Maven Clinic Raises $11M Series A To Continue Expanding Women’s Health Services

This morning, Maven Clinic announced a $10.8 million Series A round, bringing the company’s total funding to over $15 million. The round was led by Spring Mountain Capital, with participation from 14W, Female Founders Fund, DGNL, and Colle Capital among others.

Alongside the funding news, Maven also announced the addition of two new board members– Spring Mountain Capital’s Lauren Breuggen and Aetna veteran and Bright Health Chief Business Officer, Rachel Winokur.

In conjunction with the funding news, we interviewed Maven’s founder, Kate Ryder, about the early days of building Maven, the evolution of their product and services, and what we can expect to see next from the leading telemedicine startup for women.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what Maven does?

I’m a reformed journalist, ex-venture capitalist, fly fisherman, bridge player, mother of a one-year-old, and now a CEO. I started Maven in 2014 as a healthcare outsider with a big mission of better supporting the female patient and her family. We set out to do this by building a highly-vetted network of the best women’s and family health practitioners and connecting them to patients over our digital care platform via video or private message.

Maven works with both individuals and companies to provide care. Our individual consumer platform is totally user-driven, and makes it easy for women to connect with a wide variety of practitioners to receive clinical advice on sensitive or embarrassing topics or get prescriptions for things like birth control, UTI medication, and mental health treatments. The practitioners within our network include everything from OB-GYNs and nurse practitioners to therapists and other mental health providers to nutritionists and physical therapists, who are available for diet and exercise support (not to mention pelvic floor rehabilitation after childbirth)! We take a holistic and comprehensive approach to maternity care, helping women create care teams of specialists in pregnancy and infant health including midwives, pediatricians, lactation consultants, and doulas that provide personalized support and help users grow their families.

Maven Maternity, our platform for companies, offers clinical programs around fertility, pregnancy, postpartum care, and returning to work by leveraging our network of practitioners. We’ve been able to help companies across industries attract and retain women and reduce maternity-related costs by improving clinical outcomes. The responses we get from clients after launching Maven are fantastic — they get great feedback from their employees about how this sends a positive message about supporting a family-friendly culture.

Going to a doctor’s office is such an ingrained practice in our society. How were you able to attract users to download and use Maven at the beginning of its creation?

In the very beginning, as a new healthcare platform with no marketing money, we had to get creative. We launched a successful field marketing program in NYC to encourage sign ups, and everyone on the founding team participated — at one point, we all stood in parks to get users to sign up! This strategy allowed us to illustrate the value proposition and walk through the process of setting up an account and booking an appointment. Once we began to have more users, we relied heavily on word-of-mouth referrals. It started out organically, and as we continued to grow we launched formal ambassador programs aimed at millennials and college women. Because healthcare is so personal, building a strong reputation of compassion, confidence, convenience, and quality ended up being the foundation for Maven’s success.

We saw the campaign post-election season to offer free birth control consultations. It felt so well-timed and got a good bit of coverage. Given the ever-changing nature of healthcare policies, what advantages do you perceive Maven to be tapping into as a leader in the telehealth space?

Telemedicine is an amazing tool because it makes healthcare simultaneously more affordable and more accessible. Patients appreciate Maven because it allows them to talk to best-in-class providers at whatever time and place are most convenient, and practitioners see our network as an avenue to support women’s healthcare at a time when its future feels very uncertain. In general, we just focus on these two groups, keep our heads down, and deliver excellent care to everyone, regardless of their politics.

The birth control campaign came out organically, as we saw the potential for a huge shift in current policy. If anything, we are seeing that the current political climate has kept women’s health in the spotlight and this has continued to highlight the need for better healthcare for women.

According to the American Telemedicine Association, 70% of what is conducted in an office can be accomplished over a video appointment — at a fraction of the cost and far more conveniently.

What was the biggest challenge which Maven has faced in achieving its mission? How were you able to overcome that obstacle?

We’re in an exciting moment where we’re creating the future of healthcare (think: virtual doctor visits! digital maternal health programs!), but there are still a lot of women who have never chatted to a practitioner over video. Some Americans still think that medical appointments need to happen in an offline setting, but the majority of the time, the exact opposite is true. According to the American Telemedicine Association, 70% of what is conducted in an office can be accomplished over a video appointment — at a fraction of the cost and far more conveniently. We’ve been able to overcome these behavior change hurdles by providing comprehensive profiles and video biographies of the practitioners in our community — so you feel like you’re talking to a friendly OB-GYN who grew up in Pittsburg, attended medical school at the University of Georgia, has practiced for 16 years, and has two kids rather than some random doctor.

