The Graz-based MedTech startup SteadySense is launching temperature-based fertility measurement patches. In the background is a million investment by Grazer eQventure.
“The temperature method for determining the time of ovulation is rightly criticized,” says Werner Koele, founder of the Graz startup SteadySense, “because if you’re not extremely accurate, it is uncertain. You always have to measure at the exact same position “.
The problem is not the science behind it. During ovulation, the body temperature rises by 0.2 ° C to 0.5 ° C – this was already scientifically proven in early 1928. “The challenge is to capture that reliably,” says Koele.
That’s exactly what he wants to do with the now launched product FemSense, which is supposed to support couples – in the first step – in fulfilling their desire for children. The FemSense patch is a plaster-type thermometer that is placed under the armpit for three to five days during the cycle.
Koele, who previously worked for Infineon, has developed the patch with the company. Via NFC you can use the smartphone to read the internally stored temperature data, which is processed by an app. “Our patch always measures in the same place and above all it measures continuously, every two minutes. The many factors that can lead to temperature fluctuations, thereby irrelevant. The self-learning algorithm recognizes the overall picture and gets more and more accurate over time, “says Koele.
That SteadySense takes on the subject of fertility, was not clear from the beginning, says the founder. “Originally we simply designed it as a thermometer. In the Science Park Graz I had Michael Schenk as mentor “. The gynecologist gave the crucial input and became the “scientific conscience” of the company, as Koele calls it. Another mentor in the Science Park provided the necessary capital: Herbert Gartner.
The Business Angel of the Year 2017 is investing a total of six million euros in the startup in Graz with its “Investors Club” eQventure. It’s not just the first investment in a B2C startup by eQventure. It is also the third highest so far after the two USound investments. Part of the money has already flowed, says Koele. All in all, around five million euros have been invested in product development and corporate development.
The investor builds on a use case that currently can not be reproduced: contraception. “Having a baby product is much easier,” says SteadySense founder. And a corresponding medical device approval for the EU is already available. In the US it should soon be ready. “To allow FemSense as a contraceptive product, we need a scientific study of 100 people over a year, among other things,” says Koele.
It will now be started, part of the capital will be used for this. Further money should flow into marketing measures and the planned US expansion. In addition, you will soon also offer a smart children’s clinical thermometer.
The numbers are clear in any case. “The fertility market has a global volume of about two billion euros per year. The contraceptive market is around 200 billion euros, “says Koele. Because children want to get couples on average one to three times in life.
“They want to prevent every other month”. Compared to the competition, which also offers hormone-free methods, one wants to settle next to reliability and usability. “There are quite reliable products. But they are about the night, or for several days to install in the vagina. Of course I can not speak for women, but I get the feedback that we have a more comfortable alternative with the patch in the armpit, “says Koele.
At the moment, customers are paying about 150 euros for six patches, ie half a year of fertility monitoring. “You typically do not need to last longer,” says Koele. As soon as the approval is presented as a contraceptive product, the price should be significantly reduced. “Contraception must be cheaper. In this area, the product is not for sale for the price, “admits the founder.