Fertility treatment today is largely a blunt object approach to a highly personal moment. It begins with a one size fits most process designed to be adjusted on the edges over a series of cycles–for most women, 3-5. The good news is that for many patients, fertility treatments, particularly IVF, are extremely effective and end in healthy live births. The bad is that many will never get far enough to find that out. 3-5 cycles is generally upwards of $75,000-$125,000 including medication, very rarely reimbursed by insurance. That also means huge doses of hormones that can be difficult to function on, dozens of specifically timed doctors appointments balanced with life demands, hundreds of self administered shots, burdensome debt to finance each cycle, and a challenging emotional rollercoaster of hope and disappointment.
While 180M women worldwide today struggle with fertility, the number is quickly ballooning, upwards of 10% YoY. The technology is in many ways incredible but to make it viable as the go-to for an increasing number of patients to have babies, it’ll have to become dramatically more accessible. The future of the industry is reliant on the invention of new technologies to make each cycle more effective and less expensive.
Paxton Maeder-York and his team share this thesis and are directly tackling it in Alife Health. From the beginning, USV has focused on the power of networks to drive significant value and create moats. By combining unique large data sets in fertility with advanced AI, Alife’s products leverage a data network to augment major pieces of human decision making with data driven insight in the fertility process. This allows doctors to use extensive patterns over millions of data points versus just their own set of learnings from their patients, and equips them to develop personalized treatment plans that create better outcomes per cycle and lower patient cost.
To start, the company is focused on ovarian stimulation (determining the drugs used for each patient to produce the largest number of high quality eggs in a cycle) and embryo selection (deciding which embryo to transfer once the eggs have been harvested and fertilized.) Alife wraps the technology in an easy-to-use software for the practitioner and an understandable interface for the patient. Now, in a highly ambiguous and emotional moment, the doctor can show their patient actual data to support the treatments they are suggesting. In the future, Alife will expand the scope of where they apply their data-driven AI within fertility, eventually working on each stage of the patient journey to completely personalize care in a cycle.
There are times when personal experience and massive market opportunity line up. After a lifelong phobia of needles (including some epic meltdowns my mother loves to reminisce about), I became a pro at mixing and self administering menopur and trigger shots in office closets, backs of ubers, and airplane bathrooms. I hated every one of them but we desperately wanted a second child (which we were lucky enough to get several cycles later in Leo, now an exceedingly delicious 1 year old who, of course, is worth it 1000 times over.) Far from unique, my experience is increasingly common. With Alife, this process of having babies will be faster, cheaper, and clearer for millions of women.
We are excited to be co-leading Alife’s $20M Series A alongside fantastic partners, friends, and inspiring moms, Deena Shakir at Lux and Anarghya Vardhana at Maveron, and to work with Paxton and his team to drive efficacy and access into the fertility market.