Maven: Better Care for Every Family

By Jess Lee on behalf of Team Sequoia

Women’s health is a niche market.” “Isn’t pregnancy a solved problem?” “My wife wouldn’t use this.” “People don’t want to videochat with their doctors.” “How will you convince men to work for you?”

When Kate Ryder founded Maven in 2014, very few women’s and family health companies even existed — and she heard a litany of reasons from investors who didn’t want to back hers. But Kate kept at it. She knew, in part from personal experience, that her vision of a 24/7 digital clinic in patients’ pockets could be transformative. She also knew that healthcare is a $3 trillion market where women make 80% of decisions for their families, that maternity is often the top cost for employer-sponsored health plans, and that the U.S. has one of the highest maternal death rates in the developed world. Maven had the potential to improve those costs and outcomes, make the family building process more inclusive — and in the process, to become a category-defining digital health company.

Eventually, Kate’s perseverance paid off. After more than 100 rejections, she found her early true believers: Anu Duggal at Female Founders Fund, Lauren Brueggen and Jamie Weston at Spring Mountain Capital, Nancy Brown and Annie Lamont at Oak HC/FT, and Sequoia.

The next step was to build out the provider network. A new mom herself, Kate understood the need for holistic support, and recruited a broad range of providers — from fertility, egg-preservation and surrogacy specialists; to OBGYNs; to maternal mental health clinicians, pediatricians, and postpartum return-to-work experts. I’ve seen the power of this cross-functional approach firsthand. Over the years Maven providers have counseled me through a miscarriage, two very different pregnancies, and many panicked “new mom moments.” To this day, this remains the foundation of the company’s telemedicine care model. Maven members can access more than 30 types of providers, with a 4.9-star average rating and 27-minute average wait time for same-day appointments. What’s more, the diversity of the Maven network mirrors that of the patients it serves, with 40% BIPOC representation and more than 30 languages spoken.

The scrappy early days of provider recruiting at Maven: along with direct mailers to OBs, the team canvassed “mama meetups” at local parks.

Kate’s next challenge was to bring employers into the fold and offer Maven as a benefit to their employees. The early adopters were a group of innovative companies who wanted to provide best-in-class support for working parents, and they confirmed that Kate and the team were on the right path; after years of struggling with a patchwork of point solutions across fertility and maternity, an all-in-one care platform was exactly what they needed. More and larger companies started to take notice, and today, Maven serves more than 20% of the Fortune 15 (including Microsoft, who recently blogged about their experience with Maven here), along with enterprises such as Snapchat, L’Oréal, Boston Scientific and Booz Allen Hamilton. As the platform has scaled, Maven has gathered data that proves Kate’s early instincts were spot-on. By lowering NICU rates, C-section rates and emergency room admissions, Maven is delivering on its promise to improve both costs and maternal health outcomes.

Becoming the only women’s and family health unicorn is itself a historic milestone — but Maven is just getting started. While COVID-19 was a powerful tailwind for many industries, including telemedicine, it also highlighted the inequities too many women and families face when it comes to health care. With today’s announcement of a $110M Series D, led by Eric Jones at Dragoneer Investment Group and Deena Shakir at Lux Capital, with participation from Noah Knauf at BOND, Oprah Winfrey, and existing investors like Sequoia, Maven is well-positioned to help address those gaps. And while the platform currently serves parents through their employers’ health plans, its success is unlocking new paths to make care far more accessible. Among our ambitions for the future is to include patients who are covered by Medicaid, which serves 75 million low-income Americans and accounts for 50% of all births in the U.S.

Watching Kate pioneer this category and build Maven brick by brick has been a humbling experience. She is ambitious, visionary and mission-driven — a true force of nature. Though doubters made the earliest days an uphill battle, Kate never stopped fighting for families. While having three children herself, she managed to build not only a business, but an incredible team with an award-winning culture. We at Sequoia can’t wait for more of the world to experience Maven, and we’re excited to continue supporting Kate and the team and to see what they do next.

Kate Ryder and her kids

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