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Exclusive: Mate Fertility raises $5M to tackle IVF provider shortage

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Provider upskilling startup Mate Fertility secured $5.2 million in Series A funds, the company tells Axios exclusively.

Why it matters: The company trains OB-GYNs in so-called fertility deserts to provide fertility services typically performed only by specialists known as reproductive endocrinologists (REIs).

Details: Led by Struck Capital, the round brings total company financing to $8 million.

  • Cortado Ventures, Oklahoma Life Sciences Fund and Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund joined alongside Vituity Health, What If Ventures, Spectra Asala/B-Side Ventures, Asymmetry Ventures, The Council, The Henry Collective, Gaingels and Bay Bridge Ventures.
  • Individual backers including Innovative Health Diagnostics CEO David White, Orchid CEO Noor Siddiqui, and Parallel Health CEO Natalise Kalea Robinson also participated.
  • Among the participants, 60% of backers in the round were women, 29% were LGBTQ+ and 30% were Black, Indigenous and people of color.
  • Funds will go toward hiring more clinicians, marketing and opening future clinics in Pittsburgh and Northern Virginia.

What's next: CEO Traci Keen foresees the company raising a Series B in roughly 18 months.

How it works: The Los Angeles-based company trains OB-GYNs located in areas with few REIs to offer services including egg retrievals and embryology services.

  • Those providers pay Mate a fee for the training; Mate takes a percentage of their clinic's top-line revenues.
  • "The retrieval is really the key piece of the skill that’s being acquired here," says Keen. "We’re not saying [OB-GYNs] should be doing this without REI supervision. We’re saying let's take data and use that to oversee what these providers are doing."

By the numbers: At Mate's flagship clinic in Oklahoma City, which opened in 2021, the average patient age is 31 (people with complex conditions such as ovarian cancer or advanced endometriosis are referred elsewhere).

  • The OB-GYNs there have conducted 219 procedures (OB-GYNs perform their first 20 egg retrievals with an REI present).
  • The clinic has delivered 20 babies.

The intrigue: Struck Capital managing partner Adam Struck says Mate's biggest headwind is pushback from REIs.

  • "We're in a sense taking market share from them and giving it to OB-GYNs — similar to what Uber did for Taxi medallions," Struck says.
  • Co-founder Gabriel Bogner acknowledges the challenge but says it's improving.
  • "When we started there was some friction in the space with that," Bogner says. "We’re not trying to steal anyone else’s piece of the pie. We're trying to make a bigger pie."
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