A new app is using data technology to help women get pregnant, and crowdfunding their fertility treatment if they don’t.
Glow, a startup launched by PayPal founder Max Levchin, uses fertility-tracking to help couples conceive. The free app allows users to input information about body temperature, ovulation, diet, and other data points. Glow then draws conclusions from its users’ combined data and provides health tips, advice about the best days to get pregnant, and factors that may influence their fertility.
Since Glow launched in May 2013, “thousands of babies” have been born to app users, said Glow CEO Mike Huang in an interview with Quartz.
Glow recently added a not-for-profit premium program called Glow First. The crowdfunding model allows couples to pay upfront and pool the risk of infertility with other couples, paying $50 a month into the program until they get pregnant. Couples who don’t conceive within 10 months can apply for grants to help defray the cost of fertility treatments.
Last week, Glow announced it will encourage employers to offer free access to Glow First as an employer-paid health benefit. Two fast-growing Silicon Valley companies, Eventbrite and Evernote, have already signed up.
Employees don't have to sign up through their employer but can join Glow using a company email address or a photo of their pay stub. Glow sends the employer a bill for the total number of users at the end of each month without disclosing their names.
The market for fertility assistance is large and growing rapidly. In vitro fertilization (IVF) led to more than 60,000 births in the United States in 2012, a 2,000-birth increase from the previous year, according to a report released by the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology. That means 1 or 2 out of every 100 births was the result of IVF. But a single IVF cycle costs an average of $12,400, and most people need more than one cycle to get pregnant. In most states that cost is not covered by insurance policies.
Levchin and Huang were both successful technology entrepreneurs in other industries before they started Glow.
“We got together and wanted to tackle the hardest problem that could be solved by applying data to it,” Huang said in an interview with Fox Business News. “The healthcare system is a broken system, but healthcare is big. … Fertility was an interesting place to start.”