October 27, 2022

Creating the next wave in women's healthcare

By
Victoria Treyger

Five years ago, women’s health went through a critical evolution when fertility care became available as an employer benefit offered by major employers. Companies like Cleo, Carrot Fertility, Future Family, Maven Clinic, Kindbody, and others developed fertility care platforms to help female employees get pregnant, manage through childbirth, and return to work. I wish these services were available when I had my daughter! These platforms were a tremendous help in guiding women in the workforce through the maze of fertility options and keeping them in the workforce after childbirth. 

VC dollars flowed into this category – fertility support startups raised $345 million in 2021, up more than two times from $133 million in funding in 2019. According to Fertility IQ’S 2020 family building workplace index, 88% of women who had IVF treatment fully paid for by their employer chose to return to that employer after maternity leave compared to 50% of the population without fertility benefits.

But what happens after women are done having children? What benefits and health care are available to help women through the changes that happen to our bodies after age 40? Today — very little.

The current healthcare system leaves 57 million American women with a variety of menopause symptoms underserved, misdiagnosed, and untreated.

We are thrilled to announce that Felicis and Semper Virens Capital are co-leading the investment in Midi Health’s $14 million series seed. Midi is the first virtual healthcare platform designed for ​​women 40+, addressing their unique needs through the two decades of hormonal transition. We are thrilled to back Midi alongside a group of visionary, predominantly female investors including Emerson Collective, Operator Collective, and Anne and Susan Wojcicki. 

Distribution is key to scalable growth

At Felicis, we have a history of investing in massive underserved categories with founders who cracked the nut on B2B2C distribution channels as a scalable way to reach consumers. We were one of the earliest VCs to invest in mental health with companies like Octave, Modern Health, Elemy, and other stealth companies that have dramatically expanded access to mental health for families. 

We believe that focusing on women in midlife is the next big category in women’s healthcare to be transformed by digital health. Midi’s CEO Joanna Strober experienced this care gap firsthand when she was unable to find help for hormonally-driven sleep disruption in her mid forties. The problem begins with a lack of education: 80% of OB-GYNs report having no training in menopause care, and most focus their practices on pregnancy and delivery. As a result, 75%of women who seek help for their menopause symptoms receive no treatment. The few specialists that exist are in high demand, resulting in 9-12 month waiting lists for self-pay services. Patients are left to suffer through hot flashes, insomnia, anxiety, depression, brain fog, memory loss, joint pain, and more. The downstream effects of untreated symptoms include a higher risk for osteoporosis, heart disease, and cognitive decline. 

But reaching millions of women at scale is challenging. Before finding Midi, we evaluated multiple companies in the space that focused on a direct to consumer approach to reach women. We have found that it is nearly impossible to rely primarily on direct to consumer paid marketing to build a scalable business.

Midi stood out because the founders invested early to build partnerships with health systems and employers. Midi’s platform was architected with health system integrations planned from day one. We have been blown away by the overwhelming interest from health systems and employers to work with Midi.

Midi will leverage the new capital to expand operations nationwide and launch partnerships with some of the largest hospital systems in the country, as well as major U.S. employers looking to foster the well-being of female employees at the height of their careers. Leading Midi’s efforts is a powerful team with deep experience in women’s health.Joanna Strober had a successful exit with a previous startup, Kurbo. Other members have held C-suite or high-level roles at Goldman Sachs, Tia, Condé Nast, and Kindbody. Midi’s clinical leadership of award-winning physicians includes Dr. Mindy Goldman of UCSF and Dr. Heather Hirsch, formerly lead physician at Brigham and Women’s hospital, part of Harvard Medical School. 

Meeting the needs of women 40+ represents a huge opportunity for digital health. Felicis is thrilled to support Midi’s mission to help them thrive at midlife.

For more on Midi, read this article in Forbes.

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