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Episode #338: Startup Series – Will Matthews, Fellow, “Semen Quality Is The Canary In The Coal Mine To Overall Health” | Meb Faber Research



Episode #338: Startup Sequence – Will Matthews, Fellow, “Semen High quality Is The Canary In The Coal Mine To Total Well being”

Visitor: William Matthews is the founder and CEO of Fellow, which presents the one lab-certified, mail-in semen evaluation that exceeds all requirements for FDA validated semen evaluation strategies.

Date Recorded: 7/15/2021     |     Run-Time: 49:21


Abstract: In at this time’s episode, we’re overlaying the subject that males prefer to draw back from – sperm well being! We begin by discussing the decline in fertility charges within the West and the potential the explanation why – stress, weight problems, and chemical publicity. Then Will shares what it was prefer to create the primary clinic grade direct-to-consumer semen evaluation package so you may keep away from that awkward physician’s go to.

As we wind down, Will shares his imaginative and prescient of making a flywheel impact, utilizing check knowledge to conduct analysis and in flip use that analysis to fine-tune their check kits.

As a particular supply for listeners of the present, go to www.meetfellow.com and use the code MEB to get $20 off your order.


Sponsor: AcreTrader – AcreTrader is an funding platform that makes it easy to personal shares of farmland and earn passive revenue, and you can begin investing in simply minutes on-line. AcreTrader gives entry, transparency, and liquidity to traders, whereas dealing with all facets of administration and property administration to be able to sit again and watch your funding develop.  In the event you’re excited about a deeper understanding, and for extra data on easy methods to change into a farmland investor by means of their platform, please go to acretrader.com/meb.


Feedback or solutions? Electronic mail us Feedback@TheMebFaberShow.com or name us to go away a voicemail at 323 834 9159

Enthusiastic about sponsoring an episode? Electronic mail Justin at jb@cambriainvestments.com

Hyperlinks from the Episode:

  • 0:39 – Sponsor – AcreTrader
  • 2:25 – Intro
  • 3:20 – Welcome to our visitor, Will Matthews
  • 4:47 – The present panorama of fertility proper now
  • 6:17 – Doable correlations between poor well being and weakening semen high quality
  • 8:04 – Episode #286: Jeremy Grantham, GMO
  • 9:09 – Combating the stigma round males’s fertility
  • 12:04 – The preliminary inspiration to discovered the corporate
  • 20:03 – Advertising and marketing the corporate and rising over the past yr
  • 24:06 – COVID’s affect on the corporate
  • 25:41 – Providing storage companies in addition to pattern testing
  • 29:09 – Episode 105: Olivia Judson, Author
  • 30:02 – Milestones for Fellow over the approaching years
  • 35:02 – Well being suggestions for guaranteeing optimum fertility
  • 38:13 – The fundraising course of
  • 39:59 – The largest problem of Fellow’s journey to date
  • 42:02 – Drawing inspiration from different DTC well being startups
  • 43:57 – The significance of ending the stigma round proactive testing
  • 45:26 – Be taught extra about Will; meetfellow.com (use code MEB for $20 off); LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter

Transcript of Episode 338:

Sponsor Message: In the present day’s episode is sponsored by AcreTrader. I’ve personally invested on AcreTrader and may say it’s a very straightforward technique to entry one in every of my favourite funding asset courses, farmland. AcreTrader is an funding platform that makes it easy to personal shares of farmland and earn passive revenue, and you can begin investing in simply minutes on-line. AcreTrader gives entry, transparency, and liquidity to traders whereas dealing with all facets of administration and property administration so you may sit again and watch your funding develop. We lately had the founding father of the corporate, Carter Malloy, again on the podcast for a second time in episode 312. Be sure to try that nice dialog. And should you’re excited about a deeper understanding and for extra data on easy methods to change into a farmland investor by means of their platform, please go to acretrader.com/meb. And now, again to our nice episode.

Welcome Message: Welcome to “The Meb Faber Present,” the place the main focus is on serving to you develop and protect your wealth. Be part of us as we focus on the craft of investing and uncover new and worthwhile concepts, all that can assist you develop wealthier and wiser. Higher investing begins right here.

Disclaimer: Meb Faber is the co-founder and chief funding officer at Cambria Funding Administration. Because of business laws, he won’t focus on any of Cambria’s funds on this podcast. All opinions expressed by podcast members are solely their very own opinions and don’t replicate the opinion of Cambria Funding Administration or its associates. For extra data, go to cambriainvestments.com.

Meb: Welcome, podcast listeners. In the present day, we have now one other episode on our podcast Founder Sequence the place we invite kickass entrepreneurs to talk about their experiences from the entrance traces of beginning an organization. We cowl every part from newly minted startups nonetheless struggling to make it out of their storage all the way in which to the elusive unicorns which can be both reworking conventional enterprise sectors with revolutionary concepts or creating totally new ones by means of leading edge applied sciences. Both means, the outcome will probably be whole catastrophic failure and chapter or lots of of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} of income and a valuation value north of a billion {dollars}. Hear in to listen to the tales of blood, sweat, and tears as these founders attempt to change the world. As a disclosure reminder, I’ve invested in most, if not all, of those startups, and can look to speculate extra as they proceed their startup journey. Please benefit from the subsequent episode on our Founder Sequence.

