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The company also announced the launch of its Maven Wallet payments product
Women make up more than half the U.S. population, yet many still lack a solution that gives them full access to healthcare. That's especially true when it comes to having children, which involves not only processes like IVF and family planning before the baby is born, but years of pediatric care afterwards.
"If you look at some of the statistics, 43 percent of new moms drop out of the workforce after having kids. Our maternal mortality rate is the highest of any developed country and one out of eight families suffer from infertility issues. All of those issues are pretty stark, and we don't have a healthcare system that is built to accommodate a lot of those needs," Kate Ryder, founder & CEO at Maven told me in an interview.
Maven is a company focused on providing women with an end-to-end solution for their healthcare. The impetus came from when Ryder's friends began having children, and would tell her about the issues they would face.
"When I started Maven six years ago, it was when my friends first starting having kids. I was on group texts with my best friends learning about what really happens to you when you start a family and have kids. I now have two kids myself, so I've gone through the system in that way. The world needs a big company really focused on some of these issues because they've haven't been baked into traditional care models," she said.
On Wednesday, Maven announced it raised $45 million in Series C funding, bringing its total funding to $88 million. The round was led by Icon Ventures, with participation from existing investors Sequoia, Oak HC/FT, Spring Mountain Capital, Female Founders Fund, Harmony Partners, and individual strategic investors Reese Witherspoon, Natalie Portman, Mindy Kaling, and Anne Wojcicki.
Witherspoon, Portman and Kaling had invested in the company's Series B in 2018, but their involvement is only now being announced. They became involved in Maven through Sequoia partner Jess Lee, who is a board member at Maven, as well as being the founder of All Raise, which is helping empower women in venture capital industry. All Raise has a partnership with Times Up, which is an organization to helps empower women in the film industry, and which Witherspoon, Portman and Kaling are a part of.
"It's an amazing collection of powerful women coming around the support women's health. So, we're really thrilled to have them as investor. They all have doctors and providers in their families as well, so they have a personal passion for women's health," said Ryder.
Creating an end-to-end solution for women's health
Founded in 2014, Maven provides programs around aspects of women's healthcare such as preconception, egg freezing, IVF, adoption, surrogacy, pregnancy, returning to work and pediatrics, as well as programs for partners of people going through pregnancy or IVF. The company then sells these digital programs to both employers and health plans to roll out to their members.
While it doesn't have its operate its own physical clinics, Maven does have a network of fertility clinics that it partners with that it then directs patients to, as well as a preferred network of OBGYNs with high quality metrics and high satisfaction rates.
A big part of Maven focus is providing access through its telemedicine services, which includes doctors, as well as specialists in areas such as lactation consultants, genetic counselors and pediatric occupational therapists. These healthcare professionals can help with the entire pregnancy process, from thinking about starting a family to family planning to pregnancy to recovering from having a baby to going back to work, and then early pediatrics as well.
It also helps its patients with navigation, providing a 24/7 care advocate who can help them with things like understanding what’s covered, how to get the care they need, how to find a doctor and how to find a fertility clinic.
The idea behind Maven, Ryder explained is to take an industry that's fragmented and to create a solution that puts it all under one umbrella, helping women from when they decide to start a family, all the way through after the baby is actually born.
"I can tell you, even from my own personal experience, I had a great OBGYN when I was going through pregnancy but I got sciatica. I didn’t have physical therapist, my doctor didn't know anyone, there was no one available in my insurance network for two months for me to see," she said.
"Using Maven in that scenario, you get same day care, you talk to the specialists you need, they help you come up with the treatment plan, they figure out how to help you navigate the in-person world, they teach you stretches you can at home at night to relieve some of the pain. There was technically a women’s health physical therapist covered in my network, but I couldn’t access them for two months and that couldn't help me solve my problem."
Over the last twelve months, Maven has tripled its client base to include partnerships with clients from over 100 companies globally, across the Fortune 50 and representing every industry. The company's network now includes 1,700 providers across more than 20 specialties.
Maven Wallet launch
The latest round of funding will be used to invest in Maven's digital programs across fertility, maternity, return-to-work, and pediatrics, as well as expanding into adjacent areas.
That can means the company will be going deeper into healthcare services, such as Maven Pediatrics, an expansion of the company's pediatrics services beyond age 1, which it will be launching later this year. It might also include things outside of healthcare; for example, the company launched manager training as a part of its return to work program in 2017, as well as Maven Milk, which is its breast milf shipping product.
In addition to the funding announcement, Maven also announced the launch of Maven Wallet, a tool that members use to get reimbursed for their fertility, adoption, egg freezing, surrogacy and IVF payments.
"The reason that we launched that is simply that, if a company has IVF benefits through their traditional carriers, so Anthem or UHC, they still don't necessarily have a great system set up for adoption, egg freezing, surrogacy, or those people who go through IVF who aren't medically pre-authorized to access the benefits, Ryder explained.
“What we’ve seen is that when you bring all of these things under one roof, whether it’s emotional support around infertility, whether it’s the payments, whether just second opinions from reproductive endocrinologists, the guidance to high quality fertility clinics, it’s that picture of solving the end-to-end needs. So, for a time that is really stressful and uncertain for the patient who is also likely holding down a job, that they don't have to think about anything, everything is running through Maven."
A fast growing space
Maven is one of a number of women's health startups to raise funding lately, in a space that is growing quickly within the healthtech vertical: while funding for women's health startups has traditionally lagged behind, it has recently started to boom, with $177 million raised across 10 deals in the third quarter of last year. Other companies that raised funding in 2019 included Cleo, a parenthood transition startup, which raised $27.5 million; online prescription delivery company The Pill Clib, which raised $51 million; and Nurx, an on-demand birth control delivery company that prescribes contraceptives through its app, which raised $52 million.
On the one hand, Ryder doesn't see women's health are being just a part of healthtech, but instead as being fundamental to the entire space.
"My vision is very clear: women’s health is not a niche, and it's not some vertical within healthcare; it's actually the core of the healthcare system. I would like to see, over the next five, 10, 20 years, that there's no question that if you want a functional healthcare system, you must invest in women and families because that's where you get leverage and that's where you can trickle down effects across all the rest of healthcare," she said.
"Oftentimes, younger people aren't healthcare consumers until they think about starting a family. A lot of Millennials don't have PCPs, and a lot of people, if you're relatively healthy, you can stay as far away from healthcare as possible. But then, when you start a family, that's where you're thrown into system and you emerge on the other side as not only caring for yourself, but caring for your family. So, getting this part of healthcare right should the central strategy for every major healthcare organization. So that is where I hope the industry goes."
Still, when it comes to infusion of funding into women's health startups, she also told me that she is "thrilled that it's moved so quickly," especially given how hard it was for Maven to raise funding not all that long ago.
"When we started six years ago, this wasn't yet a category. I was endlessly rejected by venture capitalists saying, 'This is too small of an industry,' or 'If we invest in you then how will you get your next round of funding because no one invests in women's health. So, I'm so thrilled that it's now such a large part of the conversation and in such a short amount of time."
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