🤝 Situational Awareness: Erin will moderate a live webinar and panel discussion Wednesday on the findings of the annual SVB report on healthcare investing. Carolyn Ng of TPG Life Sciences, Julie Yoo of Andreessen Horowitz and Jon Norris of SVB. Switch.
1 big thing: investor dollars from fertility technology banks
Fertility technology startups are in the midst of a funding frenzy that will place the category among the sixth most funded treatment industries by 2022, according to Rock Health.
Why it matters: Demand for fertility services is on the rise, and its increasingly opaque and inaccessible nature has left room for nimble, technology-forward companies scrambling to fill the gaps, Erin writes.
Send the news: Several harsh realities about family planning and fertility have been thrust into the spotlight in recent years:
- The economics of infertility treatment remain very opaque, and insurance coverage varies wildly by state and provider.
- The fertility industry is deeply unfair and disproportionately affects LGBTQ, low-income, and people of color.
- The overturn of Roe v. Wade allowed states to pursue reproductive health legislation that could pose challenges for patients and caregivers in states such as Arizona, Florida, Louisiana and Tennessee.
What they say: Employers, entrepreneurs and investors tell Axios that they value their role more than ever, with startups responding to employer demands by expanding their offerings to include reproductive care.
- “We believe the ability to raise a family is a fundamental human right,” said Sunfish CEO Angela Rastegar.
- “Women want control because it’s so limited,” Lori Evans Bernstein, the CEO of Caraway, a virtual women’s health startup, told Axios last fall.
- “Traditional reproductive endocrinology practices are the closest to what we do, but they just aren’t able to serve enough patients,” said Amy Zwanziger, the CEO of a startup called Turtle Health that offers at-home fertility testing.
- “Tackling infertility requires innovations that lead to more inclusive – and ultimately more effective – family care,” said Lux Capital partner Deena Shakir.
By the numbers: Fertility startups earned a record $424 million in the last quarter of 2021, according to a report from Rock Health. In the meantime:
Zoom in: As valuations of existing reproductive health companies soar, new startups scramble to fill existing care gaps. For instance:
- Sunfish Technologies, a company that provides financial support for egg freezing and IVF, premiered a $3.8 million seed round this month.
- Maternity care provider Oula raised $19.1 million in Series A funds this month for a hybrid model that unites midwives and obstetricians.
- Maven Clinic, the first maternal and family health start-up to achieve coveted unicorn status, raised $90 million in Series E funds in November.
- Posterity Health, a provider of digital male fertility treatments, raised $7.5 million in seed funding this month.
- Turtle Health, which attempts to replicate a full-fledged at-home fertility evaluation, debuted in December with $5.4 million in seed funding.
- Legacy, a celebrity-backed sperm testing and storage startup, poured $25 million into Series B funds in May at a valuation of $150 million.
- Combining fertility financing and care support, Future Family raised $25 million in Series B funding in April at a valuation of $80 million.
Yes but: While many of the industry’s companies focus on women and their reproductive systems, half of all infertility cases involve problems related to sperm, says Sophia Yen, a clinical associate professor at Stanford and CEO of Pandia Health, the telehealth company for women.
- “This isn’t just an issue heterosexual women should be concerned about,” said Khaled Kteily, CEO of Legacy.