Valentina Milanova, founder of gynecological health company Daye, had her first painful period when she was nine years old. This led to her being put on hormonal contraception when she was just 11. Later, she was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a hormonal disorder that creates small cysts on the ovaries and an irregular menstrual cycle. But finding help was a challenge for her.
“I always found the experience around seeking gynecological health or obtaining gynecological health really far and disempowering,” Milanova said in an interview.
It was with this in mind that she decided to start London-based Daye in 2017. With $11.5 million in Series A funding, the company is launching in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2023. Daye sells to consumers and employers, and offers products for period pain, at-home vaginal screening and vaginal infections. It is also focused on gynecological health research and education.
MassMutual chose to invest in Daye because of its work in improving women’s health, an area that is generally swept to the side, said Ryan Collins, managing director of the investor.
“With its novel and differentiated products and services, Daye is raising the bar for feminine care and women’s health — a market segment that has long been overlooked when it comes to investment in innovative, effective, and sustainable solutions,” Collins said in a news release.
With the money, Daye is looking to reach more people with its products and services, whether that’s in the U.S., U.K. or Europe, Milanova said. The company will also invest in research for gynecological health, focusing on conditions like endometriosis, PCOS and menopause.
“We hope that Daye can be the type of organization that has commercially successful products, which bring in revenues that we can continually reinvest to plug the many gaps that exist within women’s health today,” Milanova said.
Daye started by offering CBD-coated tampons, which offer pain relief for periods. However, it also sells non-coated tampons. One pack of 18 tampons costs $21.96, though consumers can sign up for different subscription types to receive up to 20% off. In addition, the company sells probiotics to enhance users’ gut and vaginal health. This sells at $39.95 for a container, but consumers can save up to 25% through its various subscription options.
The startup also recently launched a vaginal microbiome screening to help people understand their own fertility, their risk of vaginal infections and other complications. The test takes a sample using a tampon, and Daye hopes to launch a similar test for STI and HPV screenings down the line, Milanova said.
Additionally, the startup is looking to launch a digital platform for gynecological health in the future, which will help women manage symptoms for conditions like endometriosis, PCOS and menopause, Milanova added.
Other companies in the gynecological health space include big names like Tampax and Procter & Gamble, as well as startups like Unfabled and Allara Health. But like many other startup entrepreneurs, Milanova sought to downplay the idea of competition and instead focus on innovation in a space that is badly in need of some new thinking.
“The concept of competition is a very old school, male-dominated concept of how to do business,” she said. “I think gynecological health is an area that could really benefit from a sense of unity and companies and organizations coming together to enhance gynecological health outcomes.”
Photo credit: Andrii Shyp, Getty Images