Women Startup Challenge Finalist Denise Terry and EmbraceFamily Health

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EmbraceFamily Health is a digital therapeutics company transforming maternal-child healthcare. It is a digital health program that is developed by leading maternal-fetal medical authorities and to help mothers have the healthiest possible pregnancies and babies, while complementing the care from their own providers.

Watch Denise Terry‘s pitch by clicking the video above.

What inspired you to start this company?

As a serial entrepreneur, I have experience leading companies that scale to millions of users. I took a tech sabbatical in between startups and launched a prenatal health and wellness business. I became an expert in pregnancy and birth as a certified birth doula, childbirth educator, prenatal fitness expert and prenatal massage therapist. I supported hundreds of pregnant mothers and witnessed firsthand the joys and challenges inherent with pregnancy and birth. I learned that pregnancy is a complex health condition that is unique for every mother, yet our healthcare system is set up deliver a ‘one size fits all’ approach to pregnancy care. Risks are often missed because of the disconnect between mother and doctor (patients see their doctors once a month for very short visits). Pregnancy education is inadequate, and especially first-time mothers are unaware of what to do to have a healthy pregnancy and increase their chances for a positive birth and healthy baby.

I worked with the top OBGYNs and midwives in Silicon Valley, yet saw how little technology innovation there was in the field of maternal health. I vowed to start a technology company that could truly disrupt maternal-child health and improve outcomes in maternity. I also learned that the U.S. ranks 40th in the world for maternal-child health, is the most dangerous and expensive country to give birth in the developed world, and is the only OECD country where outcomes are getting worse each year — despite the fact we spend $110 billion on maternal-child health each year. When I was a birth doula ten years ago, the C-section rate was 25%; now it is 35%. We have to change these statistics, for the sake of mothers and babies throughout the country.
After I gave birth to my twins (who are now eight years old), I realized how scary it is for pregnant mothers who are considered “high risk”, and how little patient education exists to empower mothers to improve their own outcomes. However, I had the benefit of a highly trained OBGYN specialized in high risk pregnancy. I’m living proof that access to excellent maternal care, combined with pregnancy education and the support of a birth doula, leads to optimal outcomes. I delivered my twins full-term at 40 weeks at a healthy seven pounds each.
Three years ago, I teamed up with the obstetrician that delivered my twins to develop the best maternal-health technology to improve clinical outcomes. We are truly committed to building a lasting company that improves the health of mothers and babies in the U.S. and around the world.

What has been your greatest lesson thus far?

As a health technology company, our challenge is that we are attempting to innovate and disrupt a century-old healthcare system with perversely misaligned incentives. Doing anything fast in healthcare is challenging, and it takes true commitment and more perseverance than previous industries I’ve worked in (mobile, SaaS, consumer Internet, e-commerce, even security).

What is the biggest pain point you’re solving within your business?

We’ve been bootstrapped for more than two years, and have raised a small amount of friends and family funding to-date. We are now raising our seed round and pitching angel investors and are looking for investors who understand the market potential for our solution and believe we can make money while also building a lasting company that has positive impact on millions of lives.

What’s your proudest moment thus far? (Go ahead and brag!)

Our maternity app was the first and only pregnancy guide written exclusively by licensed obstetrician-gynecologists. In the three years our app was live, we supported half a million registered mothers (that’s a lot of babies!) and were recommended by thousands of OBGYNs. During a typical OBGYN’s career, she can deliver on average about 10,000-20,000 babies. Yet we were able to scale the trusted advice of obstetricians through our mobile apps and reach more than 20x that number of pregnant moms in just three years.

What is the one thing your potential customer needs to know about your product?

We are exclusively endorsed by the American Pregnancy Association, the leading non-profit authority on fertility and pregnancy health. We were developed by a Stanford-trained obstetrician who co-authored the clinical textbook on Obstetrics, Gynecology and Infertility, used by all U.S. medical residents in OBGYN. We are a trusted, clinically-focused mobile source for maternal health guidance, and will soon be offering a free digital obstetrician via app and text to enable all pregnant mothers to access personalized health guidance and ask questions anytime day or night from an AI-enabled OBGYN.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Please connect with us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/pregnancycompanionapp) and share us with pregnant mothers (and fathers!) as well as your OBGYN doctor or midwife!

You can watch all 10 of the Women Startup Challenge Finalists pitch their companies here. Follow this link for more information on the Women Startup Challenge.

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