Women’s health startup Caraway launches on US college campuses

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  • Caraway is a college women’s health tech startup offering mental, physical, and reproductive care.
  • The startup launched care services in four states today after pilots in New York and California.
  • Here’s why Caraway’s founders and investors are betting big on this underserved market.

When one of Caraway’s first members started using the telehealth service, she was faced with an unexpected $150 copay for her birth control prescription. As a new college student, the patient was navigating the world of healthcare for the first time and didn’t know how to avoid the massive cost.

When she brought her problem to Caraway, the startup virtually put her in touch with a gynecologist who worked with her insurance to prescribe a different birth control medication that was not only covered, but could be picked up at her university’s student health center instead. from an off-campus pharmacy.

Over the course of the member’s treatment, her care specialists also learned about her history of thyroid and mental health issues and were able to refer her to additional care resources for her physical and mental health.

“The conversation was started in one visit,” said startup co-founder Lori Evans Bernstein.

This woman’s experience is an example of how Caraway says she is working to provide personalized mental, physical and reproductive health services via telehealth to Gen Z women in college. As of today, the startup officially launched on 34 college campuses in New York, California, after spending the fall quietly ramping up operations at pilot colleges in September, including Columbia University, New York University, Vassar College and the University of California-Berkeley. . This month, Caraway will also launch in Ohio and North Carolina.

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Founded earlier this year by Evans Bernstein and Joshua Taber, Caraway’s goal is to support college women with their healthcare needs and educate them in the process. Evans Bernstein explained that as someone who has worked in the health care space for years, she has seen the quality of care drop while the young, college-age women in her life increasingly struggled with their work, physical health and mental health.

A telehealth option for Gen Z women in college

The women’s health space is crowded, with more femtech startups that never popping up to take a portion of a forecast market grow to $58.24 billion by 2030, according to Grandview Research. Telemedicine startups like Unicorn Maven Clinic and Tia, along with birth control startups The Pill Club and SimpleHealth have gained attention and venture dollars.

Caraway came out of stealth in July with $10.5 million in supergiant seed funding led by founding partners Chrissy Farr at OMERS Ventures and Alyssa Jaffee at 7wireVentures. The larger-than-usual seed round gave Caraway enough money to fuel growth in an underserved market, Farr and Jaffee told Insider.

“The goal is to build a truly generational company, and it takes a lot of capital to make sure that happens,” said Alyssa Jaffee, partner at 7wireVentures.

For a membership fee of $20 per month or $120 per year, Caraway members receive full-service virtual health care for mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and sleep problems; physical health problems such as acne, allergies, birth control, abortion counseling; and common illnesses such as colds; flus; sinus infections; streptococcus and mono. The startup also provides referrals for in-person appointments, such as annual physicals and IUD placement.

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Caraway does not currently offer medical abortion services, gender-affirming care, eating disorder treatment, or ADHD diagnoses, but will work with members on referrals and to provide ongoing care virtually.

The startup serves the community of “more women” and aims to include all races, ethnicities, gender identities and sexual orientations between the ages of 18 and 27.

Education as a key piece of health

Caraway is also betting heavily on using personalized education and campus outreach as a way to attract more customers.

Within the app, patients can ask a 24/7 care specialist questions about how they can access different services based on their current status. Access to reproductive health services varies greatly from state to state, especially after Roe v. Wade was overruled in June 2022.

“We’re trying to focus on solutions now because we want to arm young women with the independence and skills they need when it comes to their health,” said Evans Bernstein.

Care specialists also provide direct education to students on mental health, such as techniques to reduce stress and anxiety flare-ups. The company hopes to focus on prevention and help for women before their stress turns into an anxiety diagnosis, Evans Bernstein said.

Other startups like Mantra Health, which raised a $22 million Series A last year, it also focused on the mental health of college students.

The company is also incorporating education into its outreach strategy, hiring students on college campuses to spread the word about Caraway. So far, the startup has 13 “Caraway Campus Ambassadors,” or interns, on college campuses in the states it currently operates in. Along with the growth of its ambassador program, Caraway in 2023 is also looking to expand to more states and will begin providing in-person care through student health center partnerships.

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As the startup grows, Evans Bernstein said Caraway’s focus is on improving the health care experience for an entire generation of young people.

“I think seeding a different experience for Gen Z women will help inspire more systemic changes in the health system that we definitely need,” she said.