Start-Up Spotlight | EmbraceFamily

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The initial capital used to start a business. As in the “pre-seed” stage, seed capital may come from company founders’ personal assets or personal network but also from “angel investors,” who typically receive equity in the company. 

Launched in 2013, this San Francisco-based start-up connects mothers and families to a digital network of obstetricians, pediatricians, geneticists and lactation consultants. “Healthy families start with healthy mothers and babies,” says CEO and cofounder Denise Terry, a serial tech entrepreneur and mother of twins. Terry teamed up with Dr. Jan Rydfors, a world-renowned educator in obstetrics, to launch their service, which has, to date, raised $400,000 in funding. Terry says EmbraceFamily has plans to raise another seed round of $1 million.

EmbraceFamily’s current offerings include the Pregnancy Companion MD app, a so-called “digital obstetrician” for expectant mothers that has more than 500K registered users. They also refer their users to the First Opinion app, their partnering start-up, which members can use to text a physician for free. Membership is also free, but à la carte fees do apply for specialty consults, such as texting a photo to the corresponding physician using the First Opinion app; that function requires a $9/month subscription. –Erika Hunter

5 questions with EmbraceFamily CEO Denise Terry

What problem are you addressing?

As providers, we realized how our patients lacked one source of credible, mobile medical and health information to help them self-manage their own care. We understand patient challenges yet have little time during office visits to address all of our patients’ questions and concerns.

When it came to finding the right telemedicine partner, what made you decide to utilize off-shore physicians?

There are two sides of that. One is the business side – what is most cost effective – and the other is the question of the user experience. We are very consumer focused, so the answer for me is whatever is in the best interest of the consumer. Where can the consumer get the most cost effective, responsive, 24/7 positive patient experience from trusted providers who are certified doctors. I won’t comment on if off-shoring is better . . . it’s definitely cheaper. As a consumer, would I rather pay $9 a month or $99 a month? I’d rather pay $9.

What are your company’s biggest challenges?

Keeping pregnant women engaged after the birth is challenging because new moms focus most of their time, effort and attention on their baby. We are extending our solution to include postpartum, lactation and pediatrics to extend the relationship with our users beyond the pregnancy. One of our biggest challenges is also recruiting trusted providers to provide services through our platform. Lastly, hiring the right people who fit with our company’s values and mission can be a challenge, especially as we are looking for providers who are technology-savvy as well as technology people with a passion for healthcare. 

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