Ovuline, the big data-driven fertility tracker backed by $1.4 million in funding from Lightbank, Launch Capital and others, is today launching an upgraded version of its Smart Fertility product which now more accurately predicts ovulation, offering real-time feedback plus integration with “quantified self” devices like the FitBit and Withings.
Company co-founder and CEO Paris Wallace had previously founded Boston-based Good Start Genetics out of his Harvard Business School dorm room – a company which, incidentally, just announced $28 million in financing. During his four years there growing the business, he gained a lot of exposure to the fertility space, leading him to tackle what he refers to as the “least talked about public health issue” in the U.S. There are now 7.3 million people (men and women combined) who are struggling to conceive in the U.S. alone, and it’s something they generally suffer through alone.
With Ovuline, the idea is to give women the power to improve their chances at conception by going beyond traditional means, like basal temperature charting, for example.
A number of services and mobile apps offer very basic tools to monitor and track a woman’s fertility, but these tend to be either arithmetic-based methods which make estimates based on a woman’s cycle, or those which offer digitized charts where women input data like their basal temperature and other factors. But Ovuline goes a step further.
It allows for the manual entry of various data points which women working to conceive are already familiar with – things like basal temperature, cervical fluid analysis, ovulation test results, physical symptoms, mood, etc., as well as other metrics like sleep, weight, nutrition and activity. But now, through the integration with quantified self devices like the FitBit, it can also pull in some of this data automatically, like steps taken or sleep cycles, for instance.
Since its beta launch in June 2012, the company has grown to over 50,000 users, who have provided the service with more than 2.5 million of these data points. This data is the critical piece to Ovuline’s true value in this space. It uses machine learning techniques and crunches big data, which in turn has helped to create proprietary algorithms which more accurately predict a women’s ovulation – meaning the best time to get pregnant.
Now that it has data to build on top of, Ovuline can make real-time predictions immediately after a woman enters data and hits “submit.” Right away, the service (web or mobile) can tell the end user where they stand today, and what their next steps should be.
Of course, the bigger question is whether or not it’s actually working. Wallace claims it is, saying the company has received thousands of thank you’s from its users who have gotten pregnant after signing up for the service, sometimes as many as ten to fifteen emails per day. In fact, one of the company’s success stories actually comes from its CTO and machine learning expert, Alex Baron.
“Most people start families by – you know, having sex – but he started his by building an algorithm to figure out when his wife is ovulating,” laughs Wallace. (Baby Michael is now four months old.)
The more interesting data point around success rates, however, is the fact that of those who report they’ve become pregnant, the pregnancy is happening 60 days after they become Ovuline members. That’s three times faster than the national average, which is generally four to six months, Wallace notes.
Soon, Ovuline will begin to help its newly pregnant members, too, with the launch of a pregnancy tracking app later this year which will also integrate with quantified self devices to monitor key health indicators like activity levels and blood pressure, to help women have healthier pregnancies. This app and the fertility tracker will work with more devices in the future, but those discussions and deals are under NDA.
Ovuline is a freemium service, but the advanced features, including calendar integration, expert advice, and fertility predictions are available for a one-time fee of $10 on mobile, or $50 for both web and mobile. Sign up is here.