Mar 9, 2022 - Economy

Scoop: Reproductive health startup readies for delivery

Illustration of a stork carrying a bag of money.

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Reproductive support startup Noula Health raised $1.4 million in pre-seed funding led by Muse Capital and Precursor Ventures, founder Noelle Acosta tells Axios.

Why it matters: Women entrepreneurs in charge of women's health-focused startups are garnering increased attention from investors and the wider public in recent years, after centuries of inequity.

  • After nearly two years leading business development at buzzy fertility startup Maven Clinic, Acosta has now delivered her own venture.
  • Women of color have faced even deeper institutional inequality compared with white women, and the round makes Acosta one of fewer than 100 Latina founders to have raised more than $1 million, according to a 2020 report from ProjectDiane.
  • "The people who usually come to me about a women’s digital health startup are white men," says Shereese Maynard, a health tech strategist who focuses on women's health. "So my first thought was, 'Good job, maybe we’re moving the needle a little bit.’"

Details: In addition to Muse and Precursor, other Noula investors include Crista Galli Ventures, Visible Hands VC, and angel backers Jill Koziol, the founder and CEO of Motherly, and Alex Cohen, the director of product at hybrid primary care clinic Carbon Health.

How it'll work: Due this Spring, Noula will offer users a $99 monthly subscription for its services, which will be available in English and Spanish.

  • Those services include a virtual care platform, home diagnostics for hormones and vitamin levels, access to health coaches and personalized nutrition and lifestyle advice.
  • Nutrition recommendations will take into account users' cultural backgrounds, Acosta says; home test results will be reviewed by physicians through Noula's lab kit partner.
  • "We see ourselves as a pioneer in culturally competent health care at home," says Acosta.

What they're saying: Investors and industry observers see potential in Noula to boost access to information about women's health and partner with other companies in the sector, such as pregnancy startup Hey Mami, for example.

  • Acosta "comes from Maven and has that consumer health care background — that was our strongest conviction point," says Maria De Santis, principal at Muse Capital.
  • De Santis' investment is also somewhat rare for the firm, which doesn't often invest in pre-seed rounds. "We do that when we find an incredible founder addressing a large unaddressed market," DeSantis adds.
  • "Noula's convenience is definitely a plus," says Maynard. "Innovation should be seamless and not require extra effort."

Context: Acosta tells Axios that despite experience working at "great companies with great insurance," she encountered multiple barriers to getting the care she needed — particularly when it came to reproductive and women's health issues.

  • "Every provider I saw was dismissive," says Acosta. "I spent months trying to self-diagnose."
  • Noula is designed to help women and birthing parents in a proactive, rather than reactive, way, Acosta adds. "We want to be that personalized partner in your reproductive health journey."
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