What does Maven do differently that has allowed it to succeed in the marketplace for female health care?

There aren’t many women’s healthcare companies in the market (yet), so we have the competitive advantage of being an early mover in the space. We also distinguish ourselves by humanizing the experience as much as possible for our users by creating communities both within our user groups and with practitioners where patients can engage with one another and practitioners in micro-communities in the Maven forum for anonymous, judgement-free support and advice. Additionally, 98% of our practitioners are female, so patients really feel comfortable and understood.

Can you tell us how you’re attracting and serving women of different age groups?

Our core customer is the millennial female, loosely defined as women from 18–42. We have a large group of pregnant women and new moms through Maven Maternity because we’re rolling out to companies and directly signing up their new parent populations. We also have a large number of college students that rely on Maven for services such as birth control consultations, UTI prescriptions, and therapy appointments. Outside of that, our active ambassador programs initially helped us attract different types of users — whether geography-specific or issue-specific. We’ve seen, for instance, a fair number of patients from rural areas in the US because it’s simply easier to see someone on Maven than to go to a doctor in-person.

“We heard that maternity was a top spend for employers, and that poor retention of new parents was also a major issue. What they really wanted was a program that drove outcomes, and not a one-off telemedicine marketplace.”

Can you share what inspired the Maven Maternity product that you launched earlier this year? What are some of the success stories that have come from your new B2B angle?

We always knew companies would be a primary distribution channel because self-insured employers have traditionally been a key buyer of innovative digital health solutions, to bring down medical costs as well as increase employee happiness. After pitching to our first employers in late 2014 with a women’s health telemedicine network, we heard that maternity was a top spend for them and poor retention of new parents was also a major issue. What they really wanted was a program that drove outcomes, and not a one-off telemedicine marketplace. Maven Maternity is now that program, addressing the gap in support during pregnancy, postpartum, and return-to-work, with new programming around fertility and manager training. We zero in on C-Section rates, reducing pre-term births, as well as back-to-work coaching.

Maven also bridges online to offline support by referring patients to its preferred fertility clinics, introducing patience to OB-GYNs or midwives with low C-Section rates, and even coordinating care with a patient’s existing practitioner.

What are success stories? I’ll let our users speak for themselves:

“It took a few weeks before I realized I didn’t feel normal. Looking back, I initially thought my exhaustion, hormones, and general stress were the reasons behind my blah feelings. I even thought the weather was the culprit — New York in the winter with a new baby is tough! I think my partner was the first to recognize that I wasn’t only dealing with the baby blues. We had used Maven to speak with a lactation consultant, and he gently asked that I consider scheduling an appointment with a Maven mental health specialist. I now speak with someone weekly, and it’s incredible to have such convenient support from home, especially with a little one.”

“As a first time mom who had been pregnant once before, I was anxious all the time. Maven was a lifesaver during those moments when I’d get really nervous. I remember when I was about 12 weeks pregnant, I was on a work trip and got terrible food poisoning. I was able to speak with a Maven OB-GYN (at midnight no less) who reassured me that the baby was going to be fine and gave me recommendations to avoid dehydration plus a list of symptoms to look out for.”

At this point, Maven works with 1,000 medical professionals to deliver digital healthcare to women. What do you see in store for Maven’s future?

As we expand our enterprise (B2B) product, we’re really excited about some of the new programs we’ll be offering, especially in bridging digital and in-person care. For example, we’ve begun to launch partnerships with fertility clinics nationwide for in-person treatment to compliment Maven’s digital care. Also, if a Maven Maternity user is pregnant but doesn’t have an OB-GYN or midwife yet, we can direct her to a clinician on Maven’s network who is also in her carrier’s network, who we know has low C-Section rates and high patient satisfaction. Matching an amazing practitioner to a patient is one of the most important ways to drive healthcare outcomes.

Now that you’ve successfully raised a $11M Series A, tell us about how you plan to employ this capital to continue to grow Maven and your team?

This new round of funding enables Maven to continue invest in its Maven Maternity platform, with greater personalization and content for each individual member’s user experience — whether it’s infertility, pregnancy, postpartum, adoption, surrogacy, or loss. It will also allow Maven to build more tools to support its model of coordinated care across its practitioner network. We’re also making some really exciting key leadership hires including a Chief Commercial Officer and a VP of Marketing.