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With An $80 Million Series C, Elvie Founder Tania Boler Looks To Take Her Breast Pump Company From Cult Favorite To Mass Market


Elvie founder Tania Boler knows a thing or two about taking big swings: In 2018, she launched her company’s portable breast pump on the catwalk of the London Fashion Show. In 2019, she deployed five oversized, inflatable breasts across London to help break the stigma around breastfeeding in public. That same year, her company raised a $42 million Series B round of funding, then the largest ever raise for a female-led femtech company.

This week, Boler broke her own record: on Tuesday, Elvie announced it has secured $80 million (£58 million) in Series C funding, the biggest raise in an initial fundraise round for a female-founded femtech company. The round was led BGF, a U.K.-based growth fund, with participation from BlackRock Private Equity Partners.

“I think it just shows that finally, femtech is being taken seriously by investors,” Boler, who is also Elvie’s CEO, told Forbes over Zoom, noting that the industry is one that is poised to hit $50 billion within the next several years. “And we’re just also delighted to bring in BlackRock, which is going to bring so much experience, particularly as we go on our mission, which is basically to become the first femtech company to IPO in the next couple of years.”

It’s an ambitious goal, but Elvie’s products, the discreet breast pump and a pelvic floor trainer, have become cult favorites in the U.K. (where Elvie is based) and the U.S., and Boler says her company is on track to hit $100 million in revenue this year. She’ll use the fresh capital from the Series C to expand Elvie into 10 new markets, including Germany, Spain and China. She’s also eyeing some product expansions and broadening Elvie’s focus from the postpartum period known as the fourth trimester to other life stages, like pre-natal and post-menopausal.

“We’re basically building out that product ecosystem to to give women that go-to destination, which is actually very much what like Apple did,” Boler says. “They started very much with their hardware. And now, they have their four pillars of products, apps, services and accessories.”

Though she talks like a tech founder now, Boler admits that for most of her life, she did not dream of starting and running her own company. Instead, she’s been drawn to some of the most taboo issues in public health, getting a Ph.D in women’s health and taking jobs focused on educating populations around HIV/AIDS and access to safe abortion.

“I think if you’d asked me when I was 18, I would have said my dream job would have been working in the United Nations or CEO of Oxfam. And then I got the dream job in the United Nations,” she says. “But, to be honest, I was just so unbelievably frustrated by how slow everything is working in government, working in the public sector, working in research. And I suppose at heart, I am just very entrepreneurial, and impatient.”

Boler cofounded Elvie in 2013 (her partner was Jawbone cofounder Alexander Asseily) after learning about the prevalence of postpartum and post-menopausal pelvic floor prolapse (a condition in which the muscles of the pelvis weaken and affect the functioning of organs including the bladder and vagina, causing incontinence and pain during sex).

“One in 10 women have to have surgery in later life because of preventable pelvic floor problem,” Boler says. “That’s kind of what gets gets me angry.”

Elvie’s name was even inspired by the pelvic floor—specifically, the levator ani muscle, which both supports and raises the pelvis—and its first product was a compact trainer that can help strengthen pelvic muscles. Boler launched the trainer in a Pilates studio, correctly deducing that it would receive better reception from women who were already accustomed to thinking about and exercising their pelvic floor muscles. These early customers drove a million dollars in sales, becoming a proof of concept that Boler used to raise a $6 million Series A in 2017.

“Investors at that point said, ‘you’ve shown that you can do the really hard stuff: You’re trying to launch vagina tech products in a Pilates studio,’” Boler recalls.

Selling Kegel trainers to folks already inclined towards teasers and core-strengthening exercises, however, might seem easy in hindsight and compared with Boler’s goals for 2021 and beyond. Elvie is not the only discreet breast pump in the femtech market—companies including Medela, Willow and iAPOY have their own hands-free solutions—but Boler intends to the be the biggest.

“Within the next couple of years, there will be the first [femtech] unicorn or the first global brand. The reason I think it has to happen is because it’s crazy that hasn’t already happened,” she says. “I think there will be one one big winner and obviously I hope it’s going to be Elvie.”



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