MFB Fertility Inc. has come a long way in the five or so years since Amy Beckley developed the company’s first fertility test kit in her basement.
The company has taken on an additional founder, rebranded, grown its staff to six, diversified its product offerings, and earlier this month successfully raised a $6.75 million funding round.
With this latest windfall — which could grow to $10 million in the coming weeks if the fundraising is fully subscribed — the company, which many customers know by its trade name Proov, is out to prove it’s more than a fertility testing company.
Since bringing on cofounder Ellen Schell a couple of years after Beckley developed the company’s first test kits, MFB Fertility (the MFB stands for “My Fabulous Basement”) has branched out into hormone tests for a variety of uses such as menstruation and menopause.
“We’re more than just fertility,” Beckley told BizWest. “We’re hitting on women’s hormonal health and hormonal wellness. We’re moving away from just helping women try to conceive and into helping women manage their cycle and live their best lives.”
The company, which seeks to become women’s one-stop shop for hormone health, has developed an app that tells women when to test, analyzes results, and provides an action plan that can include using the company’s proprietary supplements.
The recently raised funds will be used to fully build out the digital platform, for product development related to the line of supplements, for expanding MFB’s presence in the United States, for breaking into international markets and for building a network of physician partners, Beckley said.
“We’ve been operating on a shoestring budget for the past couple of years,” Schell said, and the investment helps form a “foundation that allows us to build this business appropriately into all of these other channels.”
Beckley and Schell, a marketer by training and trade, connected after Beckley participated in a 2018 MedTech Innovator showcase in Denver. At the time, Beckley said she was running the business as a “side-hustle” and was looking for help taking the next step.
“I’m a scientist; I don’t know anything about marketing,” she acknowledged.
During their first meeting at a Louisville wine bar, Schell said she was “so inspired by Amy’s grit and her ability to create a medical product in her basement” and agreed to join the team.
In terms of branding, Schell was in search of something punchy, something less of a mouthful for consumers, and something that wouldn’t pigeonhole the budding startup.
Eventually inspiration hit and she landed on Proov, a portmanteau of sorts of the first letters in the words “progesterone” and “ovulation.”
That the founders connected after a regional industry event is evidence of the strength of Colorado’s tight-knit life sciences business community, Beckley said.
“The Colorado ecosystem has been amazing,” she said. “… I don’t know if we were in a state on the coasts we would have survived.”
Proov finds itself in an attractive position for investors as the “femtech” industry, which refers to health technology geared towards women, appears poised for expansion.
Beckley and Schell take pride in being a women-owned, women-led business making products to improve the lives of other women.
It’s not always easy for companies that fit that description to win the attention — and dollars — of investors.
“Sometimes I do feel that men have a lower bar” when it comes to impressing investors, Beckley said. “There’s some distrust, I guess, in that women have to prove themselves more [than men] to get the same investment.”
These additional challenges make MFB’s success even sweeter, she said.
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