Where Are They Now: An Interview with MedAnswers’ Alice Crisci
In January 2018, infertility app MedAnswers closed a $145,702 funding round with 88 investors on StartEngine, and they recently announced that they closed a new $5M funding round a few months ago!
MedAnswers aims to help millions of infertile people worldwide by connecting patients with multi-disciplinary experts that are typically difficult and expensive to see in person.
At the time of their StartEngine campaign, MedAnswers was a mobile application in beta that provided educational content for people having difficulty conceiving. In August this year, MedAnswers announced that they had closed a $5M funding round, led by Special Situations’ Life Sciences Institute with participation from Viking Global Investors.
MedAnswers plans to use this $5M in order to continue the development of their renamed mobile application FertilityAnswers, which functions like a social media feed and lets users trying to conceive read medical information supplied by experts and allows those users to connect with board-certified professionals and ask questions directly.
We sat down with MedAnswers’ Founder & CEO Alice Crisci to discuss the founding of MedAnswers, her latest funding round, and what has happened since MedAnswers’ StartEngine raise.
Why did you found MedAnswers?
I founded MedAnswers for two reasons: 1. To end the spread of medical misinformation through other digital channels; 2. Solve a glaring and pressing “access” problem we have in our first vertical: fertility.
86% of the market is not accessing specialty fertility care. When I discovered over 150 million people with [infertility] are without specialty care for that disease, I simply could not look away and became obsessed with creating solutions to solve that problem.
Our solution is the first specialty healthcare marketplace connecting consumers to the specialists, solutions and even clinical trials they need to thrive despite their disease. Yes, infertility is a disease—it’s something the CDC and WHO agree on.
When did you know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
I can’t recall a time in my life in which I wasn’t a business owner or non-profit founder, but there was a shift from being a business owner / charity leader to being an entrepreneur. That unfolded over a couple of years helping other startups in the fertility space and realizing I had something unique to offer: a catalytic ability to create inertia, arguably the most important thing in building a new company.
When I had the original idea for MedAnswers, I knew I would go the venture funding route. [However,] I had never done it before and had a lot to learn, so our pre-seed funding included a Regulation Crowdfunding offering, which gave so many people who have believed in me for so many years the chance to participate in my project.
Why did you choose to raise capital through equity crowdfunding, and what was your experience with StartEngine?
MedAnswers was building a consumer solution we now call the FertilityAnswers App. I personally know many people touched by infertility. Both my business partner and I also know a significant number of professionals in the fertility field who are sophisticated or traditional investors.
Reg CF is a gamechanger in democratizing the individual’s ability to invest and grow wealth through privately-held startups. It was a no-brainer to us to give all people the option to invest in a great solution for a heartbreaking problem and to invest in a great team.
My first investor on StartEngine was a friend I met in the first grade. I had multiple friends from elementary school and high-school who live 3,000 miles away from me invest in the company.
How have things changed for MedAnswers since your StartEngine raise?
[We’ve experienced] massive growth. I raised over $6M from accredited investors since the StartEngine raise, grew the user base over 1,000%, grew our expert network over 100%, developed Intellectual Property, closed multiple partnerships, acquired health data on 90% of our user base, and most recently kickstarted the revenue engine.
MedAnswers is a fast-growth startup, and our StartEngine raise breathed life into us during the very early days of prototyping and beta release.
How would you describe your relationship with your StartEngine investors?
Motivational. I am most motivated by creating a big return for those investors who could only invest our minimum. Microinvestors are the ones I wake up at 4:30 every day to go to work for. I can’t wait to see the impact in their lives when they get that windfall. It’s extremely rewarding to make an economic impact in the lives of others through being an entrepreneur.
You recently closed a $5M round. Congratulations! Why did you decide to raise additional capital, and what’s next for MedAnswers?
When I was 20-years-old, I read a famous book by Mary Kay Ash and will never forget she said, “It takes money to make money.” We are a science and tech company – we can’t scale without proper funding.
I run a distributed team, so our salaries are lower than the average startup with world-class teammates because we let them work where they already are. I created about 40 jobs from the investment round – that feels amazing.
And those 40 people are mission-critical to our ability not just to scale the company, but to truly solve this access problem we have. Every individual, from my iOS engineer to my CSO, truly wants to solve this problem as a disruptor in health care. It takes a village, and it takes capital to fund the village.
Is there anything you’d like to say to the StartEngine community at large?
Thank you. Our StartEngine raise was a game-changer for us at a really critical time in our company’s history.
Thank you for investing in us, thank you for investing in other startups. Keep taking those risks – not all investments will pay off all the time but they always make a difference at the time you make them.
It takes time to build a sustainable company, so don’t expect ROI’s to start rolling in quickly – give your investments time to build, grow and mature as the company grows towards profitability, exit or IPO. Together we are changing the landscape of entrepreneurship and that is super exciting.