Startups Weekly: Alpha Medical wants to rebuild women’s healthcare

Hello and welcome back to Startups Weekly, a weekend newsletter that dives into the week’s noteworthy news pertaining to startups and venture capital. Before I jump into today’s topic, let’s catch up a bit. I’ve been on a bit of startup profile kick as of late. Last week, I wrote a little bit about Landline, a bus network backed by Upfront Ventures. Before that, I profiled an e-commerce startup called Part & Parcel.

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Startup Spotlight

I’ve made a habit of highlighting one startup per week in this newsletter, so why stop now? This week, I want to talk about Alpha Medical, an early-stage healthtech startup on a “mission to rebuild women’s healthcare,” founder and CEO Gloria Lau tells TechCrunch.

The early-stage telemedicine business, which focuses on providing reproductive and dermatological care online, launched its membership program this week and expanded into three new states: Georgia, Washington and Virginia.

Dr.J Gloria headshot

Alpha Medical co-founders Dr. J (left) and Gloria Lau.

The company, now active in nine states, has raised $11 million to date from DCVC and AV8, among others, including a recent $10 million Series A. It’s certainly not as well-financed as some of the top telemedicine businesses, like Hims, Ro and Nurx. But Alpha has had something special from the get-go: medical expertise. The company is led by a techie in Lau but its secret weapon is Dr. J. Co-founder and chief medical officer Mary Jacobson, or Dr. J, is an obstetrician, gynecologist and minimally invasive surgeon with extensive experience in clinical care, medical education, hospital operations and research.

There have been and will continue to be many “health tech” companies backed with millions by venture capitalists. But many of these are really just consumer brands with health buzzwords stamped on top. The real winners, I think, will be startups with true medical expertise coupled with tech know-how.

“We are female founders — women building this for women,” says Lau. “We understand the pain point so well.”


WeWork’s eccentric CEO/founder Adam Neumann stepped down this week amid pressure from board members (SoftBank) to exit the C-suite. Wall Street doesn’t think Neumann is fit to be CEO of a public company and if you don’t know why, read this WSJ piece. For more details, listen to this episode of Equity we recorded earlier this week.

Peloton, the fitness tech company that sells really expensive stationary bikes and treadmills, debuted on the NASDAQ on Thursday. They raised more than a billion dollars in the process, so that’s good, but their stock is already struggling. For one, it opened at below its initial price of $29 and closed at about $25, or 11% down. That makes us a bit nervous for the company moving forward. Still, they are well-financed and have plenty of money to put to work.

VC deals

What else?

This was the biggest news week in history. Fortunately, I only need to tell you about startup news… Still, there was a lot of that too. Here are just a few other things I’ll highlight that might have slipped through the cracks.

  • DoorDash confirmed a massive data breach. Here’s what you need to know: It impacted 4.9 million customers, workers and merchants who were using the platform prior to April 5, 2018. The company is blaming the breach on a “third-party service provider,” but the third-party was not named…
  • All the scooters are coming back to San Francisco. Here’s what you need to know: JUMP, Lime, Scoot and Spin were all granted permits to operate their respective services in SF beginning Oct. 15 as part of the city’s longer-term permitting program for electric scooters. If you remember, Lime was previously denied a permit, while Skip was given the green light. This time around, Skip got the boot and Lime was given the go ahead. Oh how times have changed!
  • Uber launched an incubator. Here’s what you need to know: Uber wants to make sure some of its best, most entrepreneurial employees are happy and their tech is at its best. To do this, it’s created an incubator open to employees and those outside the organization to develop products and services on top of Uber’s platform.

TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco, our flagship event, is right around the corner. Next week, October 2 through 4th, the entire TechCrunch staff will gather from all corners of the world to interview leaders in technology and venture capital. From Snap CEO Evan Spiegel to Joseph Gordon-Levitt, actor and founder of HitRecord, to a16z’s crypto expert Chris Dixon, we’ll have something for everyone.

Newsletter readers can get 20% off tickets by using this link. Hope to see you all there.

Finally, listen to Equity

We recorded not one but two Equity episodes this week because, well, the news just wouldn’t stop. The first was a guide on the WeMess. You can listen to that one here. In the second episode, we tried to hit on everything else that happened this week, from Peloton’s listing, to Vox & NYMag’s merger, to Bodega’s quiet funding and Kapwing’s $11 million Series A. Listen to that one here.

Equity drops every Friday at 6:00 am PT, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercastSpotify and all the casts.