Meb: What’s up, mates? We received a mannequin present for you at this time. Our visitor is the founding father of Fellow, an organization that’s rethinking the way forward for males’s fertility and runs the most important semen evaluation lab within the U.S. In at this time’s present, we’re overlaying the subject that males prefer to draw back from, reproductive well being. We begin by discussing the decline in fertility charges within the West, potential the explanation why, stress, weight problems, chemical publicity. Then our visitor shares what it was prefer to create the primary clinic grade direct-to-consumer semen evaluation package so you may keep away from that awkward physician’s go to. As we wind down, our visitor shares his imaginative and prescient of making a flywheel impact utilizing check knowledge to conduct pharmaceutical analysis and, in flip, use that knowledge to enhance the well being and lives of males all over the place. As a particular supply to listeners of the present, go to meetfellow.com and use the code MEB to get $20 off your order. Once more, meetfellow.com and use the code MEB for $20 off your order. Please get pleasure from this episode with Fellow’s Will Matthews.

Meb: Will, welcome to the present.

Will: Thanks for having me. Actually, actually, recognize it. Glad to be right here.

Meb: The place do we discover you at this time?

Will: I’m within the Mission District of San Francisco.

Meb: I miss San Francisco. I must get again up there. I used to stay above the Broadway Tunnel in Chinatown, a bit bit in North Seashore subsequent to the previous Tower Data. I used to rise up there about as soon as 1 / 4. I’m due for a visit, so that you’ll need to take me to your favourite burrito place. What’s it? What’s your favourite burrito place within the Mission?

Will: Oh, it’s known as Taqueria El Buen Sabor. I don’t know the way I take into consideration how that rolls up my tongue so properly, however that has the very best vegetarian burrito. Not that I’m vegetarian, however I simply love their veggie burrito.

Meb: You don’t sound such as you’re from the Mission. The place are you from initially?

Will: I’m from the UK, born and raised on this little village exterior of London, about 40 minutes northwest, in between Oxford and London.

Meb: Are you guys allowed to get again there but? When’s the final time you’ve been throughout the pond?

Will: March final yr, I used to be there. TBD on once I could make it again. There’s this complete two-week quarantine interval that I would wish to do if I’m coming again, so I’m attempting to attend till that’s launched.

Meb: I miss it. We had some journeys over there. Hopefully, fingers crossed, at some point. We’re large traders within the UK now. Their inventory market is de facto low-cost in comparison with over right here. So we’re cheering for them to determine Brexit and every part else, the virus. All proper, let’s discuss one thing completely completely different, sperm and every part surrounded by it. You guys, if you got here throughout my plate, could have been one of the apparent and fascinating startups I’ve seen in seven years. So disclosure, listeners, we’re an investor. However let’s begin, take a step again earlier than we get into what you guys do, let’s discuss what’s the scenario with fertility basically. Is that this like a prequel to “Youngsters of Males,” that film with, who was it, Clive Owen?

Will: Yeah, yeah.

Meb: Are we coming into a dystopia? Give us the background.

Will: I imply, I believe there’s a variety of press on the market proper now about how males are doomed, fertility is reducing, we don’t know why, and so on., and so on. There was a really massive examine revealed a few years in the past that launched the truth that fertility charges amongst males in Western international locations, particularly, have declined about 40% over the past 40 years. And to the way in which wherein I phrase that is that younger males at this time have 40% decrease sperm rely than their fathers did on the similar age. Particularly across the science behind it and what’s inflicting it, there’s a variety of dialogue about what may very well be factoring in. I imply, plastics, BPA, phthalates, pesticides, like, endocrine disruptors. I imply, they’re not good. The jury is de facto out as to why that is the case, and that’s actually one thing that we hope to resolve and glean perception into as we progress with the enterprise.

Meb: I’ve heard you guys discuss this basically. Is that this a coincident indicator? Is it one thing that, look, we have now, clearly, in America, however in a variety of different international locations as properly? There’s epidemic of weight problems, and obese, and all kinds of comparable issues like diabetes. Is that one thing that’s coincident? It’s completely separate? How does it think about?

Will: I imply, I imagine that, and there’s a variety of analysis that goes into this, that semen high quality is the canary within the coal mine to total well being. And so in diabetes, in most cancers danger, in coronary heart illness danger, and issues like that, there have been some research which have demonstrated that, like, a subfertile semen high quality is an indicator of heightened danger of diabetes, of coronary heart illness, of most cancers, sadly. And so they’re associated. I imply, I went to…within the very earliest days of this enterprise, I used to be speaking to many, many docs about what we had been attempting to do and the way we had been attempting to do it. And one physician, particularly, primarily based in San Francisco and L.A., he mentioned, “Will, there’s one metric that I take a look at when attempting to find out what may very well be inflicting a pattern to be subfertile,” and he mentioned, “And that’s waist measurement.” And I imply, that appeared fairly fascinating and has caught with me since. And so, actually, if males are consuming poorly, if they’re overweight, if they’re very careworn, in the event that they’re not getting a lot sleep, that’s not going to do a person’s fertility any favors.

