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Glow Raises $17 Million, Offers More Evidence That the App Helps Women Conceive

Formation 8 led the round, with participation from Founders Fund and Andreessen Horowitz.

Courtesy: Glow

Glow, which develops apps designed to help women manage their reproductive health, has raised $17 million in a Series B round, as it looks to expand staff and develop additional products.

Formation 8 led the latest funding, joined by previous investors Founders Fund and Andreessen Horowitz.

The founding promise of the San Francisco startup, created within serial entrepreneur Max Levchin’s HVF Labs, was to help women conceive by providing guidance based on their sexual activity, menstruation cycle, level of cervical mucus, body mass index and other factors. The broader goal was to help couples avoid expensive treatments like in vitro fertilization, which can easily cost thousands of dollars out of pocket.

Since Levchin unveiled Glow at the D11 conference in May 2013, the company has added a pooled-risk fund for fertility treatments, features aimed at helping women prevent conception, a service targeted to businesses and an additional app to guide users through pregnancy.

It’s still difficult to tell how well Glow is doing, as the 21-employee company declines to disclose the number of downloads or active users. The only metric we have to go on is that the company recently claimed credit for helping 25,000 women conceive.

In truth, Glow can’t say for certain how many of those pregnancies were the direct result of its service. Sometimes couples trying to get pregnant just manage to get pregnant.

But the company’s “data scientists” (which is San Francisco for statistician, as the joke goes) are spotting correlations that they believe indicate the service is improving women’s odds.

For one, they see that users of the app on average conceive in less than half the amount of time it takes in the general population (though one could argue that the self-selecting group of people using the app are different from the general population in various ways).

The arguably more convincing stat is that active Glow users are 40 percent more likely to get pregnant than infrequent users of the app.

Chief Executive Mike Huang highlighted two examples where the collected data is helping the company improve the chances of conception.

They see that a third of women are off by six days or more in estimating their menstrual cycle length, while half are four or more days off. Merely moving them closer to their actual “fertility window” can markedly improve outcomes.

Glow can also spot signs that users may be at risk for things like endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome, conditions implicated in infertility that are treatable and covered by insurance, Huang said. The company doesn’t provide a diagnosis — nor can it — but does advise users to talk to their doctors.

Huang said they’re looking to expand staff pretty much across the board, including operations, sales and marketing, product development and the data science team.

The new funding round pushes the startup’s total to nearly $23 million. As part of the deal, Joe Lonsdale of Formation 8, Nellie Levchin of HVF and Brian Singerman of Founders Fund are joining Glow’s board.

“The health space is huge, and growing every day, but few startups are tackling these types of hard problems and developing solutions to improve lives at this scale,” Lonsdale wrote in a blog post.

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