Fertifa secures £1 million Seed investment from Passion Capital

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Fertifa, named after its mission of providing “Fertility For All”, today announces it has secured £1 million in financing from venture capital firm, Passion Capital, and strategic angel investors to reinforce its leadership position as the UK’s leading reproductive healthcare and fertility benefits provider. The Company already collaborates with market-leading partners bringing its services to more than 700,000 UK employees.

The new round of funding will accelerate Fertifa’s growth in the UK and Europe while enhancing the Company’s tech-enabled platform – a digital portal for patients to access innovative, telehealth solutions designed to offer holistic, patient-centric care.

The global fertility services market is expected to rise from its initial estimated value of $20 million in 2018 to an estimated value of $41 million by 20261. Employer funded fertility treatment is increasingly commonplace in the US while the UK is lagging behind, Fertifa provides a timely solution.

“Today marks the beginning of National Fertility Awareness week – an opportune moment to reflect on the impact that fertility challenges are having on people worldwide,” comments Tony Chen, Founder and CEO of Fertifa. “Fertility challenges affect one in six couples in the UK. That’s 3.5 million people2. Furthermore, one in four women experience a miscarriage3, every LGBT+ employees requires support to become a parent and women are increasingly empowered to take control of the reproductive health through fertility preservation treatment.”

2020 has been a challenging year, and the pandemic has exacerbated an already stressful situation for the thousands of employees across the UK that are undergoing fertility treatment.

The latest ESHRE (European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology) study shows that the virus has had a negative impact on fertility treatment for the majority (92%) of patients, specifically because of treatment delays, where 81.6% of tests or treatments were postponed4. Four in five participants felt uncertainty over their treatments and the unknown impacts of the pandemic, such as on pregnancy outcomes and gynaecology services.

“The issue of fertility health is sadly neglected in the workplace in the UK – despite the fact that, in general, people say that having children is the most important decision of their lives. Improving the nation’s knowledge of fertility and reproductive health is essential, and Fertifa and Fertility Network UK provide some great tools to enable this in the workplace,” added Gwenda Burns, Chief Executive of Fertility Network UK

Employee wellbeing has risen to the top of the corporate agenda – and no existing health benefit suitably covers fertility and reproductive health. Given the impact on every pillar of wellbeing (financial, mental and physical), a comprehensive fertility benefit really is the missing piece of the employee health and wellbeing puzzle. Fertifa exists to break down the taboo, providing a holistic corporate solution to fill this gap in.

As a digital, next-generation fertility clinic, Fertifa’s mission is to provide accessible and affordable treatment that focuses on quality patient-centric care, clinical excellence and maximising clinical pregnancy rates.

Through working closely with clinics across the UK, the Company is able to provide direct care and support to employees – rather than simply being a broker or part of the referral system. For companies, Fertifa provides education, empowerment and the opportunity for employers to fund fertility treatment – such as IVF or egg freezing – for their employees. Every aspect of the benefits package maximises employee wellbeing and provides family-friendly support.

Employees have access to a suite of tech-enabled, digital health solutions. Through Fertifa, employees get a dedicated fertility advisor that they can message at any time, video consultations, at-home hormone and sperm testing kits, and drug delivery solutions. Over time, Fertifa’s in-house medical experts also continue to develop the utilisation of Artificial Intelligence to make seamless and relevant clinical decisions – all designed to reduce clinic visits, enhance the patient experience and encourage better clinical pregnancy rates.

“Even before the pandemic, employers of all sizes have been seeking flexible and focused wellbeing solutions responsive to their business needs. Fertifa’s benefits programme is an ideal platform and solution that meets this,” said Eileen Burbidge, Partner at Passion Capital, who has been public about her own personal experiences with IVF and reproductive health. She and Passion Capital Partner Malin Posern both join the company board in support of the company and its ambitions. Together they continued, “We’re thrilled to support the Fertifa team as it further develops its telehealth proposition and continues to provide a benefit that allows any employee access to affordable and accessible fertility care.”

About Fertifa

Fertifa is the UK’s leading fertility benefits provider for employers, offering solutions designed to improve employee wellbeing and corporate social responsibility whilst breaking the fertility taboo. Through innovative, patient-centric benefits, the Company offers solutions to improve productivity, employee retention and meet the needs of various working groups – such as Women at Work and LGBT+ employees.

