When She Matters co-founder Jade Kearney launched her company while a graduate student at NYU, she was looking to train psychologists to be culturally sensitive to the needs of Black women experiencing postpartum depression, women often left behind or ignored by the medical profession.
Since taking the company to TechStars at the end of last year, she has expanded on that idea to include a variety of problems related to Black women and postpartum health, partnering with healthcare systems. Today, the startup announced a $1.5 million pre-seed investment. Her eventual goal is to expand the platform to include other groups of underrepresented women, who have had similar experiences getting postpartum care.
She said that the original focus of the app was on postpartum anxiety and depression in Black women, and connecting these women with culturally sensitive therapists, but she saw an opportunity to help across a range of postpartum issues.
“We’ve since changed to focusing on [training] healthcare networks and independent healthcare practitioners. And we’re focusing on postpartum comorbidities. So that includes postpartum mental illness like anxiety and depression, but also preeclampsia and hemorrhaging, which are two of the biggest postpartum comorbidities that Black women experience,” Kearney told TechCrunch.
She says the new approach has enabled the company to move beyond just training individual therapists to healthcare networks where they sign up the entire network for cultural competency training, and these tend to be much bigger deals. “On average, when a hospital works with us, that contract is about $1.2 million and my my favorite aspect of this is that we do not charge Black moms for therapy,” she said.
The way it works is the hospital buys a subscription to the app and gives patients access to it as part of the care package they offer. While moms don’t have to sign up, they have the ability to do so with participating healthcare providers for free.
The company currently has six employees and is hiring with plans to have 15 by the end of the year.
As for the future, Kearney is planning on expanding the app further. “We just want to take the secret sauce that we have for Black women where we’ve made Black women feel comfortable and given them the tools to advocate for themselves, and we want to use that same approach for other folks,” she said.
The company has hired researchers and cultural experts for each one of those other groups to make sure that they’re giving the same amount of care and authenticity as possible, she said. Upcoming products will include ‘Ella Importa’ for Latina women, ‘They Matter’ for LGBTQ people and ‘Native Her’ for Native American women.
As she told TechCrunch earlier this year, trying to raise money as a Black woman building a company aimed at Black women and other underrepresented groups has been challenging for her, a process that she says left her emotionally drained and physically exhausted. “I feel like so many people don’t believe you. And this is not only white venture capitalists. This is Black venture capitalists who continue the tradition of marginalizing Black female founders because they want to be part of the status quo. I do not have one Black VC on my cap table. I have angels that are Black, but I don’t have one Black venture capitalist investor,” she said.
But she has found plenty of allies along the way, people who believe in her vision and keep pushing her. She said in particular the TechStars experience really helped her flesh out the company, and CEO Maelle Gavet was a real mentor to her, helping her navigate the difficult path to this funding round. She also points to her new board members including Alexander Packard, president at Iora Health, who has been appointed her board chair and Eric Ries, Author of The Lean Startup, who is a member of the board, as two people who have helped her get to this point.
Today’s $1.5 million pre-seed investment came from Oxeon Ventures, Chingona Ventures, The Fund and Emmeline Ventures.