Mira: Fertility Monitoring Using AIBy Travers O'Leary
Mira: Fertility Information in the Palm of Your Hands
Mira is an AI powered health monitoring platform that enables consumers to make better decisions about their health. I sat down Co-Founder and CEO, Sylvia Kang, to hear more about the startups auspicious beginning and plans for the future.
Mira is aiming to disrupt the home medical testing industry. It’s first target – women’s health. The premier device, Mira Fertility, launched in September 2018, provides women (and their healthcare providers), seamless access to their personalized hormone cycles so they know when they are best able to conceive. The product offers personalized cycle prediction by measuring hormone concentrations in urine samples. Mira provides hospital-level accuracy (99%) and is designed for home use. The AI learns the women’s specific personalized cycle variability which generates precise cycle prediction. Through Bluetooth, the device syncs with the Mira App, eliminating the need for manual charting, giving data directly to the consumer.
The company behind Mira, Quanovate, was founded in 2015 by a group of scientists, engineers, OGBYN doctors, and business executives to solve the problem of the lack of accurate home fertility testing devices. Through Mira, they provide an obtainable, low cost-device, that puts typically expensive fertility information in the hands of consumers so they can make decisions about their health.
Sylvia Kang, the co-founder and CEO of Quanovate, holds an MBA from Cornell University and an MS in Biomedical Engineering from Columbia. Kang credits her Cornell MBA with enabling her to take a customized immersion to explore her career goals in the life sciences industry. At Cornell, Kang says that she was able to leverage her life sciences background, while sharpening her critical thinking and leadership skills. She was inspired to create Mira from her personal experiences and the struggles her friends faced when trying to get pregnant. Currently each IVF cycle costs upwards of $30,000 with no guarantee of being successful. What’s more, many women must go through multiple cycles that are not covered by insurance. She laments the process is stressful and emotionally draining. Rather, the journey should be easy, smooth, and data driven. That was why she invented Mira.
Testing From Home: An Industry Ripe for Disruption
Indeed, the $24 billion women’s health and chronic disease testing market is one that offers many opportunities for start-ups and their backers to introduce innovative products and services. Further, the market is expected to grow at an eight percent rate annually driven by improvements in technology and a consumer desire for real-time, personalized information. Other trends such as rising healthcare costs, women waiting longer to reproduce, and a shortage of healthcare resources are all key variables that contribute to a friendly market for at-home testing technology geared toward the fertility industry.
However, this is all easier said than done, and something that the industry hasn’t quite been able to crack – until Mira. The common device in this space today is the standard, at-home fertility strip that only shows if one is pregnant or not. What’s more, other fertility and hormone tests that can be completed in a healthcare facility only provide a snapshot comparison of hormone levels at at a given time. This isn’t very useful as studies suggest women’s hormone levels change on an hourly basis. With 43% of women taking over three months to conceive, it’s no wonder there is a desire to have more insight into fertility cycles. And the market for women’s health technology in this is growing – other products such as Modern Fertility, Cue, and Kinsa all provide some level of at-home health tracking. Whether or not it is fertility, temperature, or wellness. However, where Mira differentiates itself is in its level of accuracy as an at-home device that does not require interaction with a third party.
Think about it: as the average age of conception in the United States continues to rise, an increasing number of women will experience increased difficulties with getting and remaining pregnant. Kang says this is what motivated her:
“This technology is completely different from all the test strips on the market. It’s more accurate, but more importantly, this one is quantitative – that means we give you your actual formal [hormone] concentrations. The tests strips only give you positive or negative. Since we have your numbers, our AI can do pattern recognition. Our algorithm prediction is based on your pattern specifically, not the average of all the population.”
– Sylvia Kang, Co-Founder and CEO of Quanovate
When Mira gets the science and information right, consumers save on costly trips to the doctor and get closer to understanding their unique fertility cycle. Mira offers further competitive advantage from home testing market incumbents with 18 IPs covering hardware, software, database management, design patents, and other key assets.
Getting the Business Model Right
For start-ups such as Mira, who are first movers in their space, one of the biggest challenges is developing a successful business model. Kang believes that Mira has gotten it right with it’s two-part pricing – Mira Fertility will be priced at $199 and comes with a current promotion of 10 free testing wands. Additional testing wands are only $2.50 each, achieving the company’s mission to put the product within grasp of women who need it most. Why does Kang think she got it right? Well, the first orders have already sold out and Mira is in the process of fulfilling order five to six weeks out. Based on revenue models, Mira seeks to double its revenue in 2019.
Mira’s Expansion to China and Beyond
As with most consumer products, the Chinese market plays a pivotal role in Mira’s growth strategy. China’s population at advanced child-bearing age stands at 50 million and this increasingly urbanized populace is exactly the type of consumer that Mira should target. Kang is keenly aware of this fact and she has already started a team in China with the goal of a product-launch in the first quarter of 2019. As the market for Mira continues to grow, she hopes to expand Mira’s reach across the world.
And what about the world beyond the fertility testing market? Kang says that Mira Fertility is the first of many products in their home-testing medical device portfolio. Quanovate has plans to launch a number of products that applies their AI technology to health problems like kidney disease, thyroid disorders, and Vitamin D deficiency. They hope to ultimately expand into the health and fitness space within the next five years. What’s more – Mira is also working on interface so that information from Mira can easily be shared with your healthcare provider remotely. Mira actively differentiates itself in the fertility industry and could further disrupt adjacent markets with its innovative technology.
Bottom line is that Mira is already differentiating itself in the crowded fertility industry and could further disrupt similar markets with its AI as it moves into the similarly competitive healthcare and fitness markets. If you’re at all interested in consumer healthcare products with a mission-focused founder, keep an eye on Mira, I certainly will.