I met Dr Jennifer Hintzsche, PhD, and Terra LaRock, a licensed psychologist through my coaching work and was so inspired by their mission to help mothers and women that I ended up introducing them--and wanted to feature them here. They both run starts ups in the Femtech space and are in the process of raising their seed rounds--Terra at Mindful Mamas, a maternal mental health DTC app, and Jennifer at PherDal, the first ever over the counter fertility treatment. Their personal stories that led them to launch these business can be found here and here.
According to PitchBook's All In: Female Founders in the US VC Ecosystem, US VC deal value for female founders reached $32.4 billion through the third quarter of 2022, exceeding record highs set in 2021. Despite progress, the numbers underscore that the industry is still a long way from equal gender and diversity representation. Female investors account for just 16.1% of VC decision-makers in the US. And, 95.5% of VC firms STILL have a majority male population of decision-makers. More qualified women however are choosing to start their own female focused VC funds which will hopefully shift this trend as we move forward. Firms like Willow Growth Partners, Capstar Ventures, and so many others are investing in early stage female founded companies and are giving women entrepreneurs hope that their companies can succeed!
In Jennifer and Terra's cases specifically, I've been amazed at their grit and passion working towards their similar, but individual causes based on personal experiences that helped shaped the women, mothers, and entrepreneurs that they have become.
Finding your purpose and passion in your work (or outside of work) is an important exercise, and one we go through in my coaching program. The research shows that working in an unfulfilling job that is misaligned with your values, can contribute to burnout. But in Jennifer and Terra's case, I would argue, they have both have found their callings, and you can feel that when you talk to them.
I'm excited to see where these two entrepreneurs will take their companies, and I would encourage you to try their products, follow them, and invest if you are interested in supporting female founders. More info below, or please contact me if you are interested in viewing their pitch decks.
PherDal is developing the first FDA-cleared, sterile, patent-pending, assisted reproduction kit as an affordable, over-the-counter fertility option. The fertility treatment market was valued at $14.27 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach $21.7 billion by 2025. Invented & led by Northern Illinois University’s first recipient of a doctoral degree in bioinformatics, whose clinical research has been cited over 500 times by peers and was most recently Director of Product for a 15M+ revenue SaaS company.
After 16 months of infertility and a diagnosis of unexplained infertility, Jennifer used her Ph.D. in Biology to
invent a medical device that, in two months, conceived her daughter. The 200 proof of concept kits sold out last year in 90 days and brought 22 new babies into our PherDal Phamily. PherDal is working with the FDA to become the first FDA-cleared at-home assisted reproduction kit, the same device today only used in a fertility clinic. PherDal will provide the first OTC fertility option to the 12.2 million women in the US trying to conceive right now. Their crowdfunding equity campaign raised over $500K in a few weeks to pay for FDA clearance and offer the first patented PherDal Kits to market in early 2023. Link to their crowdfunding raise is here.
"This door opening brings us newfound hope, a path we never thought we could try."
Mindful Mamas — the maternal mental health app for the entire motherhood journey.
Mindful Mamas created the first program that spans the entire lifecycle of the mother—from trying to conceive through empty nesting. Our app uses mindfulness, meditation, mood tracking, emotional awareness, and sleep support to promote positive mental well-being outcomes for our mothers. Highlights:
World-class growth team (former: Lyft, Uptime, Peanut)
175,000 total downloads; 60% MoM increase in last 3 months
18,000 MAU; engaged users use the app 2x a day
51% 30-day listener retention (Benchmark: 11%)
1 in 4 reviews says our app is "life-changing"
Founded by a licensed psychologist
"Just wanted to thank you for the beautiful meditations you have for those of us going through the pain and grief of a miscarriage.I had a missed miscarriage 4 years ago and it was one of the hardest things I have ever been through. I am currently going through another miscarriage and I have just worked my way through your meditations. They are truly beautiful and are helping me so much, more than counseling or anything else I have tried. I am so very grateful and wish I had had these 4 years ago. Thank you for everything you do, you have made a huge difference in my parenting journey."
Dr. Jennifer Hintzsche, Ph.D.
Chief Executive Officer
Dr. Jenn is a wife, mother, innovator, and passionate advocate for women’s health. Hintzsche was Northern Illinois University’s first recipient of a doctoral degree in bioinformatics (a field of study that combines computer science and biology) in 2014 after obtaining a Master's Degree in the same subject. She earned her BA in Biochemistry from Augustana College. She is the author of over two-dozen peer-reviewed scientific articles and her work has been cited nearly 500 times in respected science journals for her clinical expertise.Dr. Jenn was diagnosed with unexplained infertility in 2017 and was told expensive fertility options were her only chance at conceiving. Hintzsche and husband Ryan invented and conceived their daughter using their patent-pending PherDal kit. PherDal is the only sterile at-home insemination kit that has already helped over a dozen women conceive. PherDal is located in Dixon, IL and is registered with the FDA as an over the counter medical device.
Terra LaRock, ED.S
FOUNDER AND CEO
I'm Terra LaRock, a wife and mother to Winter & Lennon.
After battling with PPD/OCD after my first, I decided to step away from practicing psychology in the public sector and now use my background and experience to teach Mothers all over the world how develop a mindfulness practice through The Mindful Mamas Club.
Perry (my husband), Winter, Lennon and our Husky, Rio, are the loves of my life. Together in the city of the Rocky Mountains of Colorado we are aiming to create a simple life compiled of family adventures, connection, and a whole lot of love.