Mate Fertility, the new Los Angeles startup launching today with $2.8 million in financing, has a mission to create a more inclusive network of family planning services for people struggling with the high cost and low availability of fertility clinics around the country.
Founded by serial entrepreneur Oliver Bogner and his brother Gabriel, Mate was born from both brothers’ struggles with trying to start a family. For Oliver, that was when he and his partner were looking at IVF as a way to screen for the BRCA1 gene from her embryos after she found out that she was a carrier. Meanwhile, Gabriel, an IVF baby who is a member of the LGBTQ community, felt that the services for family planning weren’t always accepting of the gay community.
“IVF and surrogacy were the only options for me to have kids,” the younger Bogner said. “And the queer community has been locked out of these services. It became my mission to democratize healthcare for my community.”
Once Oliver started doing research into the market and discovered that there were only 460 fertility clinics in the U.S. and that over 80% were concentrated in five major metropolitan areas, he knew there was an opportunity for a new business.
The Bogner brothers enlisted famed reproductive endocrinologist Dr. Jeffrey Steinberg, who trained under the British doctors that pioneered In Vitro Fertilization, to come on board and together the three men launched Mate Fertility.
The co-founders have enlisted an impressive array of financiers to back their business, boasting an investor base that includes Andy Dunn, the founder of Bonobos; Peter Pham, the co-founder of the LA-based consumer-focused company incubator, Science; Patrick Schwarzenegger; Brian Schwartz; the investors behind Roman, Allbirds and Caspar, Rosecliff Ventures; Pure Imagination Brands; Mana Ventures; and Maschmeyer Group Ventures.
Mate is launching first in Oklahoma City, where two legacy providers are charging anywhere from 10% to 15% above the national average for family planning services. “We’re going in at anywhere from 50% to 60% lower costs than they are,” said Oliver Bogner.
The company said it would offer egg freezing services for as low as $5,000 and IVF for $9,400*, while the national average for IVF cycle costs ranges from $15,000 to $18,000, including medication.
“We’re still making healthy margins that allow us to operate the business. It’s not a matter of these procedures costing more. These 460 clinics are allowed to radically mark up the process,” said the elder Bogner. “One of these clinics is making approximately 1,000% profit margin on every procedure.”
Given the fact that the company estimates roughly 18% of the U.S. population will face some fertility issue, the need for more clinics — setting aside the lower costs — would be enormous.
“We need 3,000 clinics to properly serve our population; today we have 460. There’s a huge gap in care,” said Bogner.
The company is working with the architects behind Dry Bar, Heitler Houstoun, to design its clinics in an effort to popularize and destigmatize the services.
“We were really intrigued by Oliver and Gabe. In terms of what the biggest risks are… you’re not playing around. You’re not creating software, you’re creating life,” said Adam Struck, the founder of Mate Fertility’s lead investment firm, Struck Capital. “The ultimate KPI which is success rate for our patients is top tier. There’s a lot that Mate is doing to ensure that some of the best medical personnel in the world are part of the Mate mission.”
Mate Fertility offers modern EHR platforms, an e-pharmacy, proven protocols, payment assistance and digital patient and provider portals for services that include IVF, genetic screening, egg freezing, surrogacy and LGBTQ family building treatments, the company said.
Its first locations will be clinics in Oklahoma City, Anchorage, Arkansas; Bakersfield, California; Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Austin, Texas; and Portland, Oregon.
*An earlier version of this story cited the company’s IVF price as $8,000.