When discussing sexual health or visits to the gynecologist, there are many prejudices, taboos, and fears. This raises Giovanna Abramo, co-founder of Plenna, a Mexican startup completely oriented to women’s health that attends online and face-to-face. She also says that in her country, as in the rest of the region, many areas of women’s health need to be addressed.
Latin America is a fertile market for the femtech sector (a label that groups these types of companies), according to the FemTech Industry Landscape Q2 2022 report by the FemTech Analytics platform. The report notes that this industry increases access to women-only treatments, lowers costs, and improves health outcomes.
As of the first half of 2022, there were 32 femtech companies in the region, with Brazil accounting for more than 75% of the startups in the sector, followed by Mexico (9%), Nicaragua (6%), and Argentina (6%).
Among the LatAm femtech startups highlighted by the study are Theia, Oya Care, Lilit, Mamotest, and Plenna.
The latter has been talked about in Mexico last year due to its growth and acceptance, so Contxto sat down to talk with its founders.
What has been the key to Plenna’s growth?
In a conversation in which Plenna’s founders, Giovanna Abramo and Lorena Ostos, invite you to ask anything you want, they said they are convinced that their company is a success story in the industry because they have revolutionized how women’s health is offered in Mexico, with a hybrid model between in-person and online. For Abramo, their model is modern and different because it focuses on creating a great experience for their patients, from the way they designed the physical clinic in Mexico City to the online service.
“With little time in the market, we have seen a good reaction among patients and the doctors we work with. We still have many areas of women’s health to cover, but in this year that we have been operating, I am sure that we have revolutionized this health issue in Mexico,” she mentioned.
Currently, they have three specialties: gynecology, psychology, and nutrition. The founders say they are areas that connect the main aspects of a woman’s health.
Plenna operates in a hybrid way to provide a complete experience with the whole context of what a patient is, explained Ostos and Abramo. They have a clinic that opened last March in which they offer a specialty in gynecology, while in a digital format, they offer psychology and nutrition.
“Last year, we dedicated ourselves to launching these services and opening the on-site clinic. In 2022 we served more than 4,000 women, which is a great achievement for us,” says Abramo.
For Abramo, one of Plenna’s advantages is that its app allows her to have a medical record of the patient, which she can take with her wherever she goes. There she can add her prescriptions or schedule appointments for different specialties. “The goal of this is for the patient to be in control of her health and what is going on in her body,” she says.
Plenna’s patients range from 18 to 40 years old, with women aged 27 and 28 being the most frequent users of the platform.
Giovanna Abramo pointed out that among the main conditions prevalent in Mexico are Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). “Several women think there is only one way to treat it [PCOS], through birth control pills, and they don’t know what they are experiencing. However, at Plenna, we provide not only gynecological treatment but also nutritional and psychological treatment. These have been the main axes to improve their daily lives.”
Plenna started with two people, and the company remained that way for a year. Today it has 40 people in three areas: the medical area, with gynecologists, nutritionists, and young psychologists (“so that there is a better connection with patients”), and the developer and support areas.
The Mexican feminine care company shared that in the Q2 and Q3 of 2022, it saw a 34% growth in the number of patients and 30% in revenues.
So, after one year of growth and two rounds of funding, what’s next for Plenna is to open the maternity specialty, something patients have asked for. “We want to be the reference brand from menstruation to menopause,” says Abramo.
In light of this, Abramo said that although the industry has yet to raise awareness of health issues, he sees a great outlook for the femtech ecosystem. “In the next five years, we see the femtech industry in Latin America much larger, with a more robust ecosystem of companies and some more consolidated, solving more specific areas, very similar to what is happening in the US. There will even be a greater diversification of startups, some larger ones that can support and invest in other new or smaller ones”.
In an industry that expects its market to reach US$97.3 billion by 2030 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 16% between 2022 and 2030, Plenna also plans to continue growing as it will look to expand in Mexico City and start with a subscription model (so far you pay for each consultation or service) to offer packages that give continuous follow-up on women’s health.
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