Meb: How a lot of it is a Western phenomenon? Is that this occurring elsewhere on the planet? Is that this taking place in Asia, in Africa, in South America? It’s, like, a really horrifying matter. We talked a bit bit about this with the episode with Jeremy Grantham. Our listeners, should you didn’t hear that episode, it’s a very good one. Is it distinctive to the Western world, or is that this taking place all over the place?

Will: I imply, this examine, particularly, surfaces this as one thing taking place within the Western world. I’ve dived into the analysis, dived into a few of the numbers, and it doesn’t appear to carry in Africa, in Asia, and non-Western areas. And so Europe, Australia, North America is the place these traits have been seen. However, like, there may very well be loads that’s factoring into why that is the case, together with the truth that there might have been extra analysis performed within the Western world than there was within the non-Western world. And so I’d take it with a grain of salt, however the examine itself launched this as one thing that’s taking place within the Western world.

Meb: Yeah. And the bizarre half is it’s like a continuing decline. It’s not, like, per decade it, like, went down after which flat lined, or…it’s simply, like, a gradual sort of horrifying linear exponential form of decline. My first thought once I noticed it was that I questioned if it’s simply, like, unhealthy knowledge, however then you have got yearly, over the previous 40 years, makes it a bit extra cheap that it’s not an artifact. All proper. So, you realize, sexual well being after which that matter, basically, my guardian’s technology was most likely one which was a bit extra taboo perhaps, you realize. What’s the form of state of individuals speaking about it? Is it turning into extra mainstream? What’s your basic ideas there?

Will: Effectively, I believe it’s turning into extra mainstream they actually discuss. However there’s nonetheless a protracted technique to go. After I was first trying to construct this enterprise, I mentioned that there are two the explanation why that is so troubling at this time, and that’s that, one, the comfort of males getting a fertility analysis may be very troublesome. They received to enter a clinic, and everyone knows these stereotypes of going into these rooms, getting the magazines, offering a pattern. In order that comfort is de facto horrible. After which there’s additionally a stigma related to it. And I imagine that we’re progressing very properly in introducing this as a subject that may be very related. Information is starting to indicate that when {couples} are having a tough time conceiving, in equal proportion, males are at fault as ladies are. So it’s an issue that’s equally shared, and we simply want tradition to catch up. And I imagine that that’s taking place, and I imagine that the media is actually encouraging that in mild of the tales that they’re portray about this earlier article, particularly.

Meb: Let’s rewind. I wish to hear the origin story of Fellow. As a glide path attending to that, let’s hear a bit bit about your background. What had been you doing earlier than founding this firm?

Will: So earlier than founding Fellow, I joined a good friend of mine to construct a house enchancment financing firm. And really, very completely different area. We took that from his kitchen desk to a 100-person firm at this time, and the premise was to create the Expedia for owners to get financing for non-discretionary remodels, let’s say. When somebody wants to repair a roof, they actually need to repair their roof. And we needed to assist them get the financing they wanted with a view to do this. That’s what I used to be doing instantly earlier than. I used to be chopping my tooth, so to talk, occurring easy methods to construct a enterprise, easy methods to get licenses, easy methods to work with, like, federal businesses and state businesses to grasp whether or not you want completely different…what licenses you want, which has actually helped for Fellow, for certain. After which earlier than that, I used to be working at Playboy Enterprises down in L.A. I used to be there for just below two years, serving to with their positioning, how they had been attempting to orient themselves on this, like, digital media period, and the place the enterprise stood the strongest.

Meb: You ever make it within the Grotto?

Will: I did. I did.

Meb: What was the inspiration thought? I imply, Playboy, that’s a bit near house on this matter. What was the preliminary inspiration? Was there a private expertise? Was it one thing that you simply had some mates within the business? How did you get this half?

Will: Yeah, that’s a terrific query, Meb. It’s humorous, when folks hear Playboy, like, “Wait a second, Playboy, male fertility firm. What’s the origination there?” So when…I imply, born and raised within the UK, I used to be conversant in the NHS and the well being care system out right here. After I got here out right here, I needed to see a urologist, and I knew that I needed to undergo the method of major care doctor referral to a urologist and the place I might get the data that I wanted, and I actually needed to higher perceive my well being. I went to the first care doctor on the third ground of this constructing, and she or he mentioned, “Okay, Will, go to the fifth ground and schedule an appointment with a urologist, and also you’ll have the ability to get the solutions that you simply’re searching for.” I went to the fifth ground, I scheduled the appointment, and the lady on the desk mentioned, “Okay, so the subsequent out there appointment is in three months.” That was debilitating as a result of I actually needed to know what was occurring. And I mentioned, “Is there any…has there been any cancellations? Is there any means that I can come earlier?” She mentioned, “No, wait three months.”

So I waited patiently for 3 months, and this, like, then the questions that I used to be attempting to study extra about had been fairly consuming. And I get to the appointment with the physician, and the physician says, “Okay, Will, as a subsequent step, we have to do a urine evaluation,” which appears very, very routine when seeing urologists. And I mentioned okay, and they also gave me a cup. And I went to this horrible toilet stall and simply offered a urine pattern, took it again to the physician’s workplace, and I used to be like, “So, what are the subsequent steps right here?” anticipating them to say, “Okay, are available subsequent week, and we’ll provide the reply that you simply want.” And like, rinse and repeat, they mentioned, “We have to are available and we received one other appointment out there in three months, and also you’ll have the ability to get the solutions that you simply want.” And that felt actually, actually debilitating.

