01 Mar 2016
FertilityIQ brings transparency to the perplexing world of IVFRe: Tyra Banks (OPM 42)by Julia Hanna Topics:
Illustration by Marcos Chin
When they married, Deborah and Jake Anderson (MBA 2010) knew that they might have difficulty starting a family due to a preexisting medical condition. They began consulting with fertility specialists early on, only to discover the outlook was dimmer than they’d thought: In addition to Deborah’s ovarian cysts, Jake had a lower- than-normal sperm count.
The couple went through three rounds of fertility treatment, all unsuccessful. Their experience made one thing clear: “We had no idea what we were in for,” Jake says. “Nothing in life is perfect, but we just didn’t know the good and bad of the clinics we used.” In one case, a medical oversight resulted in a trip to the ER for Deborah, despite the clinic’s high-profile reputation. Someone, they thought, should do something about the lack of accessible information in this complex, delicate corner of the medical world.
Although the couple were happily employed—Deborah at a startup, Jake at VC firm Sequoia Capital—the Andersons realized they were that someone. Both left their jobs in 2014 and used personal savings to begin work on FertilityIQ, an ad-free website where patients fill out a comprehensive survey of their clinic experience in exchange for access to a complete database of anonymous reviews. (The information is verified by the patient, who submits a scan of a clinic document, and will also be available for a monthly subscription fee to those considering treatment options.)
To develop FertilityIQ’s assessment form, Jake and Deborah sought input from close to 50 other couples as well as three fertility doctors to ensure that they captured a full spectrum of concerns outside their own. In addition to providing demographic and medical particulars, treatment regimens, and personal preferences, patients give detailed feedback on everything from a clinic’s billing department to its doctors’ and nurses’ bedside manner. “People who have been through this want to see it go better for others,” says Jake, noting that they currently have reviews covering 60 percent of fertility doctors and 90 percent of all clinics in the United States. “High-quality assessments are the lifeblood of what we’re offering,” he adds. “Every new review helps hopeful parents and women trying to have a baby.”
FertilityIQ launched in February; until then, the Andersons shared data with those who had contributed through free, personal Skype sessions. “Every call reminded us that we were dealing with a very human subject and creating something by, and for, a community,” says Jake.
“Seeing in real time how helpful the data is has been really exciting,” says Deborah, adding that she and Jake are well aware of the stigma surrounding fertility issues in an era of “picture-perfect” social media identities. Creating a community where people can share their experiences while improving the outcome for themselves and others brings the topic a bit more forward as celebrities such as Tyra Banks (OPM 42, 2012) and Nicole Kidman open up about their experiences with IVF; last year, Mark Zuckerberg also spoke publicly about the multiple miscarriages his wife had on their way to having a baby.
For their part, the Andersons also have news to report. Not long after deciding to try conceiving without fertility treatments, the couple became pregnant. They’re expecting a baby in April.
Class of MBA 2010, Section B