Femtech is having a banner year, largely as a result of a massive uptick in venture capital financings for women’s fertility businesses. Men’s health companies, however, are having a moment too.
Legacy, a male fertility startup that won TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield competition at Disrupt Berlin 2018, is today announcing a $1.5 million seed round led by Bain Capital Ventures. The news follows an announcement from Dadi, a sperm storage business that closed on $2 million in capital commitments from London-based seed fund firstminute capital and New York-based Third Kind Venture Capital four months ago.
Founder and chief executive officer Khaleed Kteily tells TechCrunch that Legacy, which is based out of the Harvard Innovation Labs in Boston, will use the capital to expand its sperm analysis, improvement and cryogenic storage services.
Like the genetic testing business 23andMe, Legacy sends a collection kit directly to the homes of its customers, allowing them to masturbate and collect a sperm sample in the comfort of their own homes. Once the sample is mailed back to Legacy, the company tests the sperm collection’s mobility and morphology (the size and shape of the sperm), to identify the highest quality sperm to freeze. Legacy also sends men a sperm report, with an overall assessment of sperm health and lifestyle recommendations included.
“If it literally just entails masturbating at home to be able to preserve your ability to have a child for the rest of your life, we think that’s something everyone is going to be doing,” Kteily said. “What we are doing really comes down to changing the way people think about fertility. We have this view that fertility is a women’s issue but that’s just biologically wrong.”
Founded in January 2018, the company was created as a result of personal experience, as is often the case with fertility startups and healthtech companies more generally. Kteily, a former healthcare consultant, was dealing with a friend who was looking for sperm storage solutions while facing a cancer diagnosis and he himself had personally gone through the process of freezing his sperm only to realize how terrible it is.
“It was the singular most awkward experience of my life and I just kept thinking there’s got to be a better way to do this,” he said.
The long-term goal is to leverage its growing collection of data, which is end-to-end encrypted and HIPAA-compliant, to become a research center for male fertility. That, Kteily admits, will take many years and more capital (they are expecting to begin fundraising again very soon), but they aren’t in a rush.
“You can’t start a fertility company with the intention of just getting a profit in the next few years, you can’t cut corners or risk shutting down in the next few years,” he said. “We aren’t in it for a quick break. It’s not about moving fast and breaking things. It’s about moving as fast as possible without breaking anything.”