And coming away from that have, I used to be like, “Wait a second, like, let’s look into my, like, male reproductive well being at this time, tomorrow, what that’s going to seem like.” I used to be like, “We’ve received my, like, sexual well being and attempting to grasp that.” That’s been a horrible expertise to date. We’ve received fertility, and like, if I’m having fertility bother, I’m in for a reasonably, fairly horrible expertise, and that’s not that nice. Getting older, when eager about my hormone ranges, like, how does…there are these clinics that one can go to to grasp that, however it’s not too properly understood. After which going all the way in which into my 60, 70s, eager about my prostate, for instance, like, prostate, like, PSA testing at this time has a 75% false-positive price. And simply rewinding a bit bit, I noticed in entrance of me a horrible set of experiences for me to grasp my male reproductive well being, and that impressed me to exit and begin with this subsequent journey that I’d need to undergo, fertility. And I used to be like, “Why is there no at-home male fertility analysis? Let’s see what I can do to try to set one thing up in that area.”

Meb: Give us the timeline origin. What yr are we at now at this level? And when did you are taking the leap and say, “Let’s attempt to make this an organization?”

Will: We’re in 2017. 2018, I arrange an organization, turned full time in September 2018. We launched our check in April 2020. We’ve been stay for simply over a yr now. And from 2018 to 2020, we received our personal scientific lab. We received our personal CLIA approval, which is the licensing it is advisable run a scientific diagnostics lab to supply perception to docs. We developed our personal analysis, had it revealed within the journal, “Fertility and Sterility.” And as soon as we knew that we might precisely carry out a semen evaluation with a pattern obtained by means of the mail the place, as much as at the present time, a pattern has been required to be examined inside one hour of technology, as quickly as we validated the mail-in element, we launched, and that was April 2020.

Meb: Was that simply an assumption on the time that it was unattainable to do the evaluation with that a lot form of a niche between manufacturing and evaluation, or was that only a guess, or you realize, was there any proof, otherwise you guys simply mentioned, “Hmm, perhaps we’ll check this?”

Will: So there may be, like, a 500-page doc by the World Well being Group that’s at the moment in its fifth version, about to be in its sixth, that’s known as the lab guide for the processing and dealing with of human semen. Inside that guide, it says that, and it’s used worldwide in any respect andrology labs, like, it’s the reference information. It says that samples should be examined inside one hour to be clinically related, and that’s as a result of the motility of the pattern, so the motion of the cells, naturally, decreases over time. And so we set about with the thought that, “Wait a second, there are lots of of 1000’s of cells right here, if not, typically lots of of hundreds of thousands of cells. Sure, they’ll lower, but when we stabilize them by means of our preservation answer, and we management the temperature, can we precisely observe the degeneration of the pattern over time in order that once we obtain it in our lab, we will backtrack and be like, ‘That is what it was like once we obtained it?’ We all know that samples lower at this price. That is what we imagine the pattern was like inside one hour.” And so it hadn’t been performed earlier than, and we set about to try to show that it was the case. And we’ve since change into the primary peer-reviewed journal article to show that it’s potential.

Meb: You guys have one of many all-time, like, we name this frustration hour, however it takes on a completely new which means along with your class, however like, it’s such any startup the place there’s simply one thing that simply sucks, like the entire course of, such as you talked about, to not point out the time the place, you realize, I needed to undergo this, I’d been doing a few of the IVF stuff and went to a clinic in L.A. And that is most likely TMI for the listeners, however those that have been by means of it’s going to most likely like to listen to it as a result of there’s most likely related tales all over the place the place, you realize, they usher you into this tiny room, and my favourite half was they’d these previous CD instances. And by the way in which, anybody underneath 30 might be, like, “What on the planet is a CD?” There’s a tiny laptop, and that is no journal, that is the fabric that males are supposed to look at, okay? Already, we’re TMI territory.

And my favourite half about it was it was, like, none of this was, like, PG-13, RX, or triple X rated. It was, like, the quadruple X stuff that, like, should you get to the furthest reaches within the web. However then, additionally, I used to be, like, “I don’t wish to contact something in right here. There’s been 50 folks in right here earlier than me, and that is the grossest potential environment to ever be part of this reproductive journey about creating a toddler,” which is meant to be, in my thoughts, you realize, a really optimistic expertise. And so, anyway, lengthy story brief, it appears so apparent. I really feel like that is such a startup story the place folks simply assume you may’t do it every other means. They’re like, “Effectively, you may by no means do it at house,” due to the explanations you talked about. And you then guys had this vital perception the place you’re like, “Effectively, it seems you may.” All proper. So that you guys begin launching, begin gathering. How do you let folks know? What’s been the method over the past yr?

