Thanks to him, at least 40,000 children were born
Entrepreneur Lee von Bieder invented the fertility tracker Ava and is one of the most successful start-up founders. She does a lot in the field of medicine when it comes to women’s health.
Innovative, visionary and successful – Lee von Bieder is a light on the tech start-up scene. At just 32 years old, the co-founder of Ava is one of Switzerland’s most important young entrepreneurs. Ava rocked the femtech scene with its so-called wearables, a digital fertility bracelet. Using sensors, it measures temperature, respiratory rate and pulse during sleep and uses this data to calculate a woman’s fertile days.
The Zurich-based start-up is now in US hands. Based in Houston, Texas, Femtech Health is acquiring a Swiss innovation company. The Zurich office will remain as the Swiss headquarters after the deal closes. Further locations are to be maintained in London, Barcelona and Athens. It is not known how much of the acquisition of the bidder and its three co-founders came to the treasury.
At least 40,000 Ava babies have been born since its founding in 2014. The idea for the fertility tracker came when the wife of one of the company’s co-founders wanted to get pregnant. Von Bieder noted at the time that not all of the fertility gadgets and trackers on the market were any different from the previous generation—and to some extent, the generations before them—used.
Visionaries of the Women’s Health Industry
There was no better place for disruptive ideas than in the innovation hub of San Francisco, where she moved in 2015 and was responsible for marketing Ava before becoming CEO. Thinking big and thinking big in the beginning is the most important thing she learned during her time in San Francisco. And that she was able to see other successful women in the start-up scene there, while not many female company founders in Switzerland at the time were making a name for themselves.
At TED Talk-style events, the then 27-year-old appeared confident, confident, and driven to attract investors. And with success: Today, Ava generates 80 percent of its sales in the United States. Its largest investors include Zurcher Cantonalbank and Swisscom.
It bothers her that contraception is still treated as a women’s issue and women’s health products are still a niche market.
Like many companies, the coronavirus pandemic caused a rift in Ava’s success story. While the baby boom was recorded in Switzerland in 2021, the desire for children among American women decreased. The reason for this is not that they no longer wanted children, but the precarious financial situation in which many found themselves due to the corona pandemic.
In the United States, health insurance is handled privately or by an employer. Due to layoffs and short work hours, many women suddenly lost health insurance, and plans for children had to be shelved. As a result, Ava had to lay off 40 employees. This was probably one of the toughest jobs the Managing Director had to face in his career so far.
As of the decision of the US Supreme Court, federal abortion law Tip two, which will impact the demand for fertility apps, cannot be predicted right now.
Pharma does little for women’s health
Ava isn’t the first company an HSG graduate has set up. At the age of 22, he opened a chocolate company in India. The bidder’s exceptional talent was also recently recognized in 2017 by the prestigious American magazine “Forbes”, which annually selects the most successful entrepreneurs under the age of 30. Von Bieder appeared on that “Forbes” list as well as her famous “30 under 30” list in healthcare the following year.
In a televised report, von Bieder says that such media reports are rather shameful. Not much is known about her personal life, except that she has been living in a six-person flat share with her husband in Zurich since returning from San Francisco two and a half years ago. And that he had a child. However, this is a topic they only address in the Swiss media, as she says in an interview with NZZ. In other countries, such as the United States, this is simply not relevant. It doesn’t bother her, but she notices it over and over again.
What bothers them is that contraception is still considered as a women’s issue and products and services for women’s health still have a place. Big pharmaceutical companies will hardly invest in this area. Unfortunately, unless Big Pharma invests in and researches it, little will change for women’s health.
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