So Abi, tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m the CEO and co-founder of Fertility Circle. Having worked in Healthcare Management Consulting I transitioned to become a successful tech entrepreneur, channeling my own fertility struggles into an expert-led, community app to support and empower anyone trying to conceive. I’m passionate about female empowerment, mental wellness, and the healing power of kindness.
Tell us a bit more about Fertility Circle.
We understand fertility. We’ve felt the rush of hope, and the stomach lurch of another failed cycle or pregnancy loss. Fertility Circle app connects people trying to conceive with experts, community, and emotional support.
It empowers you with resources, tutorials, and inspiration. It’s a place for virtual hugs and practical support.
We host virtual expert-led events to educate and inform, as well as a community of people that just get it. It’s like your best friend with all the fertility smarts.
What motivated you to setup Fertility Circle?
It was my own journey to motherhood that was the catalyst for Fertility Circle. I did loads of research and still ended up spending loads of money and making some really poor fertility choices, which will have lifelong consequences for me. It was traumatic and isolating. I didn’t want anyone else to have to go through that alone. When I met my co-founder Karen who had also struggled to conceive, we knew we had to act. Put simply, Fertility Circle is what I wished for when I was trying to conceive.
There are many reasons for this – the cost of fertility treatment, stigma associated with infertility, or simply not knowing where to go.
Those that do seek help are overwhelmed and often ill-informed. Letting people know they are not alone and empowering them to take control of their fertility journey is a huge motivator for me.
What are your dreams for Fertility Circle?
That Fertility Circle will be a household name and the go-to fertility companion for emotional support and advice – whatever your path to parenthood. I’m sure there will be lots of bumps on the road but I know that’s part of the course in the startup world, and I’m excited to navigate them.
With regards to the wider sector, there has been a recent surge in FemTech innovation recently, but astonishingly only 3% of VC money goes to all-female founders. Historically FemTech has been a sorely underserved market.
But things are looking up. The conversation is opening up and bespoke solutions for women – from sexual wellness to fertility, pregnancy, and menopause – are now gaining attention. Investors are waking up to the need and opportunity – for FemTech solutions.
Although regrettably there is a rise in infertility issues – due to lifestyle choices and cultural shifts – we’re also seeing some helpful trends converging that can support interventions such as Fertility Circle. The trend towards telehealth and virtual support has been hastened by the pandemic, and we’re seeing a movement of people taking control of their own wellness, marrying clinical and holistic approaches. I think this ‘mind and body’ approach can be so powerful in areas such as fertility and is something we really embrace at Fertility Circle.
What’s the most important lesson you have learned since starting your company?
I learned the hard way that sometimes it’s quicker and easier to upskill yourself than pay external consultants. Given the sensitive nature of fertility issues, we ran into difficulties with agencies that couldn’t sensitively and creatively connect with our audience, despite me spending hours writing briefs for them.
Ultimately I knew better how to connect with our customers because I’ve been there.
Of course, sometimes it’s better to recognise where your time and skills are best directed and pay someone else but don’t underestimate your value-add or capacity to learn.
I would say don’t underestimate the time and effort it takes to brief and manage contractors – not to mention the financial cost. There are a lot of free and low-cost tools, apps, and courses covering everything from PR to SEO and digital marketing – it’s worth checking them out and building skills that will stay with you after the project has ended.
What is your proudest moment?
Can I pick more than one? 5000 downloads in the first 4 months since launch has been hugely validating and seeing the community grow and support one another.
We’ve also onboarded over 50 world-leading fertility experts, who are truly stand-out in their field, so we’re incredibly proud of those partnerships.
In the last 4 months, we’ve been selected for M Accelerator, Virgin Startup, and FemTech Lab accelerator programs. The companies selected are really high caliber, and having that external validation has been extremely gratifying; I’m confident it will help set us up for success in our forthcoming investment raise.
If you were able to create ANY kind of technology what would it be?
I would choose a positive pregnancy test at the push of a button! After all I’ve been through to wave a magic wand for people and sidestep the fertility rollercoaster that would be such a gift. I know that’s never going to happen but I guess Fertility Circle is a step in the right direction!
Fertility Circle is part of FemTech Lab’s Spring 2021 Cohort. You can keep up to date with the latest updates via our news page.