IVF Entrepreneurs: Be Anti-Exploitative

Lessons in IVF venture capital, guideline #1:

One of the unspoken motivations of IVF patients is avoiding a life-time of regret thinking that “I didn’t do all I could.”

Many of the IVF start-ups I see adapt that line as part of their pitches, and why their particular intervention justifies another $1000, $1500, $3000 or whatever paid out of pocket by the patient.

A friendly recommendation: I am open to that line of reasoning, provided that you offer clear, data-based evidence of the value proposition. In other words (write this down):

That by using some combination of the patients’ own key performance indicators ie

1) $ to baby
2) time to baby
3) inconvenience (loss of work hours) or physical pain to baby

…it is clearly in their best interest to dedicate a % of their budget from a possible subsequent cycle in exchange for the incremental benefit that your intervention will cost. If you can’t do that, then saddling the patient with the bill is like asking a clinical trial subject to pay for the company’s research.

Moreover, appealing to the patients’ fear that they will look back and regret not “doing all that they could have” (or expecting her doctor to use that line) by not investing some of their IVF budget in your possibly beneficial but still unproven intervention — that ain’t …good healthcare. In a field as emotionally fraught as infertility, we need to be efficient, informed, and innovative.

And anti-exploitative as well.

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David Sable

bio fund manager, Columbia prof, ex-reproductive endocrinologist, roadie for @PriyaMayadas