Levchin’s Glow Fertility App Hits the App Store, Raises $6 Million in Funding
If a) you’ve recently decided you’re ready to start a family; b) you’re frustrated with the current health-care system and wish there were methods for funding fertility treatments; c) the spectacle surrounding the royal baby made your ovaries ache last month; or d) all of the above, there’s an app for that.
I’m referring, of course, to Glow, the fertility app that PayPal co-founder Max Levchin first revealed at our D11 conference earlier this summer. Glow is a free-to-download, iPhone-only app that helps women — and their partners — track ovulation cycles and other data points to predict peak fertility windows. It officially launches in the App Store today.
In addition, the Bay Area-based startup has raised $6 million in venture capital funding from Brian Singerman of Founders Fund, Jeff Jordan of Andreessen Horowitz and individual investors including Yuri Milner.
Fertility apps are actually fairly common — since D11, I’ve been pitched on at least three competing apps — but Glow goes beyond tracking ovulation cycles, sexual activity and, yes, the texture of cervical mucus. Levchin and Glow co-founder Mike Huang have built the company with the intent to disrupt the current health-care system in the U.S., by creating a kind of insurance fund to help pay for women’s fertility treatments.
App users have the option to contribute $50 a month to the Glow Fund, for a period of 10 months. If, after 10 months of using the Glow app, a woman hasn’t conceived, she can withdraw money from the Glow Fund and use it to pay for fertility treatments. Conversely, if she has gotten pregnant, she forfeits her contributions; they will go toward another user’s fertility treatments. Levchin himself has jump-started the initiative by contributing $1 million from his own pocket.
“We’re basically crowdfunding babies,” Levchin said in an interview with AllThingsD.
But Levchin and Huang’s vision goes beyond making babies. The value, they say, lies in the data. The company has secured what it says will be the first of many partnerships with the Shady Grove Fertility Center, for the exchange of new information surrounding women’s health and fertility.
“We want to gather fresh data surrounding topics like: Is having sex on your back better for conception? How much does BMI (body mass index) impact fertility? Should this person be treated for endometriosis, instead of turning to expensive fertility procedures first?” Levchin said.
And further down the line, there might be more reasons — aside from the whole getting-pregnant part — for people to stay active on Glow. “We’re not sure how yet, but we’re going to reward people for staying engaged in the app,” he said.