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Exclusive: Caraway raises $17M for telehealth abortion, gender-neutral care

Jun 20, 2023
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Caraway raised a $16.75 million Series A to expand access to medication abortion and broaden its focus from women to all members of Gen Z, CEO Lori Evans Bernstein tells Axios exclusively.

Why it matters: The raise comes as young people embrace gender diversity while facing reduced access to reproductive support — and reflects continued VC appetite for reproductive health, even as some of the sector's earliest startups flounder.

Details: Maveron and GV led the round, which comes nearly one year after the Supreme Court ended the constitutional right to abortion.

  • Previous backers 7wireVentures and Hopelab Ventures also participated and were joined by new backers Wellington Partners, Ingeborg Investments and The Venture Collective.
  • Funds will also fuel the company's expansion into six additional states — Colorado, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan and New Jersey. The company is already in California, New York, North Carolina and Ohio.
  • "Having access to abortion is life-saving," says Evans Bernstein. "It's a major health and human rights issue, and we could not be more excited to add it to our repertoire."
  • Evans Bernstein says she foresees Caraway raising again in 24 months.

How it works: With a broadened focus on young people aged 18-29, Caraway uses a team-based approach to offer virtual mental, reproductive and physical care.

  • New offerings include medication abortion — pre-Dobbs, patients were referred to other providers for abortion care.
  • Additionally, Caraway is offering estrogen-based gender-affirming hormone therapy.
  • The company isn't yet prescribing testosterone because of federal restrictions, but Evans Bernstein says the company can help coordinate patient referrals to local providers of the medication.

Plus, Caraway recently boosted the profile of its youth advisory team, which now includes roughly 100 women who help inform Caraway's offerings.

What they're saying: Advikaa Anand, a member of the advisory group and a sophomore at Duke University, says of the group: "We all agree on the fundamentals: We should have access to birth control. We should have access to abortion."

  • Anand heard about Caraway after an op-ed she wrote for the Duke Chronicle about medical gaslighting caught the attention of Caraway's director of engagement, Olivia Coletta, who reached out.
  • Anand, who hails from Mississippi, describes the group as a "network of solid young women across the country who have your back and are passionate."

Zoom in: Caraway's decision to expand its services was guided by its users and youth advisory team, says Evans Bernstein.

  • Including male-identifying people in its advisory meetings will be a decision for the team. "They wanted to be an inclusive space. They’ll decide what that means for them."
  • When asked what impact adding male-identifying individuals to the group might have,
  • Anand acknowledged the possibility that adding male-identifying individuals to the group might hamper conversation about gender bias.
  • However, she adds, "I'm sure the people who Caraway would bring on board would be attuned to these messages of gender biases and interested in bridging the gap."

Between the lines: "All our female members have led us to say, please talk about Caraway as an inclusive platform," says Evans Bernstein. "We know we as women need more services, but let's have an inclusive message."

  • Maveron partner Anarghya Vardhana says broadening Caraway's focus to all genders also makes good business sense.
  • "As Caraway signs on payers, we know it's important for them to understand the solution is comprehensive," Vardhana says.

Flashback: Caraway collected $10.5 million in seed funds on the one-month anniversary of the Dobbs decision.

  • At the time, the company was focused exclusively on young, college-enrolled women aged 18-27 and did not offer medication abortions or gender-affirming hormone therapy.

State of play: Despite tough macroeconomic conditions and an industry-wide plummet in funding for digital health, deals continue to enliven the venture-backed women's health sector. Recent activity includes:

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