Will: That’s a terrific query. So we launched in April 2020. Now we have since discovered three channels that we use to work with prospects and discover prospects. I imply, we have now the primary direct-to-consumer. Now we have folks seek for male search analysis on-line. In the event that they seek for semen evaluation close to me, issues like that, they sometimes come throughout us, they usually’d purchase a package, the place we offer a doctor of report to order the package, we ship it out to them, they get it inside a few days, they supply a pattern, we give them outcomes inside someday. That’s one channel. Now we have additionally discovered clinics which have began utilizing us for his or her sufferers, particularly, OB-GYNs and urologists. And we have now additionally discovered biotech and analysis as a channel for us. And what I imply by that’s that every one with the ability to open up the catchment space for our lab to nationwide by receiving samples from wherever, from Florida to Washington, we have now enabled an ordinary in analysis that has universities and personal biotech corporations excited about utilizing us. And so, proper now, for instance, we’re powering a part two scientific trial for a hypertension drug that’s wanting into whether or not it adversely impacts fertility. We’re additionally powering a examine with the U.S. Navy who need to perceive environmental exposures for sailors of their day-to-day operation. These are our three channels that we at the moment work with.

Meb: You realize, it form of jogs my memory of the origin story, like 23andMe again within the day sort of had this entry level of being like an ancestry or like, “Hey, right here’s some cool details about your genetics.” However then, I believe…are they public now? I believe, as they’ve grown and change into a multibillion-dollar firm, they mentioned, “Hey, look, we even have this huge useful resource. Let’s begin partnering with pharmaceutical corporations. Let’s begin eager about different methods to utilise our data.” Is that correct to say that’s form of an identical pathway for you guys?

Will: That’s actually been an inspiration for us. I believe 23andMe have actually paved the way in which and launched customers to the perception that may be generated from at-home mail-in checks of bodily fluids. They usually have impressed us a lot. I imply, we’ve introduced on…we have now a very unbelievable crew that has are available and joined us on this mission. And two of our members, actually, have come from 23andMe. So our engineering chief and our product chief each spent 4 or 5 years plus at 23andMe.

Meb: And so, what’s the form of wedge within the door as reproductive data diagnostic of direct-to-consumer, I assume? Is that almost all at the moment as the way in which the enterprise is constructed?

Will: Really, our quickest rising channel is direct-to-physician. And so we have now physicians which can be referring Fellow to their sufferers, as a result of in any other case, it’s very troublesome for them to go and supply a pattern in these rooms. They don’t love to do it, they don’t do it. And in reality, we have now, I imply, as I discussed, we have now OB-GYNs who sometimes see ladies as step one within the fertility journey. And naturally, with a view to perceive what’s taking place with the couple, one wants to grasp what’s taking place with the male in a heterosexual couple. And so the OB-GYN gives a Fellow package to the lady who takes it house to her associate, and he generates a pattern, mails it in, after which the OB-GYN will get the outcome to have the ability to perceive, is that this a male factor? Is it a feminine factor?

Meb: You realize, I imply, if you consider you all’s timing on launching the corporate, I imply, there’s clearly the unlucky timing of attempting to get began throughout a pandemic but in addition the auspicious advantages of claiming, “Effectively, that is now direct-to-consumer at house.” How did these form of two forces play out as a headwind or tailwind of every part occurring of getting this factor up and operating?

Will: So we don’t have any prior knowledge, so, from, like, pre-pandemic, and so I can’t let you know what it could have been like. However one factor we did see in the course of the pandemic was that a variety of semen evaluation labs simply closed their doorways, they usually mentioned, “You realize what, we will’t do that anymore.” And that made it very troublesome for…I imply, much like my expertise with that urologist some time in the past, it made it very troublesome for males and {couples} to get the solutions they want when attempting to conceive.

Meb: I noticed a stat. Is that this nonetheless the case about being the most important, basically, semen evaluation lab within the U.S.? Is {that a} actuality for you guys?

Will: Sure, we’ve been actually humbled by the variety of folks which were buying kits, which were attempting to study extra about their well being. And we now course of a number of lots of of samples per week. And I imply, as I’m certain you may think about, like, a lab that has to do that in-person simply doesn’t have the capability to be receiving males for nonetheless lengthy it takes them to generate a pattern, they usually simply don’t have the power to scale like we do from a lab that simply will get an enormous cargo of orders on daily basis.

Meb: As you sort of take a look at the method, how a lot of that is very apparent extension, nearly like a SaaS kind of enterprise too for the direct-to-consumer, and that’s storage, preservation? Is that one thing you guys do at the moment or wanting into?

Will: Completely. So we’ve taken the method that we’re going to be a full-stack lab that owns its full operation. And so we obtained our federal tissue banking license in January, February of this yr, and we have now since launched cryopreservation. And we allow males to cryopreserve, and the kinds of folks which were storing are these which can be excited about guaranteeing their fertility, particularly in mild of the statistic of fertility reducing over time. We even have been supporting most cancers sufferers. If males are recognized with some type of most cancers they usually’re about to endure chemotherapy or radiation remedy, earlier than they start that, they’ve been cryopreserving with us. And we’ve additionally discovered ourselves supporting the transgender group, which have been actually unbelievable. As folks transition, they retailer their fertility for future, as a result of, who is aware of, perhaps they might use it.

Meb: What’s the ballpark price to you guys to the extent you may inform us for the preservation?

Will: We cost customers $140 per yr for cryopreservation.

