A new generation of families is driving demand for modern family-planning solutions, though their needs are not being met.
The Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society estimates that on average, one in six Canadians experience infertility. However, advocates have said there are still barriers to getting timely and affordable care. “We are under-servicing a huge population of Canadians who actually need this care,” Carolynn Dubé, executive director with Fertility Matters Canada, told Global News.
Toronto-based fertility clinic Twig Fertility aims to fill that gap with tech. The company has raised $8 million CAD in a Series A funding round led by Rhino Ventures, with participation from its founders and existing shareholders, to support its growth plans, including the development of its proprietary healthtech platform.
“The medicine was there, but the service, technology, and emotional support were not.”
A spokesperson for Twig told BetaKit that the $8 million was raised across two tranches, in February and June. The transaction was all primary and equity capital. The company declined to share the existing investors that participated in the round and its total funding to date. It previously secured $250,000 in seed funding from Well Health’s investment arm.
Twig describes itself as a “modern and tech-enabled clinic.” According to Twig, its platform will use personal health and demographic data to optimize each patient’s treatment plan and work toward their family-building goals. The company is currently preparing for its release.
Twig was founded by Tanner Kohara, who said he and his wife felt like “faceless numbers at sterile clinics” as they began family planning.
“The medicine was there, but the service, technology, and emotional support were not,” Kohara said. “There was no transparency in pricing or cost.”
With the aim to improve the “convoluted fertility experience,” Kohara tapped Zach Shapiro and Dr. Rhonda Zwingerman to join as co-founders, in the roles of CEO and medical director, respectively.
The trio set out to address the time and cost required for family-building, opening its fertility clinic and in vitro fertilization (IVF) laboratory in midtown Toronto in 2022.
Twig’s services include fertility consults, egg freezing, family building for LGBT2SQ+, early pregnancy care, as well as IVF and fertility treatments, among others. It also has an in-house pharmacy, reproductive counsellor, and a range of wellness partners from acupuncture to nutrition.
In addition to developing its platform, Twig plans to use the funding to recruit and retain additional fertility specialists and open additional clinic locations across Canada. The company said further details surrounding its expansion plans will be released at a later date.
Twig represents Rhino’s first investment in a fertility business. According to Rhino partner Jay Rhind, private equity firms have been targeting fertility clinics for the last decade, largely because of what he describes as “clinic level profitability and demand tailwinds.”
Twig’s business model as a clinic is often not associated with venture capital. According to Rhind, Rhino makes a habit of investing in businesses that many VCs don’t believe are “venture-backable,” arguing that the white space between venture and private equity comes with attractive risk and reward opportunities.
The opportunity that Rhino sees in Twig is improving the care model for patients, addressing the need for enhanced patient outcome, experience, and accessibility.
“From an investment perspective we believe building the largest ‘de novo’ built clinic network in Canada has a very strong return potential,” Rhind said.
Featured image courtesy Twig Fertility.