Tell us a little bit about yourself and your career background?
I have worked in healthcare for over 12 years. In that time I have worked for the United Nations, the UK Department of Health, the NHS, and private equity. Until recently I was the Managing Director of a multinational advisory business called the Marwood Group. I built the European subsidiary of the company and led a successful team advising investors on healthcare transactions with a cheque size ranging from £50m-£1bn.
I have been lucky to work across both the public and private sectors. Health care provision is complicated and having exposure to both enables me to understand the system and support individuals to access services, which is my ultimate goal.
What led you to the decision to switch career paths?
I don’t look at the next phase of my career as a switch, but as an evolution. In the early part of my career, the focus of my work was on improving access to healthcare services. By the time I started working for the NHS the policy on healthcare access was very focused on the use of technology, most of which was owned by private companies – from Apple and Fitbit to EMIS (which supports NHS medical records). This was a revelation for me. I realised that the future of healthcare was going to look very different, and that I did not yet have the full commercial or business acumen to succeed.
It was then that I moved to set up the Marwood Group in Europe. I had several goals: to learn how to set up and run a successful international company, to gain a deep understanding of how investors make decisions, and to ensure that the decisions investors made were supported by knowledge of the healthcare system they were investing into. It’s been an amazing four years and whilst I will continue to work with investors, the next phase for me involves taking the commercial skills I have developed and applying them to a company improving access to healthcare.
Tell us more about the inspiration behind your startup?
The idea behind Fertility Mapper developed last year when I was working on a project mapping the European fertility market for an investor. It so happened that at the time the project came in I was considering freezing my eggs. I brought the subject up over dinner with a number of friends, some of whom revealed that they were considering IVF, while others had been thinking about how they manage work aspirations and their future fertility.
It was then that I realised how many women were going through IVF or considering some form of fertility treatment. It also became clear to me that whilst I could rattle off information on a number of providers and services across Europe, and had some insight into their pros and cons, my friends and colleagues where struggling to find a simple list of providers they could trust. They were spending hours trawling through blogs and individual clinic websites. The seed was planted, so to speak. I wanted to help.
What needs to change about the current fertility healthcare sector?
A lot! Access to fertility services in Europe is a postcode lottery created by restricted funding, cultural barriers, and limited information for customers. For example, if a couple in France have IVF, it is paid for by the state insurance (the French equivalent of the NHS). If you are a single woman in France, you are unable to have IVF, even if you pay privately, due to regulations prohibiting IVF for single women. The opposite is true in the UK where liberal regulation means that almost anyone can have IVF, but diminishing NHS funding means most people pay out of pocket for services.
Added to this complexity is the fact that there are many providers to choose from, and limited information to help women make that choice. Some providers choose to take advantage of that complexity, selling services and products that are unnecessary or clinically unproven. Others may not be up to quality standards, which can be hard to predict in advance… So far, so complicated.
Unfortunately, it will take political will and a very long time to address the problems of fertility funding and ingrained cultural norms. However, it is possible to address the issues created by limited information, and to support women in their decision making.
How will your business address the issues women face?
Fertility Mapper sets out to answer three simple questions: what fertility services can I legally access [in which countries], who provides those services, and are the providers any good. The platform will map clinics across Europe providing information on services provided and a space for women to comment on their experience of those services.
How can your fellow AllBright members assist with your mission?
Fertility Mapper is in its infancy and I would love to speak with anyone who has been through fertility treatment to understand their journey. For those who are interested in being involved further, I am looking to build an advisory group to ensure that we are providing the information that is most important to women starting their process.
Additionally, if any members have experience with B2C marketplaces and are interested in the project, I would really value your input.
And finally, if you could go back and give your younger self some advice, what would it be?
Act now, think later.
To contact Kayleigh, please email email@example.com