Meb: You realize the, like, going price that labs cost is, like, 500 bucks. I keep in mind wanting into it, and it’s so costly. So proper there, I imply, simply the power to chop a few of the price on this, I imply, look, should be a terrific enterprise for these labs as a result of that doesn’t most likely take up an excessive amount of area within the freezer. However does that sound, like, about proper for the sort of the opponents so far as price?

Will: What we do is we have now the entire semen evaluation, which is $189, after which they will bolt on cryopreservation on high of that for $140 per yr. And so from a value perspective, I imply, we’ve seen as a lot as a number of thousand {dollars}, and we’re actually excited to extend entry to males to have the ability to do that in a cheap means.

Meb: I’m certain the entire listeners can be very proud to know that my outcomes had been high of the category once I received mine examined. I used to be laughing as I used to be wanting by means of it with a complete motile rely of what number of hundreds of thousands it was. I imply, the query I all the time had was, although, and I was a biology engineer man million years in the past as an undergrad and keep in mind studying a variety of evolutionary biology, and if you consider, you realize, why do people want this many sperm within the first place, and the one actual cause that I might ever see within the literature was that the competitors between a number of companions about you need extra pictures on purpose. You realize, you solely want one, after all, but when there’s going to be a number of opponents, perhaps that’s why you want lots of of hundreds of thousands as a substitute of simply 5.

Will: Yeah, yeah, precisely. I imply, and likewise, the feminine reproductive tract can be a reasonably harsh surroundings, and so there must be many sperm to have the ability to make it in mild of the feminine reproductive tract seeing this as a overseas substance. It’s, like, “What is that this? Like, how will we…like that is…let’s shield ourselves,” and so the sperm must be working in numbers simply to extend the possibility of conception.

Meb: Yeah. I imply, there’s an interesting evolutionary sort of competitors not simply between males of the identical species however women and men of the identical species. And we had an evolutionary biologist on the podcast some time again, Olivia Judson, and the e book “Dr. Tatiana’s Intercourse Recommendation to All Creation,” fascinating e book, however it could discuss how women and men developed completely different traits to basically see who might get the leg up within the evolutionary footrace. And I imply, I keep in mind there being tales of, I don’t know if it was bees or what, however the male would…they might have intercourse, the male would ejaculate, the penis would break off and, like, block to stop different companions, yadda yadda. Anyway, you bought to be a science nerd to like this, however that e book, go test it out. It’s one in every of my all-time favorites.

Wow, we simply went off on a bizarre tangent. Okay. So, all proper. So you have got evaluation, you have got cryopreservation, you have got partnering with pharma corporations. As you look to the horizon, you guys are fairly, fairly new to this enterprise, what are form of the pathways of the longer term, whether or not it’s one yr, three years, 5 years? How do you see this evolving? And you realize, what do you see is the foremost sources of what you guys will probably be doing in a number of years versus now?

Will: That’s a terrific query. I imply, we even have a vasectomy check, simply including that within the listing, male fertility analysis, cryopreservation, and the vasectomy check for males to verify the success of a vasectomy.

Meb: Oh, to see if the snip held, or the knot held, or no matter it’s, the plug held.

Will: To see if the tubes had been successfully minimize.

Meb: See if the pipes are totally blocked. Okay, received it.

Will: Precisely. Precisely. I imply, typically the identical pipe might be minimize twice, for instance, and that results in unsuccessful vasectomy. Round the way forward for the enterprise, like, I imagine that the semen is a pattern with unbelievable knowledge potential. And so over the past a number of months, we have now sought to work with some unbelievable specialists and herald some unbelievable crew members to set us as much as additional uncover what is feasible inside semen. And what I imply by that’s that, throughout the male reproductive system, you’ve received testicles, you’ve received prostate, you’ve received the bulbourethral glands. There’s loads occurring. And inside a male reproductive system, for instance, take testicular most cancers. Testicular most cancers is probably the most prevalent most cancers for males between the ages of 20 and 39. Prostate most cancers is the second most deadly most cancers for males. It’s, I believe, probably the most recognized.

These are areas that don’t have the very best diagnostics at this time. But, you have got this semen pattern that comes…a few of it comes from the testicles, a few of it comes from the prostate, a few of it comes from the bulbourethral glands. I imply, a semen pattern is a illustration of a number of completely different organs inside a male reproductive system.

And so the place we need to go is in additional supporting patient-clinician experiences to reply questions in male reproductive well being and science, going a lot deeper throughout the pattern. And there are some actually fascinating analysis on the market that has proven that it’s potential to detect loads, lot, lot greater than fertility inside a semen pattern. And in order that’s what we’re at the moment engaged on.

Meb: Yeah. I imply, it looks like you have got such an fascinating useful resource of a database that, you realize, most likely nobody else on the planet has. Is there something you guys can share, any perception from the primary yr of gathering all these 1000’s of samples to the place you had been shocked or the place you’re like, “Hey, we really are shocked about X, Y, Z,” or the rest, or perhaps it’s proprietary however something basically that you’re about the entire course of that was fascinating perception?