Fertifa provides quality, patient-centric care, excellent success rates and mentorship throughout every fertility journey – all delivered through a digital platform designed to reduce stress and maximise support.

www.fertifa.com

Tony Chen, Founder & CEO
E: [email protected]
T: +44 7414 549531

  • *1 Pharmiweb *Fertility Network UK *3 Tommy’s
  • *4 European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology

Question and Answers

Tony, why did you start Fertifa? (personal story always works best)  

From my own experience, going through a miscarriage with my wife in our late 20s followed by a series of pregnancy bumps, and recently advised to conduct an invasive test on the 32nd week, which we declined with little hesitation. Now 2 weeks to go, we are equally excited and nervous and hope for a healthy baby. 

These experiences make me realise 1) Reproductive health and fertility is complex and individualised. It affects a wider age group than what people thought. We’re both young and generally fit but still face a lot of unexplained. 2) The society and workplace today still place too much pressure on women when it comes to reproductive health and fertility, especially when things go wrong. It’s also supposed to be men’s matter/can be caused by male. It’s a fundamental human being issue. We need to create more support for women but equally we need to realise it also adversely affects men’s wellbeing and couple relationships when we face challenges together.

Why is now the right time to build a platform such as Fertifa?

The current crisis is having a profound effect on employees’ health and wellbeing and for those employees going through or seeking fertility treatment the pressures are amplified. Timing is crucial and delaying fertility treatments, or any family-building option, for 6 months or a year can mean the difference between having a child and not having a child. 

The latest ESHRE (European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology) report shows that the coronavirus has had a negative impact on fertility treatment for the majority (92%) of patients, specifically because of treatment delays, where 81.6% of tests or treatments were postponed. Four in five participants felt uncertainty over their treatments and the unknown impacts of the pandemic, such as pregnancy outcomes and gynaecology services. Although most UK fertility services have now started to resume, significant doubts remain in the minds of fertility experts about the delivery of fertility care, both short-term and in the future.

In addition, we are living and will continue to be, in a social distancing environment for some time. This will undoubtedly make it harder for single people to find their right partners and further exacerbate a late family demographic trend. Reproductive health no longer applies only to those facing challenges, but also, crucially, for those who are not yet on the road to conception. A group strongly advised to proactively monitor their health whilst they still have options.        

Fertility is often portrayed as a female problem. But it’s not. How big is the market size actually? Please add as much stats as possible. 

You’re absolutely right. 40% of all fertility problems are due to male factor1. LGBT+ employees also require support to become a parent, either through donor conception or via adoption or surrogacy. Same sex couples make up 6.4% of all patients having fertility treatment in the UK2.

It also applies to single people. Women are increasingly empowered to take control of their reproductive health through fertility preservation treatment – and the latest UK data shows that there was a 240% increase in egg freezing cases in between 2013 and 20183. A study shows that 88% of women indicated “lack of a partner” as a reason, while only 24% indicated “professional reasons4, as a result of the late-family demographic trend. 

The global fertility services market is expected to rise from its initial estimated value of $20 million in 2018 to an estimated value of $41 million by 20265

How do you see this (fertility benefits) landscape in the UK, Europe, and the US? 

Across corporate America, fertility benefit programmes have become a must-have benefit. A survey by Willis Towers Watson – one of the leading global benefit consulting firms – identified that around two thirds of US employers with over 100 employees offered fertility benefits in 20196.

Reproductive healthcare and fertility benefits aren’t just in demand in the USA. In 2019, LinkedIn undertook some research into the demand for reproductive health benefits in the UK. 66% of UK employers think that fertility support in the workplace should be considered a statutory right and 82% said their organisation is expecting to add to their fertility benefits programmes in 20207. In the same year, a Willis Towers Watson survey found that one third of UK young workers believe fertility benefits, such as egg freezing and subsidised IVF treatment, should be offered by employers8. Despite an increasing demand from employers and employees in the UK and Europe, there is a very limited solution in the market. We’ll expect to see a pick up in this region over the coming 3 to 5 years. 

What are some of the main reasons employers are implementing solutions such as yours, now more than ever?

