Fertility and Vulnerability
Episode 29
November 24, 2020

Fertility and Vulnerability

with Afton Vechery, Co-Founder and CEO of Modern Fertility

Afton Vechery is the Co-Founder and CEO of Modern Fertility. Modern Fertility is a women's health company focused on making fertility information more accessible to women everywhere. Providing fertility hormone essentials from at home tests to digital tools and an online community, Modern Fertility is designed to inform women about their reproductive health so they can own the decisions impacting their bodies and future. In this episode, Afton shares with us her entrepreneurial journey from growing up in Maryland, to participating in a science fair in high school that ignited the launch of her first company, to working in private equity in New York where she dug into women's health issues surrounding fertility, to joining a number of health tech startups, including 23andMe which she left to start Modern Fertility, raising over 22 million dollars to date and recently launching her products in over 1500 Walmart stores.

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In This Episode You’ll Hear About:

  • How growing up in rural Maryland and discovering a personal passion for water quality in her community led to a love of science and a desire to work in that space where science can make a difference in public health
  • How she started her first company while in high school and landed a scholarship to Wake Forest University to study science and business with the requirement to keep starting companies while she studied and what kind of discoveries that led to as a result
  • What took her from the company Kera10 which she started, to working in finance at a private equity firm in New York City right after college
  • Why she left private equity and moved to San Francisco looking for something more fulfilling and worked with an early autism behavioral phenotyping company, a wireless breast pump company, and then 23andMe
  • How she started Modern Fertility and what her initial fundraising was like with the topic of fertility at the forefront of conversation 
  • Why it is so exciting to now find Modern Fertility products in 1500 Walmart stores in the US and what a customer now receives with that
  • How she met her Co-Founder, Carly, and what is next for Modern Fertility and their mission to make fertility information more accessible to women everywhere


To Find Out More:

modernfertility.com


Quotes:


“And so it was really understanding that we have this massive fertility information gap that is fueled by celebrity pregnancies not telling us the dynamics of their specific journeys and just this broader kind of cultural moment that creates kind of this difference between expectations and realities.”


“I think really holding yourself accountable to being intentional around how you were spending your time and what you were prioritizing, I think that's one of the hardest things about an early stage company or really any role.”




“As I look at just every kind of threshold that we've had as a company, you build the muscle to really look at those challenges differently. And you're kind of threshold of what you even view as a challenge just continues to increase.”


“So I think the role of a CEO is to get a C minus, hopefully not an F, but a C minus in a lot of different things, not let any balls drop and then try to hire experts that can do that job 10x better than you would ever dream of doing it and being able to have a really collaborative relationship with those folks to get it to the next level.”


“I really think just the team that you bring on and hire will continue along with the broader strategy to define success.”


“As a Founder/CEO, you're looking at your company as a product. And you really need to transition your mindset to really thinking about all of the dynamics of your company and where it exists in the broader ecosystem as defining your success.”


“I love criticism honestly. I just thrive on people poking holes in different ideas. And I think when you can really dive in and have exciting arguments, you're building a better and better company.”


“We were one of the first research reports that came out around how Coronavirus was impacting fertility. And what we found is that nearly a third of respondents were delaying their family planning decisions because of COVID.”


“I think diving back to that concept of taking a first step, making that list... That's really, I think, the core essence of entrepreneurship.”


“So I had the idea. But I knew that I wanted a Co-Founder. And I think that that's a really important distinction to make…”


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