Today, we’re announcing a $27 million Series B led by Sequoia Capital and Oak HC/FT to help hundreds of thousands more women and families get the healthcare they need.
In 1972, TIME ran a splashy cover featuring “The American Woman”. The special issue shows a silhouette of a female head overstuffed with baby toys, credit cards, and a button reading “Shirley Chisholm for President”. Forty-five years later, in 2017, TIME devoted six covers to women, including the “Person of the Year” award. But whereas the 1972 version was a bit reductive, the covers of 2017 were unapologetically real. Because what we started to talk about in 1972, and what is now at the center of our cultural dialogue, is that women’s issues affect our entire world — from the individual, to our families, our society, our government, and our economy.
But acknowledgement isn’t enough. Today, 43% of new moms still drop out of the workforce within the first year after having a child. This exacerbates the wage gap and the female leadership gap at big companies — and it is a problem that many American companies are finally starting to realize and address. When our very systems are the blockers of progress, real change requires rethinking and reshaping the systems from within. And doing this, critically, requires investment.
So here’s the good news: this is not an article pontificating on the inequities of dishwashing and childrearing. This is a fundraise announcement.
Maven, the women’s and family health company my team and I started nearly five years ago, focuses on changing the complex and entrenched healthcare system from within. Our mission is to provide women and new families support, both personal and professional, in ways we used to only imagine — including on-demand access to fertility experts, pregnancy and postpartum specialists, and dedicated back-to-work coaching that makes juggling a career and a growing family possible. In fact, Maven has empowered me throughout my own two pregnancies in the last two years and I couldn’t imagine juggle being CEO and a mother without this support. Today, we are proud to announce that Maven has raised $27 million in Series B funding led by Sequoia Capital and Oak HC/FT that will enable us to reach hundreds of thousands more women and families.
We will use the capital today to double down on Maven’s Family Benefits platform, to support more women in the workforce, more women in leadership positions, more diverse families, and more confident working parents. Today we’re launching our latest feature, breastmilk shipping, which is an important component of our return-to-work program as it equips working parents to travel.
This investment will not only engender change — it is itself a sign of change. Jess Lee, who is leading the investment from Sequoia, is the firm’s first-ever female investment partner in the US. Oak, which is led by Annie Lamont, is the only female-led venture capital firm in healthcare — and Nancy Brown, a female partner who spent more than two decades at leading healthcare companies, is leading their investment. This is what happens when we create change from within — when women start to drive capital allocation decisions — which they didn’t in 1972, and are only starting to today.
The market is not just listening, but acting. We’ve grown 14x in the last 12 months and now serve some of the world’s largest multinationals. Employers are increasingly acknowledging that recovery from episiotomies, and problems like incontinence and depression, are the norm after childbirth, not the exception; that the emotional turmoil of IVF, adoption, miscarriage, and returning to work, or the insufficient parental leave for both genders, can have negative repercussions at work and at home for all parents. Further, we’re proud to support women and families across all genders, orientations, and a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds, living everywhere from California to Alabama to the United Kingdom. We’ve helped more than 150,000 people get access to care and were used in 166 countries last year.
This isn’t only about gender equality. It’s about moving the largest industry in the U.S., healthcare, into a more efficient and humane system where all patients can get better and more democratized access to care, affordably. In an industry that desperately needs reform, focusing on the core patient — women — and the core experience of millennials starting families, is critical to fixing the systemic dysfunction.
I do not wear rose-colored glasses, but I do think that, in spite of the harsh realism of our time — and perhaps in part because of it — this is a moment where practical change is afoot. Part of this change starts with female investors having access to meaningful capital; it starts with innovators at every level of the healthcare system who have fought an uphill battle to get us to this inflection point; and it starts with more fundraise announcements like this one. This isn’t longing for a seat at the table. This is knocking it down and building a better one.