Sexual healthcare company TBD Health raises $4.4M

Steven Loeb · January 31, 2023 · Short URL:

The company offers at-home STI tests, telemedicine appointments, and in-person care

More than 1 million sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are acquired every day worldwide, the majority of which are asymptomatic. Every year, there are around 374 million new infections, and STIs are the number one cause of preventable infertility in the US.

Yet, most people don't even know that STIs and fertility are linked, let alone how damaging hey can be, said Stephanie Estey, co-founder and co-CEO of sexual healthcare provider TBD Health

It was that lack of knowledge, along with a lack of access, that led to Estey and her co-founder Daphne Chen to found TBD, which provides at-home STI testing, as well as remote and in-person care.

"Both Daphne and I had experiences where we struggled to find really great sexual health. Particularly in college, as well as in our early 20s, we had moments of panic or moments when we weren't sure what to do and we weren't sure where to turn to. So, we often turned to each other and were each other's sounding board when it came to the tricky sexual health questions," said Estey.

"We talked to our friends and strangers and realized there is this big disconnect between sexual health and and how people are getting their sexual health. Sex and how sex is happening is really changing, relationships are changing, how people have sex is changing, but healthcare has not kept up."

TBD's goal is to create a non-judgmental sex positive sexual health experience, and now it has $4.4 million in seed funding to put make that vision a reality. The round of funding was led by Tusk Venture Partners, with participation from Springdale Ventures, Human Ventures, Expansion VC, Starbloom Capital, Hyphen Capital, and The Community Fund along with several strategic angels. 

While the New York City-based company is starting with STI screening, TBD thinks of itself as a sexual healthcare company: the New York City-based company deploys a hybrid model of care, including its in-person hub in Las Vegas and its virtual care that it will be able to offer in all 50 states now that it has this new funding. 

Users who sign up for TBD take an at-home STI test; if they test positive, or if they have questions, then they are automatically connected with a TBD clinical care provider on a telemedicine call, who will review their tests results and walk them through the next steps. The company also provides medication for both the patient and their partners. The company also sends emergency contraception to users in all 50 states, something it launched shortly after Roe was overturned last year.

"Wherever we offer testing, we also have to have a clinical care team because the two go hand in hand. That care piece is very much intertwined with the testing piece. We had to navigate regulatory hurdles and clinical challenges to make sure that we were able to operate in all 50 states and we're very proud that we're able to expand access," said Estey.

A big part of what makes TBD different, she explained, is that it takes a very sex positive, non-judgmental approach that the user is meant feel end to end.

"From the moment you get a kit, or you're on our website, you know that you won't be judged. We're taking a very human centered design approach. It’s not meant to feel clinical, it's not meant to feel cold, it's really meant to feel like you're doing a good thing and having this human approachable experience," Estey said.

That sentiment is also echoed in its aftercare as well: all of the clinicians on TBD are sensitivity trained, sex positive, and non-judgmental. They all go through a screening process that includes multiple rounds of interviews with the co-founders of TBD, as well as with the existing clinical team, to  make sure that they are comfortable serving everyone and talking about gender inclusive care; that means making sure that they're comfortable with LGBTQ+ populations to ensure that they're culturally competent and aware. The company also does training around sex positivity and what inclusive care actually means.

"You know that when you come to TBD you will not be judged on how many partners you have, or how you have sex, or be asked any of those kinds of stigmatizing questions. It's our job at TBD just to make sure that however you like to have sex that you're doing that in the most healthy way possible, and that's what that's what we're really proud to empower," she explained.

So far, TBD has served thousands of patients; while the company started off as being geared towards women and people with vaginas, it opened up to both sexes about a year ago, and now it currently split roughly about equally between male and female users.

Going forward, the company plans to expand its offerings within sexual wellness and to launch partnerships with employers, universities, and other digital health companies in the coming year. It also plans to launch new in-person care sights beyond the one it currently has in Las Vegas, though Estey was not give more details about that the moment. 

"What we've noticed with our care hub is that we can create this relationship of trust with the customer that's really unparalleled, and very unique in a way that is very different from what we can do digitally and online. That's one of the reasons why we are really excited about this hybrid model: no matter how you feel comfortable getting your sexual healthcare, or however you want that experience to be, it's our job at TBD to be there so that you can have the best experience. COVID was great for us ushering this new digital atmosphere, but at the same time you can't do everything digitally, either," she said.

At the end of the day, though, TBD really wants to be someone's trusted partner in their sexual health and really be somewhere that people feel safe and supported and comfortable seeking sexual healthcare. Even the name the name TBD, which stands for "to be determined," gets to the heart of what the company wants to be to its members. 

"The reason why we chose TBD is that, at the end of the day, your sexual health care is a journey. It's not a one point in time type of thing and TBD recognizes that we're on that journey with you," she said. 

"We're really proud to be starting that journey. It's something that is critically needed, particularly now, given Roe being overturned. There's a lot more questions in sexual healthcare and TBD wants to be that ultimate place where you can go and find a safe partner." 

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