From exhaustion to social isolation, COVID-19 has made employers focus on the importance of health and wellbeing at work. Now, as we enter the second wave of the pandemic, the need for companies to support their employees is greater than ever. Many organizations are taking the opportunity to review existing benefit schemes to ensure they are offering cost efficient solutions that provide maximum value.

Reproductive health and fertility is one area that can be hugely impactful. Fertility challenges can cause significant emotional and physical strain, with every 1 in 6 U.K. couples affected, plus many single people and members of the LGBT community. Fertility journeys are often complex and expensive, and the COVID-19 pandemic has reduced access to treatment nationally. 

Can you walk us through the customer journey with your platform – how can one use it? How can someone join? Is it primarily B2B platform or B2B2C?

As a digital, next-generation fertility clinic, Fertifa’s mission is to provide accessible and affordable treatment that focuses on quality patient-centric care, clinical excellence and maximising clinical pregnancy rates. 

 Through working closely with top clinics across the UK, the Company is able to provide direct care and support to employees – rather than simply being a broker or part of the referral system. As a digital end care provider, we leverage our in-house medical expertise and telehealth innovation to handhold our patients from day one to post-treatment. From at-home diagnostic testing, remote video consultation to drug delivery, we make sure our patients get what they need from safety and comfort of their homes. Our doctors, nurses and fertility advocates work closely together to provide patients with seamless 1-1 care anytime, anywhere.

On the employer side we have a full employer portal as well which provides educational resources, support options and access to services for HR/People teams to use and share with their workforces. 

What is the USP of your platform compared to some other solutions out there?

We believe three things matter the most in the space of healthcare, and reproductive health and fertility is not an exception – outcomes, experience, cost. As an end care provider, we leverage both in-house medical expertise and telehealth to be able to make a real impact on all three. We’re also a team of HR and benefits professionals who have been through fertility journey so when it comes to understanding and implementing corporate benefits solution, we tailor our solution to corporate client needs.

Tell us about the fundraising journey during the pandemic – what’s your experience? How did you find your investors and how much did you raise?

Launched product and subsequently fundraised during the pandemic is challenging for most early-stage startups. We focused a lot on business development during the summer and are proud to quickly make significant tractions. We’re lucky in a way that within 2 months of proactively raising from September, we get to close the round of £1 million, led by Passion Capital. Eileen Burbidge is truly an inspiration, for her passion from her own fertility experiences and expertise in this area being one of the earliest angel investors in fertility investing. We were connected by one of our angel investors and chemistry has been there from day 1 meeting to the closing, all happened within 4 weeks. 

FemTech is a big thing now. Would you say that it was easier or harder for you to raise the round having in mind the rise of the femtech innovation?

I’d say it’s definitely a good sign given the whole Femtech ecosystem is still at a relatively early stage. The market is so big that it won’t be a monopoly market but likely ends up with a few major players (oligopoly market). Competition is healthy and proposition is the key.  

What’s the feedback from users and from the investors when they try out the product, so far?

The feedback has been encouraging and positive from both employers and employees. To give you an example, within 4 hours of an email solus sending out 3 weeks ago, we have 155 employees approaching us. The patient-centric approach is what the users like to most so far. From employer perspective, our bespoke corporate programme which addresses demographics and budget, appeals to them the most.

What’s next for Fertifa?

Fertifa aims to further develops its telehealth and tech proposition and continues to expand its client base geographically that allows any employee access to affordable and accessible fertility care

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4691969/
  2. https://www.hfea.gov.uk/about-us/publications/research-and-data/family-formations-in-fertility-treatment-2018/
  3. https://www.hfea.gov.uk/about-us/publications/research-and-data/fertility-treatment-2018-trends-and-figures
  4. https://www.gwern.net/docs/genetics/selection/2013-hodeswertz.pdf
  5. Pharmiweb
  6. https://www.willistowerswatson.com/en-US/news/2018/01/two-thirds-of-employers-expect-to-offer-fertility-benefits-by-2019
  7. https://www.hrmagazine.co.uk/article-details/fertility-support-should-be-a-statutory-right-say-hrs
  8. https://www.wtw-healthandbenefits.co.uk/news/fertility-treatments
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Safiya Marzook

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