Will: We’ve had loads over the past yr and a bit. However I imply, 40% of the individuals who purchase our package are ladies, and I might not have anticipated that such a excessive quantity, as has been the case. Now we have seen a…I imply, we’ve learnt an entire host of issues over the previous few years. I imply, pattern high quality has been fairly fascinating to study extra about. However I’d think about that most likely the best perception has been, like, we have now the pattern, there’s a lot in there that we will study extra about. Let’s look to construct extra perception right here, and that has been an fascinating perception when wanting extra into analysis and speaking to some unbelievable individuals who have chosen to assist, advise, seek the advice of, be part of our enterprise.

Meb: I used to be laughing as you had been speaking about, like, as a result of I’m like, I’m wondering what number of of those ladies, it’s like, folks not married, they’re relationship, and she or he’s like, you realize, “I must know if this man’s boys swim, as a result of in any other case, I’m losing my time, my reproductive health years. I’m 34. I can’t be messing round. I’m not going to even inform him.” That’s wonderful perception. I had no…I might have guessed it was, you realize, a tiny minority of total. You guys simply within the U.S. or what?

Will: We’re simply within the U.S., yeah.

Meb: What’s the present state of world evaluation? Is anybody else doing this overseas? Are you guys going to broaden at any level within the U.Ok., in Europe, in Canada, in Mexico, and wherever else?

Will: I imply, there are a number of corporations overseas, that’s for certain. However I imply, our primary purpose is, “Let’s get proper the place we’re centered, and let’s create probably the most worth we will for our customers, for our prospects, for sufferers, for clinicians, and let’s take that perception into new markets. However till we do this, let’s concentrate on the U.S. market.”

Meb: Do you have got any guesses on what, you realize…I used to be my Fellow web page once I had my outcomes, and as you consider the issues you are able to do, all the time, these are all, like, frequent sense life solutions, however it’s, like, don’t smoke, have a wholesome weight, drink much less, eat higher, get your cardio in, get your sleep. Right here’s one in every of my favorites, two favorites, boxers are higher than briefs. So I think about, by an extension, no underwear is even higher than boxers.

Will: I’ll give it to you.

Meb: Right here’s the one I hate probably the most, keep out of the new tub. Oh, you’re killing me, man. I’m a skier, in order that’s, like, I’m simply going to need to sacrifice for that one. And don’t stress. That’s a troublesome one for everyone.

Will: Yeah. I imply, the new tub, like, routine scorching tub use, sadly, is de facto not good for fertility, however I imply, it’s actually recoverable. However you may see a measurable lower from routine scorching tub use.

Meb: Effectively, it is sensible. I imply, you may think about that, at the least on the evolutionary scale, that a variety of our ancestors had been chilling out within the scorching springs on daily basis. That’s most likely the place a lot of the predators would come discover you anyway, close to the watering gap. So most likely for a reasonably fashionable phenomenon, I think about. Is there every other form of periphery form of concepts round this that will be a pure extension for what you guys are doing? You realize, should you change into often called the sperm firm, is there any form of concepts that you simply guys kick round about the rest in your model?

Will: Deeper diagnostics for males, for his or her male reproductive well being, is what we’re centered on, first, second, and third. That proper now’s fertility, however that extends into understanding hormone ranges, understanding testicular well being, understanding prostate well being, understanding sexual well being. And so, inside a person’s lifecycle, we wish to assist clinicians and sufferers with the data they should totally perceive the standing of their reproductive system. That’s our focus.

Meb: Yeah. I imply, I think about it’s form of a blue ocean alternative the place there hasn’t been the dimensions and magnitude of database entry and samples that you simply’re going to have over the subsequent couple of years. I imply, simply the quantity of individuals which can be going to decide in. After which, when you join the whole doctor community, I imply, how a lot happier are you to talk along with your physician and he’s like, “Yeah, simply order this,” or “Do that package at house,” as a substitute of creeping round this workplace with everybody is aware of what you’re as much as in there, within the room? Let’s discuss in regards to the enterprise a bit bit. How do you begin a D2C fertility clinic enterprise? Is it self-funded? Did you hit up a few of the playmates for startup capital? How does all of it work?

Will: We fundraised an preliminary seed spherical that we introduced in on the premise of what we had been going to construct from a, like, lab, and check, and analysis perspective. We took that preliminary funding, and we constructed out the lab capabilities to construct round these checks. We then validated our analysis that we might do that check by means of in a single day delivery. After which we launched direct-to-consumer by means of Google, by means of Fb, by means of the consumer channels, at first, to check the market, check the messaging. That’s how we received up and operating.

Meb: And what’s the plan with the biz? Are you guys going to attempt to self-fund it? Are you going to go the VC route? What’s the runway seem like?

Will: So at the moment, we’re happening the enterprise capital route, persevering with to spend money on our analysis and our buyer acquisition to, like, additional improve this flywheel, which is, like, extra samples equals extra knowledge, which equals a greater high quality check, which equals extra samples. And we wish to take that flywheel and apply that to each our clinician channels and our direct-to-consumer channels.

Meb: All proper. All you wealthy VCs, take heed to this. Hit Will up. You’ll undoubtedly get some inquiries doubtlessly on the doctor or partnership aspect. What’s the web site or what’s the way in which that folks get in contact with you?

Will: The web site is meetfellow.com, so M-E-E-T-F-E-L-L-O-W.

