London-based Gaia has raised $20 million in a Series A funding round via Atomico in order to further its mission of enabling more people to become parents. The startup has introduced an IVF insurance product that is underpinned by clinically validated datasets in combination with machine learning techniques, and used to predict how many rounds of IVF might be needed. The new funding will support Gaia’s scaling of existing operations and markets, as well as foster US market expansion plans.
For individuals or couples who find themselves wanting to become parents, but through any number of variables struggle, in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatments may be the answer to their quest.
However, a successful IVF treatment cycle isn’t guaranteed, quite the opposite in fact. The process has a success rate of just 25 to 30 percent, with that percentage decreasing each time a new treatment cycle is entered into.
With no guarantees, diminishing chances of success, and a cost that ranges upwards of $12,000, with my sources reporting closer to $20,000 to $35,000 with medications were factored in, it’s easy to see why according to Gaia founder and CEO Nader AlSalim, “Three out of four people who seek fertility treatment never start because they believe the financial burden would be too large,”
“With only one in seven people in the UK and US who require IVF being able to access it, we need to rethink how people access, experience, and pay for treatments which are physically and mentally taxing.” - Gaia founder and CEO Nader AlSalim.
Now while no one can predict conception with 100 percent certainty, what Nader AlSalim and the Gaia team are doing is trying to remove as many of the uncertainties as possible.
Tapping into a pool of datasets and combining them the machine learning techniques, according to Gaia, the model is highly accurate and has been proven on millions of IVF cycles across IVF clinics in the UK. With this prediction, Gaia is able to provide a fairly accurate number attached to the "how many rounds?" question, and thus, the associated costs.
Armed with this information, the company is then able to offer an insurance product that is based around a rather simple and straightforward, principle:
“A new way to pay for IVF. Monthly if you have a baby. A fraction of the cost if you don’t.”
If a successful live birth is not achieved at the end of the process, insured parties only pay a fraction of the cost of a “traditional” IVF treatment cycle. If success is achieved, the cost of the IVF process can be spread out across monthly payments.
Gaia’s $20 million Series A round was provided by Atomico, who now joins existing investors Kindred Capital, Seedcamp and, Clocktower Technology Ventures. Atomico Partner Sasha Astafyeva will take a seat on the Gaia board as part of the investment.
“A whole host of factors – from declining sperm rates to people giving birth later in life – is leading to upward pressure on demand for fertility services,” commented Astafyeva. “With more people turning to fertility solutions, Gaia’s offer is well placed to play a vital role in helping huge numbers of families who are frozen out of the treatment process based solely on financial reasons beyond their control.”
Lead image: Serena Bolton