Pique, a virtual sexual health clinic focused on pleasure rather than reproduction, has secured $4 million in seed funding, CEO Leslie Busick exclusively told Axios.
Why is it important: Riding a wave of investor interest in women’s digital health, (mostly female) entrepreneurs are beginning to move beyond fertility into sexual health as well as primary care and behavioral health, among others.
- “We feel like we’ve come at the right time,” Busick said. “People are starting to recognize sexual well-being as a key part of health.”
- Unlike a number of startups that focus on sex for the sake of building a family, Pique wants to help women enjoy intimacy, especially those going through menopause.
Details: Maveron led the round and was joined by Bread and Butter Ventures, Halogen, Progression Fund, Pitbull Ventures and the founders of Tend.
How it works: Through Pique’s website, users sign up for a free consultation with a nurse practitioner trained in women’s sexual health who asks questions about their life and relationship status.
- The practitioner then designs a plan of care which may include different types of vaginal estrogen, sex and relationship therapy, and suggested lifestyle changes.
- Pique charges $15 a month for vaginal estrogen, which clinicians say is often used safely to treat symptoms of menopause, including vaginal dryness, itching and burning, and $120 per hour for therapy.
- Users track their progress using the Female Sexual Function Indexa standardized sexual health questionnaire designed to assess sexual well-being.
Yes, but: Like many other digital pharmacies such as Ro and Hims, Pique does not accept insurance, which often does not cover hormone treatments anyway.
The plot: Virtual care companies that use direct-to-consumer models face a steeper road to success than those that employ business-to-business agreements, giving them easy access to large pools of potential customers, observers say. of the sector to Axios.
- So far, the company has relied heavily on word of mouth and referrals, but it will “use some of the [seed round] funds to experiment with creative paid growth channels,” says Busick.
What they say : Because women’s sexual health has been treated as a taboo for decades, tools like Pique fill a critical gap in care, experts tell Axios.
- “Many women don’t feel comfortable talking about sex with their doctor, and many doctors don’t feel comfortable asking about it,” says Engle.
- Pique’s chief medical officer and urologist, Ashley Winter, says that’s partly because of a common but common misconception that it’s ultra-complex, but “for many issues it’s not complicated. “, she adds.
- “Just because something is an expected physiological change doesn’t mean you have to live with it,” Winter adds. “I wear glasses. I guess I was genetically programmed to walk through walls. I don’t want to live that way.”
State of play: The recent wave of entrants into women’s digital health includes Evernow, a digital menopause pharmacy, Awesome Woman, a home diagnostics and telehealth company, and Lorals, a startup that makes drug-approved underwear. FDA designed to protect against infections transmitted through oral sex.
- Yet few function as a “safe place for women to address their sexual health issues in both medical and psychological settings,” says Gigi Engle, a certified sex educator and author.
And after: Los Angeles-based Pique is building a network of community providers so he can refer patients whose needs go beyond the confines of a digital platform.
- Further on the horizon: reach out to additional groups, such as postpartum women and young women.
- “It’s about more than just having good sex,” Busick says. “It’s health and the human connection.”