Health Tech

Former Uber Health founder launches new startup with a fresh take on egg freezing

Cofertility is a new startup aiming to make egg freezing more accessible by tying it to egg donation. The startup offers women two programs: Keep and Split. With Keep, women can pay to freeze their eggs and store them all for their own later use. The Split program allows women to freeze their eggs for free when they give half to a family who can’t otherwise conceive.

Women are choosing to start families later in life than ever before. Waiting longer to conceive often involves egg freezing, but that process is an expensive one. The average cost of egg freezing is between $10,000 and $20,000, and most insurance plans don’t cover it.

Cofertility, a startup that launched last week, is aiming to make egg freezing more accessible by tying it to egg donation.

The company was founded by three women who have had complex fertility journeys of their own — Lauren Makler, Halle Tecco and Arielle Spiegel. Makler, who serves as the startup’s CEO, was the former founder of Uber Health. Tecco was the former founder of Natalist (a fertility company acquired by Everly Health last year), as well as the former founder of Rock Health. Spiegel is a marketing professional who has experience with household-name brands such as Coach and Victoria’s Secret.

Along with its launch, the startup also announced it has raised $5 million in a seed funding round led by Initialized Capital and Offline Ventures, with additional participation from a group of female angel investors.

“Cofertility at its core is reshaping egg freezing and egg donation to make it more accessible, human and community driven,” Makler said in a recent interview. “It was born out of the reality that the way we build families is more dynamic than ever and looks different for everybody.”

The startup offers women two programs: Keep and Split. With Keep, women can pay to freeze their eggs and store them all for their own later use. The Split program allows women to freeze their eggs for free when they give half to a family who can’t otherwise conceive.

To see if they qualify for the Split program, women fill out a preliminary questionnaire based on the egg donation guidelines set forth by American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Then they fill out an application that gathers information about them as an individual. 

This application solicits data about a potential donor’s lifestyle factors, education, cultural background and family medical history, as well as information about their personality. The application asks questions like ‘If you could have dinner with three people dead or alive, who would they be?’ and ‘What are your favorite books?’

These types of questions are included so that intended parents can get to know potential donors on a more personal level, something Makler said is missing from traditional egg donor matching services. Legacy matching services feel “antiquated and generally disappointing” to prospective parents, she claimed.

“Intended parents are scrolling through clunky online profiles or receiving a spreadsheet list of donors where every row is a different donor. And then there are services that go the opposite direction, where they’re over-emphasizing classist attributes and good looks. So the experience can feel either like you’re buying from the black market or you’re on a really cringey dating site,” Makler said.

To her, the way Cofertility’s personalizes its donor profiles sets it apart from other egg donor matching services, such as GoStork or Matching Miracles. Makler also pointed out that the startup is more affordable than traditional donor matching services. 

With traditional services, prospective parents pay an agency coordination fee, sponsor the cost of the medical treatment, and then pay a cash compensation fee to their donor, she said. With Cofertility’s model, intended parents pay a coordination fee and sponsor the treatment, but there is no additional cash compensation because the startup’s donors are taking part in the Split program. Cofertility’s coordination fee also comes with a baby guarantee, meaning prospective parents can do as many rounds of egg freezing they need until they have a baby.

Photo: Natali_Mis, Getty Images