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Exclusive: Frame Fertility raises $2.8M seed

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Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Reproductive support startup Frame Fertility raised $2.8 million in seed funding, CEO and co-founder Jessica Bell van der Wal tells Axios exclusively.

Why it matters: As fertility startups garner increased attention from investors and the wider public, a flock of companies is emerging that is focused on identifying reproductive issues early and recognizing fertility as one component of overall wellness.

  • In addition to women, Frame says it offers care to "anyone who might want kids," including groups often overlooked by the mainstream medical system when it comes to fertility, including men and people who identify as LGBTQIA.

Context: Frame isn't the only company with a focus on inclusion.

  • Noula Health, which recently raised $1.4 million in pre-seed funding, focuses on culturally competent care and offers its services in English and Spanish, Axios reported exclusively.

Details: Looking Glass Capital led the seed round. Flare Capital Partners, Great Oaks Venture Capital, Healthworx and Brand Foundry Ventures joined.

  • Individual investors from a crop of other digital health startups also participated in the round, including Headspace Health chief marketing officer Christine Hsu Evans, Everly Health CEO Julia Cheek, and Giovanni Colella, the founder of Castlight, OODA and Brightline Health.

How it works: Frame is employer- and provider-facing. Its users:

  • First receive a fertility score — generated by its algorithm, which ingests factors including medical and family history, reproductive health, lifestyle, finances and partner information (if applicable).
  • Next, they are paired with a coach and given a care plan.
  • Frame also helps connect users to providers, employer benefits, products and educational tools via partnerships with companies including home testing company Everly Health, fertility financing startup Sunfish and meal delivery service Territory Foods.  
  • "We built this product because it would have helped us," Bell van der Wal, who went through infertility struggles with her husband and chief product officer Corey van der Wal, tells Axios.

What they're saying: Analysts and experts say companies like Frame are taking a well-researched approach, appropriately targeting people earlier in life — but said challenges include the current medical system.

  • Frame "seems to have found a sweet spot where it can act as a resource and coach for those in the planning stage," says Shereese Maynard, a health tech strategist who focuses on women's health.
  • But "thinking preventively about fertility is not intuitively how people or the medical system treat it currently," says women's health investor Leslie Schrock. "It should be the standard of care but is going to take a lot of time to educate people."

Yes, and: Experts also said they'd like to see more evidence of how their offering can help people of color — particularly Black women, who are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than white women.

  • "I would love to see how this solution can mitigate some of the issues associated with Black maternal mortality," Maynard added.

What's next: Frame's next moves include:

  • Building a user advisory board that's representative of the populations it aims to serve.
  • Exploring its potential to partner with a company who offers preconception genetic carrier screenings.
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