Martin Varsavsky ’83SIPA, ’85BUS, has six flourishing businesses already under his belt – a leader, even among prolific entrepreneurs – teaches entrepreneurship at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs, and now has turned his attention towards yet another venture: Prelude Fertility, which has already grabbed $200 million in equity funding.
Prelude Fertility aims to leverage existing infertility technologies, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) and egg freezing, and take itself national in order to change the equation for women who are trying to balance starting a family and building a career. As Varsavsky puts it, “We’re about helping women and couples have healthy babies when they’re ready.”
Varsavsky has made his career on identifying “unique opportunities in big markets.” For example, as a graduate student at Columbia University, he launched a venture called Urban Capital that converted New York City industrial spaces into residential lofts. Two years later he co-founded a biotech startup called Medicorp Sciences that was a pioneer in the fight against AIDS during the mid-80s. He then moved towards tech, launching a string of incredibly successful ventures throughout the 90s and 2000s. FON, which he founded in 2006 and where he remains chairman, is backed by such investors as Google, Skype, Sequoia Capital and Index Ventures and has $71.86M in equity funding.
The idea for Prelude was actually born out of personal experience. Six years ago, he and his wife Nina, were struggling to start a family of their own. They conceived their first child together through IVF, then froze their eggs and sperm for future use. Today, they have two healthy children, with a third on the way — that third child will be Prelude’s first “success story”.
Varsavsky certainly has a vested personal interest in Prelude, but as with all of his ventures, there is a major opportunity at hand — according to Forbes, the IVF industry currently generates about $2 billion each year and is growing at a rate of approximately 10%, year over year. Moreover, the industry is fragmented, has outdated marketing, and its reputation is struggling. In fact, more than 66% of IVF cycles are unsuccessful. Varsavsky hopes that by focusing its efforts on procuring eggs from women at an earlier age (in their 20s and early 30s), they’ll be able to tell more stories of success and reshape the public’s opinion of infertility treatment.
Interested in learning more about how Prelude Fertility wants to change the industry? Read more here.