AgeTech Collaborative™ startup participant Joylux is on a mission to help women find delight in their lives through all phases of menopause, offering consumers high-tech devices and digital tools, along with access to menopausal education and a community of like-minded women.
To find out more about Joylux, we spent time talking with founder and CEO Colette Courtion.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Please tell us about Joylux.
Joylux is a menopausal health platform that offers digital tools and products for women who are going through the transition of menopause, which is a life stage: Generally, a woman in her 40s, and then by the time she’s in her 50s, has hit menopause — and then it’s with her forever. So we offer products including devices, consumable products and digital tools to help women with that transition. Our goal is to educate them by connecting them with other women and by having products that alleviate the symptoms of menopause.
Can you tell us a little more about your products?
Our hero product is called vFit. It’s the world's first home-use device that helps with vaginal health issues that women commonly face as they go through menopause. The medical terminology for this is genitourinary syndrome of menopause, or GSM for short. It involves the pelvic floor and vaginal health issues, such as vaginal dryness, incontinence and pain with intercourse. Over 50% of women will deal with one or more of these health issues as they’re going through menopause and later in life.
The vFit device is the core of who we are, and why we started. But we’ve grown from there and built out this platform with education as a key pillar. And we have consumable products like cleansers, lotions and other things that are geared toward women’s health — specifically women over the age of 40.
How does vFit work?
It uses innovative red and infrared light technology that helps repair the cells of our body's tissue; the cells become inflamed and lose things like collagen and elastin as we age. The device is connected to an app that both controls it and tracks women’s menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes, night sweats, brain fog and mood swings. There are currently 34 identifiable symptoms that women face when they go through menopause.
Besides helping women track those symptoms, our platform educates women on how to best manage those symptoms, and it provides access to a community of other women so they can collaborate and talk about how menopause is impacting them and share what they’re doing to improve that aspect of their lives.
What inspired you to found Joylux?
Prior to founding Joylux, I was a beauty entrepreneur in the medical esthetics space, using technology for anti-aging wrinkle reduction. When I had my first child in my early 40s, I experienced all the symptoms that come after childbirth, especially those that impact women in their 40s.
A year after giving birth, I went into perimenopause, where I started to go through the change into menopause and my estrogen dropped. So the problems I experienced as a result of childbirth escalated because I was dealing with these issues of menopause. Then I had an “Aha!” moment: In the medical esthetics space, we were using advanced laser and ultrasound technologies to rebuild collagen and elastin in the skin to tighten it up and increase natural lubrication. We were doing it “up here,” so why couldn’t we do it “down there”? And lo and behold, no one had thought of this. So I sold my beauty company and started Joylux.
What kinds of challenges have you faced as you’ve built Joylux?
The first big challenge was around fundraising for the company. I thought this would be a no-brainer: 50% of the population is female, and 50% or more of all women will have these issues — so at least 25% of the world's population will experience what our products solve for. And there's no other solution. But I quickly discovered that male investors, who are typically the ones who write the checks, are uncomfortable with the topic of women's health. They don't understand the issue.
Second, this is a taboo topic. No one talks about menopause; no one talks about vaginal health. So we had to fight, fight, fight to get our voice heard everywhere we wanted to sell our products, from social media platforms to channel partners. I never encountered that at my other companies, which were all about beauty.
I can imagine the challenges are compounded because you are a woman founder.
100% true. The reality is that of all the VC and investment money that goes to startups, female founders get less than 3%. Then you add on the complexities of our category, women’s health, and that amount drops to virtually nothing — something like $600 million, but that’s out of the billions and billions of dollars that have gone to startups. That’s nothing in light of how enormous the category of women’s health, and menopausal health in particular, can be: Targeting women over 40 is a $600 billion market opportunity.
How do you work to overcome those obstacles?
You have to have thick skin because you’ll be told no a million times. You just have to keep fighting, because at the end of the day, we’re able to make such a huge difference in women’s lives. And that is so motivating, knowing we can help women have more confidence and freedom to do the things they want in order to have a better quality of life.
Is there anything else you'd like people to know about Joylux?
Menopause is finally having a moment in terms of the media talking about it, but as a category we’re still very much in the nascent stages. We hope that a few years from now menopause will no longer be taboo, but will be something that everybody talks about all the time. Joylux is a pioneer, and we're doing a lot of great things in this space, but we still need support from the broader community of entrepreneurs and investors to raise awareness of menopause.
You can learn more about Joylux at their website.