San Francisco and Zurich-based Ava, which makes a fertility-tracking wearable and companion app, has raised $9.7 million in Series A funding in a round led by VC Polytech Ventures. Additional funding came from new investors Blue Ocean Ventures and Global Sources as well as existing investors Swisscom and ZKB. This brings the company’s total funding to $12.3 million.
The company, which officially launched in July, will use the funding to further product development and ramp up its supply chain, as the Class One device the is currently on backorder.
“We’ve been pretty much sold out since we started launching, and now we’re at a point where we want to expand the collection, add new features and have more output to keep up so we can move into the European market,” Ava cofounder Lea von Bidder, who serves as president of science and vice president of marketing at the company, told MobiHealthNews.
The Ava bracelet is enabled by sensors to detect the fertile window in woman’s cycle in real time, recording nine physiological factors that correspond with the rise in hormones indicating the onset of ovulation. While the company didn’t share specific numbers with MobiHealthNews, von Bidder estimated total users – all in the United States –at a couple thousand.
“We’ve had very good response, and now we are starting to hear about the first pregnancies since using the tracker,” von Bidder said.
Shortly after the launch, Ava concluded a clinical study at the University Hospital of Zurich that showed the device accurately detected an averaged of 5.3 fertile days per cycle with 89 percent accuracy. Building on that, the company has begun a second study at the same hospital with a larger sample size (around 200), which will all go towards helping the company advance the capabilities of its device.
“When we set out to do this, we wanted to have a device for women to understand what is going on with their bodies at different stages of life – from wanting to avoid pregnancy, getting pregnant, spacing time between babies, maybe menopause,” von Bidder said. “Fertility made a lot of sense to start, but we were surprised that a lot of the feedback we got was from women trying not to get pregnant.”
While they are far away from the day where women could use the Ava tracker exclusively as a form of birth control, von Bidder said the company’s ultimate goal is to someday provide just that. The company is looking to hire more data scientists and also work with ob-gyns.
“It is my very strong personal mission to some day do this, this holy grail of making a device and app that can work as contraception,” said von Bidder. “That’s going to be a much bigger challenge that will require many more studies and specific targeting at a particular audience.”
For example, von Bidder said, she doesn’t see a day where Ava is marketed to college students with wildly fluctuating schedules or diets, but for women who are older and in committed relationships and willing to put in the study time it takes for the tracker to understand fully their cycle and fertility.
“We see a lot more understanding and conversation out there around women’s health and reproductive health choices, and on one hand, that’s really good,” von Bidder said. “On the other, you are still stuck with the options you have. We want to create a solution that we would all personally want to use.”