Fertility and pregnancy test startup Stix raised a $1.3M seed round - Technical.ly


Fertility and pregnancy test startup Stix raised a $1.3M seed round

At the beginning of the year, the company was doing well, said cofounder Cynthia Plotch — but then the pandemic hit and exacerbated the need for accessible women's healthcare services.

[caption id="attachment_16313" align="alignright" width="250"] Stroll CEO Dan Roitman[/caption] Center City-based ecommerce company Stroll is growing fast. The firm, led by University of Maryland grad Dan Roitman, now employs 170 people. Stroll uses analytics and internet marketing tools to sell educational products, and Roitman says from 2010 to 2011, Stroll has increased sales of its lead product, a language learning program called The Pimsleur Approach, by 135 percent. In 2005, publisher Simon & Schuster licensed the rights to the Pimsleur Approach to Stroll, according to the company's website. Stroll is now Simon & Schuster's biggest audio program retailer. The company is looking to acquire more educational products to sell, Roitman says. In the first half of 2012, Stroll has been hiring at the speedy rate of eight people per month, Roitman says, and is continuing to hire. Most of its 170 employees work out of its offices at 16th and John F. Kennedy Blvd., but 25 work out of its distribution center in Northeast Philadelphia. The majority of Stroll's staff work for its call center. And there's been buzz about the company: Roitman won an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Award last month, along with Monetate founder David Brussin. The company was also featured in the Philadelphia Inquirer a few months ago. Roitman, 33, says he started the company in 2000 in his dorm room and moved to Philly in 2003 to be close to a supplier and cut down on delivery costs. But he ended up falling in love "with the energy of the city," he said. He now lives in Fairmount with his wife and daughter.

About a year and a half after pregnancy and fertility tests startup Stix was launched by cofounders Cynthia Plotch and Jamie Norwood, the pair announced Wednesday that the startup has raised a $1.3 million seed round.

Plotch and Norwood launched the pregnancy and fertility startup that ships tests directly to a customer’s house and offers a subscription service after having their own uncomfortable experiences purchasing pregnancy tests. The startup aims to simplify obtaining and using the tests, and to provide women with education about their physical and mental health. Customers can purchase a one-time test pack, or subscribe for monthly deliveries.

Before the pair worked together at Hungry Harvest, they were friends in the Venture for America program, which places recent college graduates at startups to learn how to launch their own companies. They participated in the Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator in New York City last year, and work out of coworking space Offsite in non-pandemic times.

This seed funding comes from investors BDMI, Rogue Women’s Fund, Vamos Ventures and Johnson & Johnson Innovation via its investment in Founders Factory New York, among others.

“By allowing women to learn their bodies as whole, Stix empowers every woman to be informed about how to best take care of herself,” said Maya Baratz Jordan, CEO and partner of Founders Factory NY. “And I would never bet against Stix‘s unstoppable founding team.”

The fundraising is allowing Plotch and Norwood to bring on some additional team members, having just hired a brand marketing director, with a customer experience associate starting next week. The next big hire would be a product person, Plotch told Technical.ly.


At the beginning of the year, the startup was doing well, but then the pandemic hit and exacerbated the need for accessible women’s healthcare services, Plotch said. The biggest recent trend for the company is seeing their customers trying not to get pregnant right now: The cofounders had anticipated seeing a baby boom for couples stuck in quarantine together, but it’s been the opposite.

“People’s pregnancy plans are changing,” Plotch said. “People are pausing their family planning, as their financial plans and the world has been full of uncertainty.”

It put the company in a good position to prove to investors how critical its services and products are. The company had been growing by about 180% per quarter, said the cofounder, and she and Norwood watched as demand for products grew in certain areas of the country.

Having the products directly delivered to peoples’ homes along with a library of educational health content on their website allows for some accessibility, especially in states where women’s healthcare is more restricted or were locked down heavily because of the virus. In early March, for instance, as Washington state became the first area of the U.S. to shut down, sales grew in the Pacific Northwest.

In the next six months, the newly expanded team plans on launching new products and doubling down on its educational content offerings.

“Our goal is to provide women the products and education they need,” Plotch said. “And we want to continue to build deep and meaningful relationships with our customers and help them manage their health throughout their life.”

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