Meb: You realize, an fascinating half about your story, and that is like so many founder tales, to me is that even the prospect of the concept appears so daunting, mentioned, “Look, right here’s the established order. Clearly, one thing like this might by no means work,” and that will have been my estimate earlier than I heard about it, and heard that it was working, and went by means of it. What’s been, like, the most important problem of this journey to date? Was it getting the science and packaging proper of the storage? Was it partnering with clinics or regulatory? What have been a few of the large challenges?

Will: I believe the most important problem has been decoding sign over noise because it pertains to who is sensible as our Most worthy buyer base. And what I imply by that’s that we work instantly with customers. Customers are available, they usually purchase our check, and it’s a really fulfilling expertise for them. We additionally work with docs. And inside docs, we work with OB-GYNs and urologists. We additionally work with analysis, each federal and publicly traded corporations. Figuring out the place to allocate our assets into which initiative might be the toughest factor for us to do each day, provided that we’re a small crew and it’s important that we’re working underneath the belief of true positives, not that we have now a false optimistic, that we’re pursuing and investing a variety of effort into, that truly we misread it. And in order that has been most likely the most important problem for us as we glance to additional scale the enterprise.

Meb: What number of of us you all received now?

Will: At present, about 14.

Meb: Superior. All Mission-based, or are you guys throughout?

Will: We’re throughout. Now we have a number of folks in Minneapolis. Now we have a number of folks within the Bay Space. Now we have a number of those that’s in COVID pickup and mentioned, “You realize what, we’re going to change into fairly nomadic over the subsequent a number of months,” and that’s been tremendous enjoyable dwelling vicariously by means of them. Now we have a few folks on the East Coast. After which we have now discipline gross sales reps which can be distributed throughout a number of states and throughout the U.S.

Meb: How a lot of an inspiration or concepts have you ever taken away from the success of a few of these different corporations in form of the direct-to-consumer well being class? I’m pondering of, like, HIMSS, basically, however a variety of these have been absolute rocket ship form of unicorns that are actually valued properly into the billions for issues like erectile dysfunction, all that different stuff. Do you sort of crib a few of the concepts from a few of these, or are they even potential companions in some unspecified time in the future?

Will: Sure. So that they’ve actually constructed inspirational manufacturers, and it’s outstanding seeing what they’ve achieved over the previous few years. I imply, when eager about the worth that they’re offering to prospects, it’s unbelievable seeing them begin with their, what I might say is like extra of a prescription-based method, at first, leveraging telehealth. And I imagine that, as a pure extension, as these companies progress, they’ll wish to have extra perception about their customers in order that they will additional present higher companies. And so, inside our…precisely as I discussed earlier about our flywheel, extra prospects, extra data, for us to construct a greater check. For the businesses like HIMSS and Roman and some of these others, I see us doubtlessly supporting them with additional perception into what may very well be taking place inside a male’s reproductive system to warrant additional care and additional assist on the telehealth entrance, on the deeper diagnostics entrance, and issues like that.

Meb: All optimistic traits, that’s for certain. What are we lacking? We talked about loads at this time. Something that I’ve omitted you assume is especially vital and insightful about y’all’s mission and journey that you simply’ve been on?

Will: That’s largely us. I imply, one factor I’ll say is that, particularly for all of the listeners on the market, there’s actually a stigma round this that has males placing this out of sight, out of thoughts. And what I’ve present in our customers and the docs that we work with is that, like, proactive testing, whether or not it’s simply curiosity, whether or not there’s one thing that might have occurred a few years in the past, proactive testing is de facto, actually, actually useful for a person to grasp the place he’s now at this time, as a result of greatest case situation, every part is ok. The whole lot goes tremendous properly. Like, however on the opposite aspect of that, like, he’s working early, and he’s in a position to perceive what’s occurring, and he’s in a position to take proactive steps to handle this. And so that is, I suppose, largely PSA, if nothing else, however not the prostate-specific antigen however the public service announcement. I imply, that’s most likely simply my final takeaway.

Meb: PSA on the PSA. All proper, we’ll take it. Will, this has been, I believe, actually insightful. Hopefully for the listeners as each potential sufferers, or customers, traders, companions, docs, all that good things, burrito aficionados in San Francisco. We talked about already as soon as, however place for folks to go, they wish to try what you guys are doing, observe alongside, what’s the very best spot?

Will: Our LinkedIn web page is fairly energetic. Now we have @fellow on Instagram, @fellow on TikTok, @fellow on Twitter. After which our web site is meetfellow.com. And you’ll attain us on there by means of our chat nearly immediately. We’ve received a very nice crew that takes care of our prospects and sufferers, and we’re actually, actually attentive to anybody’s wants.

Meb: Superior. Will, it’s been tremendous insightful. I’m an enormous supporter of what you guys are doing. Good luck in your journey, and thanks a lot for becoming a member of us at this time.

Will: Meb, thanks very a lot on your time, and have a terrific remainder of your day. I’ve actually appreciated being right here, and thanks once more.

Meb: Podcast listeners, we’ll publish present notes to at this time’s dialog at mebfaber.com/podcast. In the event you love the present, should you hate it, shoot us suggestions@themebfabershow.com. We like to learn the critiques. Please overview us on iTunes and subscribe to the present wherever good podcasts are discovered. Thanks for listening, mates, and good investing.





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