On a recent Tuesday night, a crowd of at least 100 women in their 20s and 30s gathered in a yellow-splashed loft space in Manhattan. Scented candles and tastefully potted plants filled the room. Relaxing music, the kind you might find in an upscale bar, played in the background. Laughter broke out when a pair of prosecco bottles were popped and glasses of bubbly were poured and passed out.
As the group sipped, Dr. Fahimeh Sasan, wearing a red fitted dress, walked to the front of the room. It was time to discuss the business at hand: egg freezing.
“The price we’re offering tonight is $5,000 per cycle, which includes anesthesia, retrieval and one year of storage,” she said. “Whatever age you are, today is the best day to freeze your eggs.”
This gathering occurs often at Kindbody, one of a handful of new stand-alone egg freezing boutiques taking the fertility industry — and a nation of millennial women — by storm.
“Our events always sell out,” said Rebecca Silver, director of marketing for Kindbody and the brain behind its slick campaigns, which include Instagram posts often generating tens of thousands of clicks and female empowerment-themed slogans like “Own your future” and “Plan your path.”
Since launching Kindbody in August 2018, Silver and her colleagues have prided themselves on knowing, and capturing the attention of, the egg-freezing market: millennial women looking for information and a sense of control when it comes to their fertility.
“Egg freezing has become like a mantra for how to be an independent woman,” Silver said. “The people who have frozen their eggs are doing the cool new thing. It’s part of the ‘You don’t need a man and if you’re single, you don’t have to have kids right now’ moment — a new wave of feminism.”
Over the last few years, start-up fertility establishments like Kindbody have become a popular alternative to traditional fertility clinics and hospitals — so much so that Wall Street is taking notice and traditional fertility doctors are issuing words of caution.
“It’s a little bit of a disruptor,” said one investor, Jon Santemma.
Santemma, co-founder of Regal Healthcare Capital Partners — which seeks out partnerships with “leading-edge” health care entrepreneurs — is among the investors betting on the continued growth of egg freezing. His financial backing is going to Extend Fertility, a rival to Kindbody that claims to be the first and busiest of the current crop of standalone egg freezing studios.
Since launching in 2016 in New York, Extend has overseen nearly 2,000 egg-freezing cycles, the process of retrieving and then freezing a woman’s eggs. A co-founder of the company, Dr. Joshua Klein, anticipates tens of thousands more cycles in Extend’s future. Extend plans to open locations on the West Coast before 2020.
“Just looking at the numbers, I think egg freezing as an industry is here to stay,” Santemma said. “The market’s growing 25 percent a year.”
Santemma isn’t the only investor shelling out for egg-freezing startups. Kindbody’s backers, Silver said, include Perceptive Life Sciences, a biotech hedge fund, and RRE, a venture capital firm.
Trellis Fertility Studio, which launched in November 2018 in New York, with plans to expand throughout North America, is under the umbrella of IntegraMed Fertility, an extensive network of fertility clinics backed by the private equity firm Sagard Capital.
As early as 2017, Wall Street investors were identifying the fertility market as one to watch.
“The U.S. fertility clinic market has come of age and is ripe for a merger and acquisition cycle,” Capstone Partners, an investment banking firm, wrote in 2017. “The wave is already beginning.”