The U.S. fertility clinics industry was worth a staggering $8 billion in 2022. And it’s set to continue growing. But while there’s a strong demand for fertility services, would-be parents face crushing obstacles in their fertility journey — including sky-high costs, lackluster patient care, and lack of access outside of city centers.

Mate Fertility aims to address these problems head-on. The company is a “fertility clinic in a box” — meaning it brings fertility services to OB-GYN offices in underserved areas. Mate provides advanced nursing services, builds out embryology labs, hires staff, drives patients to clinics, offers financial counseling to patients, and more. We sat down with founder Gabriel Bogner to learn about how Mate is making fertility services more accessible than ever.

Note: This interview was conducted over phone and email. It has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Funding Round Details

Mate Fertility logo
Company: Mate Fertility
Security Type: SAFE
Valuation: $25,000,000
Min Investment: $1,000
Platform: Wefunder
Deadline: Sep 27, 2023
View Deal

In your own words, how would you describe your company?

Mate Fertility is the most innovative fertility startup in history. We’re the only company actually solving the biggest issues facing fertility care, and we’re doing it in an innovative way that puts the patient experience first. We enable OB-GYNs in traditionally underserved fertility markets to offer more affordable in vitro fertilization (IVF) to their communities and cities by upskilling those OB-GYNs and retrofitting their clinics. We surround that OB-GYN with admin and fertility services to set them up for success. That means we build them an IVF lab, hire them an embryologist, do all the patient acquisition and marketing, have a call center staffed with highly trained fertility advisors, do all the financial counseling and backend office work, provide all the fertility nursing services, and oversee the operations of the clinic. In addition, the Mate team staffs reproductive endocrinologists (REIs) to oversee and manage stimulation protocols and patient care. We just use REIs in a distributed virtual care model that is significantly more scalable than the current system. We are a fertility clinic in a box. 

What inspired you to take the leap and start this company?

I got into the space for three big reasons. The first being I’m actually an IVF baby myself, so you could say that I was born into this industry. I’ve always been connected to this space and fascinated by the science that made me. The second reason being that I’m part of the LGBTQ+ community and I’ve always wanted to have kids. It’s so difficult for people in my community to access care and there’s so few resources available, so I’ve always had a passion for increasing access to third party reproduction. 

The third big reason I got into the space is that I have a lot of experience being a patient in our healthcare system. I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and needed to get my entire large intestine removed. I currently live with an ileostomy and I always wanted to get into the business side of healthcare to build a better experience for patients than I had. The desire to help people and transform an industry that has seen no innovation since its inception is what drove me to take this leap. 

Can you walk us through the biggest problems that the fertility industry faces today?

There are many, but the biggest problems that stick out to me are geographic accessibility, affordability, and patient experience. Breaking those down a little further, once you get out of the main metropolitan centers, accessing care becomes extremely difficult. There just aren’t many fertility centers in the U.S. Our entire country has only 440 IVF centers, and upward of 30% of people need access to some type of fertility care nowadays. We have a massive supply imbalance, whereas demand has skyrocketed. Supply of these clinics has totally stagnated. 

The second problem we face is affordability, which is also related to supply and demand. Demand is so high and supply is so low that prices have been artificially increased to the point of price gouging, where the everyday American can’t even come close to affording one cycle. The cost of care is so high in some states that the price for a single IVF cycle is actually higher than the average median income. That is a massive issue that needs to be talked about more. Our prices tend to be about 30% to 40% more affordable than legacy clinics, and even though we have a long way to go to make the cost of care palatable, it’s still an improvement. 

The third problem is how patients are treated in many centers, and the overall patient experience (or lack thereof). There’s a complete lack of transparency and very minimal education. Patients feel like numbers and are passed from person to person. We are transparent with costs from the start and really focus on educating patients about what treatment they are getting and just infertility in general. At Mate, patients also get treated by the same person every visit and the same clinicians follow their care from start to finish. 

What types of markets do you like to target?

About 80% of fertility clinics in the U.S. are located in top metropolitan cities and tend to be catered toward the 1%. Think Beverly Hills, New York, Miami, San Francisco. Once you get outside of these large centers of wealth, it tends to be very difficult to find any type of fertility care. 

When you take a look at secondary markets around the U.S., there tends to be large population densities but still a very limited number of fertility clinics. Again we come back to this supply/demand issue. There’s just not enough clinics in our country. So our whole model is about increasing access, meaning we like to be in the smaller secondary or tertiary markets. That’s where people need us the most and that’s where we like to be. Other startups may shy away from opening locations in places like Alaska, Kentucky, Alabama, the Dakotas, Minnesota, or Oklahoma, but those are really some of the best target markets. 

What is a management service organization in the context of your business model?

The definition of a management service organization (MSO) is a healthcare specific entity that helps with the day-to-day work of running a clinic. An MSO provides a host of administrative and management functions necessary to be successful in a modern healthcare ecosystem. That is exactly what we do and more. Because of our unique business model, where we actually enable OB-GYN providers to offer IVF and fertility services, they need the administrative, management, and clinical expertise of a very experienced fertility team to run a profitable, effective, and safe fertility clinic. We don’t just let OB-GYNs offer these services and leave — we are intimately involved in every aspect of the business to ensure our clinics run successfully. As mentioned before, we are a fertility clinic in a box, meaning we build out embryology labs, hire staff, drive patients to the clinic, answer calls and schedule, train our partners, offer financial counseling to patients, provide advanced IVF nursing services, and more. The only way to make these clinics work is through the management services we offer to our partners. 

If we talk again 12 months from now, what milestones will you have achieved?

We hope to be on track to be the largest fertility provider in the country. That means having a national footprint across the U.S where we can start helping almost anyone who needs us. We hope to have a lot more clinical data to support our model and continue proving out that we can have better clinical pregnancy rates than the national average. We already have pregnancy rates 20% above the national average, and we hope to continue that trend. 

We also want to be known as a place with superb patient experiences and reviews. The patient experience is at the heart of everything we do, and as we scale, we need to keep that intimate and personal relationship we have with our patients and continue to be known as a center of excellence. And finally, we want to be in a position to have another successful round of capital raising. 

We look forward to seeing where Gabriel and his team take the company. Mate Fertility is currently raising on Wefunder.