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Exclusive: Needed births $14M for perinatal nutrient support

Illustration of four toy blocks with symbols of a check mark, a pregnant person, a heart, and a baby.

Illustration: Victoria Ellis/Axios

Perinatal supplement startup Needed raised $14 million to study pregnant people's nutritional needs, co-CEOs Julie Sawaya and Ryan Woodbury tells Axios exclusively.

Why it matters: The supplement industry is poorly regulated and very little research has been done on the nutritional needs surrounding pregnancy.

How it works: Los Angeles-based Needed sells supplements it says support egg and sperm quality, lactation, stress, sleep, and hydration.

  • "We have a team of practitioners combing through the research and aggregating insights from their practices and that of their peers to find out what's supportive and safe," says Woodbury.
  • Sawaya and Woodbury are certified nutritionists, they tell Axios.

Zoom in: Via its research arm, Needed Labs, Woodbury and Sawaya will also publish the company's first white paper this week. The pair hopes to eventually publish more research in "top tier nutritional or obstetrics journals," Woodbury says.

  • Needed Labs is "really a tool to collect data in a more friendly way so larger decision-making bodies need to start paying attention," says Woodbury.

What they're saying: "There's been a significant underfunding of women's health, both on the research and business side," says Craftory partner and Needed investor Jamie Swango, adding that Needed is the firm's first investment in the women's health sector.

Details: The Craftory led the unlabeled round.

  • Existing backers Seae Ventures and Crescent Ridge Partners joined.
  • Funds will birth new products and content and power the company's new research arm, Needed Labs.

The intrigue: Sawaya and Woodbury say they intentionally didn't label the round a Series A because they hope it is the last time they fundraise

  • "We're describing it as a growth round because we expect this to be the last round we raise prior to an eventual exit," Sawaya says.

State of play: Several other fertility-minded nutrition companies have been targets of recent venture-backed company acquisitions, but Sawaya and Woodbury say some rivals treat supplements "more as an afterthought" than a core product.

  • Home testing company Everly Health in 2021 acquired fertility testing and nutrition startup Natalist.
  • Telehealth company Ro in 2021 acquired testing and supplement startup Modern Fertility for a reported $225 million.
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