an Analyst at RH Capital. Cassidy started her career in social work, where she worked with expectant and new mothers in recovery and transitioning out of incarceration. A passion for technology and entrepreneurship eventually inspired her to switch gears to venture capital. Prior to joining RH Capital, Cassidy spent the past 3.5 years building Hula, a Vermont-based, early-stage technology incubator and venture fund focused on economic development and rural innovation.
The US is a world leader in technology, yet we represent one of the worst maternal mortality rates of the developed nations – and it’s getting worse. Today, I am at a greater risk of dying in childbirth than my mother was when she gave birth to me, which is baffling and frankly embarrassing. The US healthcare system continues to fail women.
The problem with “femtech” is that there is no standard definition, it sometimes excludes life sciences (pharma, biotech, device) and diagnostics and focuses on digital, consumer, and services related to women’s health. We feel most of the data surrounding “femtech” does not accurately capture all of women’s health so we approach that with caution. However, the VC world loves catchy names for market segments. The rise of the term “femtech” seems to be sparking conversation and bringing attention and legitimacy to the sector, which we love to see.
We have seen a lot of diagnostics for women’s health conditions. Early detection and diagnosis are key for improving the prognosis for women across oncology, maternal health complications, STIs, etc.
We have also seen a lot of energy around chronic conditions such as PCOS, endometriosis, and fibroids which are complicated to diagnose and treat – the current standard of care for these conditions is insufficient.
Lastly, we see a significant number of DTC solutions for women’s health conditions (pelvic health, PCOS, menstrual tracking). While we’re excited by the proliferation of solutions, we like to see evidence-based products and services for women which can be reimbursed by payers.
The biggest misconception is that reproductive and maternal health only affects women. Everyone is born, therefore maternal health affects everyone. Both men and women participate in conception, and both are affected by reproductive health.
One of the reasons women’s health is overlooked by the broad venture market is that it’s pigeonholed to impact investing. Electric vehicles have a major climate impact, yet we don’t refer to investing in Tesla or Rivian as “impact investing”. Impact investing is not a charity and it does not imply concessionary returns, but we are still fighting that bias.
Women represent half the population and give birth to 100% of the population. Women are responsible for 80% of healthcare decision-making. The market opportunity is massive. Women’s health is underinvested and represents a whitespace for venture capital. It’s just good business.
At RH Capital, we deeply assess the impact of our prospective investments – we only invest in companies that meet our impact criteria by advancing health equity. Further, we deeply assess the business case and only invest in companies poised to yield venture returns.
Find a founder addressing a problem that resonates with you. Think critically about who the innovation will impact – is this a premium product or a solution that will be broadly accessible? Assess strategy as you would with any venture investment.
Inside our portfolio:
Developing a novel liquid biopsy-based diagnostic test for earlier detection of ovarian cancer
Developing a hormone-free, next-generation IUD, and other innovative intrauterine drug-delivery technology
Providing telehealth services and an online pharmacy to increase access, convenience, and affordability of reproductive health services
Outside our portfolio:
An insurance-covered virtual care clinic addressing menopause, which is hugely underserved
A hybrid virtual/in-person maternity clinic offering a collaborative OB/midwife model with direct clinical care, and pregnancy monitoring