Startup Series: Caria - the first AI-powered platform for women in menopause
Antler portfolio company Caria is the first AI-powered platform for women in menopause. To celebrate World Menopause day, they introduced Caria Premium Memberships last week. Co-founders Arfa Rehman and Scott Gorman collaborated with the Antler US team to build and refine this membership and launch several new features, which include a new digital behavioral health program and more advanced health tracking.
After meeting at Oxford, Arfa and Scott built and commercialized their first product Virtue, a VR-based digital therapeutic for cognitive health and dementia, which ultimately sold to the UK's National Health Service (NHS). The idea for Caria emerged as the duo researched healthcare technology for Virtue and realized a glaring lack of innovation existed in women's post-reproductive health. Arfa explains, "It was an eye-opening experience for me because I learned that when women enter peri menopause - which lasts four to five years on average - we go through physiological changes that have profound implications for our long-term health. But this critical turning point is largely ignored. The healthcare system is just not set up to help women get the support they need; AARP reports that less than 20 percent of OBGYN residency programs in the US offer formal training in treating menopause. That's a shocking statistic."
Arfa and Scott built Caria for the 1 billion women in menopause worldwide. According to AARP, 75% of women in peri menopause (aged 40-55) experience an impact on their mental, physical, and sexual health due to symptoms like anxiety, depression, painful sex, brain fog, and joint pain. Combining symptoms data with personal preferences, Caria takes a holistic approach to provide women answers about their bodies and connects them to personalized care, evidence-based programs, and a supportive community during menopause. It's estimated that 42% of women spend more than a year getting a diagnosis and finding the right care for the challenges that emerge during menopause. By providing data-driven, personalized solutions, Caria saves women time and money in sourcing treatment. "It's 2020, we have the technology, there's a huge demand - so there's no excuse for the lack of innovation. We need to develop solutions that help every woman navigate this normal but challenging phase of life. It's all about connecting women to the answers, the support, and the relief that they need quickly, at low cost, and with greater compassion," says Arfa.
Arfa encourages prospective health tech founders to look beyond the obvious and admits that, while healthcare challenges are harder to solve, innovation is crucial and there's an enormous opportunity to make substantial impact. She adds, "There are huge, invisible pain points and vacuums that exist in healthcare. Menopause is a great example of that, which is crazy because women have always gone through it. Look to the underserved groups with pain points, where the healthcare system isn't delivering. There's huge potential to build valuable, impactful businesses in those gaps."
As for their experience working with Antler, the Caria team remarks‚ "There are definitely programs which have a lot of, you know, fluff. But Antler focuses on the needs of the founders and the company, which is unique. The Antler team is dedicated to making your company successful and they work with you to make things happen according to your needs."
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