The business of getting pregnant is attracting a lot of attention from venture capitalists. The number of startups innovating in the fertility space has skyrocketed in recent years, and investors are chasing an industry that is expected to reach $36 billion by 2023.
Peanut, the free app that’s been dubbed “Tinder for Moms,” just closed a $5 million round of funding, bringing its total raise to $9.8 million since its launch in 2017.
Now, Peanut’s founder and CEO Michelle Kennedy is taking the app to the next level by launching Trying to Conceive or TTC, an online community where women can share their experiences with infertility, pregnancy loss, and adoption. Women will be able to access the platform through Peanut.
Kennedy says the idea to build out TTC was born from conversations she noticed a growing number of women were having on the Peanut platform.
“One in 7 women are going to go through fertility challenges,” says Kennedy, who is a mother of two.
“We’re looking at aggregated data, and we’re using that to inform product decisions,” says Kennedy. “So if we see lots of women talking about a topic, it means we can build a specific feature within the product to serve that.”
Peanut, which has over one million active users, lets moms “swipe” to make new connections with other parents based on things like common interests, age and gender of children, and neighborhoods, so they can share support and advice about motherhood.
Kennedy has deep experience with the match-making business model – she was a board member of the dating app Bumble and deputy CEO of Badoo before starting her online community for moms.
Index Ventures, Female Founders Fund and Ashton Kutcher’s VC firm, Sound Ventures, are among the investors in Peanut. “We have a good mix. We have female investors and we have an equal amount of male investors,” Kennedy tells Yahoo Finance. “Really, this is about seeing the business opportunity. Women are 50% of the population, and I think we deserve a product that represents us, and I think all of our investors see that.”
The app is ad-free, something Kennedy hopes to preserve. “You can never say never, but ultimately that’s not where we see the business model.” And Kennedy stresses that Peanut does not share data with third parties saying, “It’s not something we believe in.”
What she does envision is offering a premium model that would allow women to pay for access to things like health experts on a particular topic such as sleep or infertility treatments.
“At the moment we’re really focused on the product, we’re data obsessive, so we’re constantly building the product according to how we see use,” Kennedy says.
Shoutout to a royal mom
Realizing that all moms need support, Peanut recently penned an open letter to Meghan Markle, after the Duchess of Sussex revealed during an interview in South Africa that she was struggling with being a royal and a new mom.
The letter promised “to stand with you every step of the way.”
Markle got wind of the letter and personally called Kennedy to thank her. “She was very appreciative of the sentiment,” says Kennedy, who described talking to the Duchess on the phone as “wild.”
So, will Meghan Markle become part of the Peanut community? “I hope so,” says Kennedy. “We know she’s such a tremendous supporter of women, and all of the women who use Peanut talk about her frequently with so much support and admiration.”
Alexis Christoforous is co-anchor of Yahoo Finance’s “The First Trade.” Follow her on Twitter @AlexisTVNews.