Consumer / Employer

Meet Zuri — The Startup That Just Launched to Help People Navigate Infertility

A new startup named Zuri Fertility recently launched. Its platform provides resources for patients who are trying to conceive — including telehealth, at-home testing, prescriptions, mental health services, education and care coordination.

Starting a family is often one of the most joyous times in couples’ lives, but the journey can end up turning stressful and heartbreaking for those experiencing infertility issues. The Word Health Organization estimates that one in six adults is affected by infertility — for these individuals, navigating the process of conceiving a baby is usually ripe with obstacles.

A new startup launched on Wednesday to help people better traverse those roadblocks, albeit with a sizable subscription fee for now. The platform, named Zuri Fertility, provides resources for patients who are trying to conceive — including telehealth, at-home testing, prescriptions, mental health services, education and care coordination.

The Chicago-based company was founded by Giuliana Zaccardelli, who serves as CEO, and Blair Matthews, who is COO. They created Zuri because Matthews and his wife realized first-hand that couples don’t have enough support when they’re going through their fertility journey.

Luckily for the couple, Matthews’ wife Jasmine works in medicine and had a network of peers that could help them navigate the process a little more easily. The Matthews also traveled to Zanzibar while they were trying to start a family so Jasmine could meet the woman who was her husband’s house mother while he was studying abroad. During the trip, the woman surprised Jasmine by taking her to get a henna tattoo traditionally believed to make women more fertile. Since the couple ended up conceiving shortly after they got back stateside, they think fondly of this experience in Africa. It’s where the startup’s name comes from — “zuri” means good or beautiful in Swahili.

But not everyone who is trying to have a baby has a medical background, and not everyone can travel to Zanzibar to be adorned with fertility henna, Matthews pointed out in a recent interview. And that’s where Zuri comes in to help.

A single patient or a couple can sign up for the platform — the registration fee is a hefty $2,000 and the subscription fee is about $500 per month. Zuri begins helping people at the beginning of their fertility journey by providing educational content, ovulation cycle monitoring and sexual activity tracking. The platform later assists patients with things like scheduling telehealth consultations with fertility doctors and delivering diagnostic tests to help get patients diagnosed with infertility issues early on in the process. 

“From there, we can create personalized treatment plans that are based on what might be causing their infertility. The vast majority of infertility patients can be treated with medication, and for those users, we can prescribe that medication to them through telehealth and coordinate follow-up care,” Zaccardelli explained.

There’s a “small subset” of patients who might require in vitro fertilization, she said. For these patients, Zuri offers referrals to specialists and helps coordinate that care.

Zuri’s platform also offers patients support throughout the journey, Zaccardelli and Matthews pointed out. The startup provides its users with access to mental health providers, nutritionists and financial counselors.

The platform is currently available in California, Illinois, Massachusetts and Indiana. This is only the initial launch, though, Zaccardelli said — the plan is for Zuri to scale nationally. The startup also plans to switch to a more insurance-based business model in the future — which could expand access to beyond those who can afford the $2,000 registration fee — but it doesn’t have a timeline for that yet because “fertility insurance is extremely complicated and varies a lot from state to state,” she noted.

The company’s main competitors are brick-and-mortar fertility clinics, as well as other fertility startups like Kindbody, Carrot Fertility and Progyny  — all of which have services that are already covered for those with certain employers or health plans. For example, Aetna and UnitedHealthcare cover Kindbody’s services, and Peleton employees are offered Carrot’s services as a covered benefit. Zaccardelli and Matthews believe their platform will stand out from the rest because of its focus on helping patients early on in their journey and maintaining care continuity throughout the process.

“We take the burden off of the patients to navigate their care. We are a comprehensive platform that offers them resources at every step of the way — from the very beginning of their journey through pregnancy,” Zaccardelli declared.

Photo: Prostock-Studio, Getty Images