Editor's Spotlight: Startup Focus

Female wellness startup her1 closes €5.5m funding for European expansion

By Nikki Hancocks

- Last updated on GMT

her1 inner beauty
her1 inner beauty

Related tags Female wellness Gut health microbiome Investment startups

Four-year-young Berlin-based startup her1 has just closed a Series A investment of €5.5m, bringing it closer to its ambition of becoming a leading digital health company devoted to female wellbeing.

The direct-to-consumer company provides natural and plant-based products to boost gut health and aid women’s health and beauty from within. The latest investment will enable the company to grow in the European market and develop new products that will specifically cater to hormone balance, mood, sleep, and holistic wellbeing.

Founded in 2017, her1 is the brainchild of serial FoodTech entrepreneur Chanyu Xu and the company has raised €9m in funding so far.

In the past year, the company has grown by 815% and it continues to grow by 55%, quarterly.

“My mantra for her1 is that you are what you eat and everything starts from within," ​says Xu, her1 founder and CEO. "her1 was created to accompany women through different life stages with essentially everything they need, focussing on the connection our general health and wellbeing has with what’s happening in our guts. From mood and sleep to cognitive performance and sexual wellbeing, everything is connected."

The recent funding round was led by Five Seasons Ventures​, with previous investors Rheingau Founders​ and IBB Ventures​ following on.

"With this investment and the support of Five Seasons Ventures, we’ll be introducing more products to an even wider market as we look to expand to help more women across Europe,” ​adds Xu.

The company launched its flagship product, Inner Beauty, in 2019 after over a year of research and development. The product contains over 25 billion active, natural and good microorganisms per daily serving, to support a healthy microbiome. 

her1 develops all its own products, using natural, plant-based, gluten and sugar-free blends made from locally sourced whole foods and containing prebiotics and probiotics to feed the gut microbiome.

Most recently, the company launched 'Gut One' a daily supplement targeting the gut-brain-axis with probiotics and essential b-vitamins for optimal brain and cognitive functioning, which is also available on subscription. 

Rita Ugwu, chief medical officer for her1, says: “Our microbiome is still in the early stages of research but it is currently one of the most promising and interesting research topics. The more we learn about the microbiome, the more it becomes clear that it has an essential impact on our overall health and wellbeing.

"A healthy microbiome is not only important for our digestion it also plays a central role in our mental wellbeing, immune system, skin health, and other areas. As a medical doctor, I’m motivated by the fact that we can have a holistic influence on the wellbeing of our customers through our products and help them causally from the inside out with their problems instead of just treating symptoms as in classical western medicine.”  

The global supplement market was estimated to be worth €120 billion in 2020, with an expected annual growth rate of 8.5% over the next five years. In 2020, the worldwide market for probiotic supplements used for gastrointestinal health was worth $1.1 billion and is expected to double by 2027.

Saskia Hoebée, Senior Associate at Five Seasons Ventures, adds: “her1 is our first portfolio company where the founder, the majority of the management team and a large part of the company is all-female – a true for women, by women approach!

"At Five Seasons Ventures, we were already convinced that there was a big opportunity for gut health as a large addressable market, but until we spoke with Chanyu we didn’t realise that almost twice as many women suffer from digestive health issues on a weekly basis, compared to men. We believe in her1’s vision to provide a convenient, effective and elegant remedy for an underserved market and help more women to go with their gut, focussing on health and wellness from within.”

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