Tulip, the world’s largest egg donor database and trusted resource for intended parents to find their ideal donor, has recently announced the closing of a $1.7M seed round. Launched in November of 2020, Tulip has quickly amassed donors from 90% of the agencies in the U.S. with nearly 20,000 egg donors within its database. The user-friendly, online search platform today helps intended parents navigate the once challenging process of finding an egg donor by offering them vast egg donor choices expert knowledge and coaching support.
Founded by the team that built Donor Concierge, the leading third-party fertility service, Tulip provides access to an array of donors and services through their immense network of fully-vetted agencies throughout the U.S.
We sat down with co-founder Gail Sexton Anderson to learn more about the story behind her company and her plans to turn Tulip into the go-to platform for third-party fertility.
Thanks for making time for this, Gail! Can you tell us a bit more about yourself and your company. How did you get into third party fertility?
Sure. So my background is in psychology. I have a Masters in Counseling from Harvard Graduate School of Education. And when my children were very young, I sort of fell into this category of working with what we call third party fertility. Very serendipitously really. I moved next door to a woman who had an egg donor and surrogacy program. And because my background was in psychology, it just seemed like there was a good fit. I found that I really loved working with people who were going through this process, helping them to feel much more comfortable.
I ended up working for a few different agencies over the years. 25 years ago when I got started in this business, looking for an egg donor essentially meant almost blindly picking someone from a list yet everyone wanted to find someone they could somehow relate to. And I wanted to help intended parents find what they were looking for, rather than being limited to a few options that were being shared by their clinic. This is how Donor Concierge, the business that eventually turned into Tulip, got started. We created the world’s largest database and made it accessible to everyone. This makes the process of finding an egg donor easier and more efficient.
So you first build a concierge service and then turned it into a tech platform that matches intended parents with donors. Was this always the plan or did this vision evolve over time?
I just really wanted to make things easier for everyone involved. Technology has evolved so much over the past decades and this has opened up a lot of opportunities in our business. We use the relationships we’ve built with egg donor agencies nation-wide over the years to create and continuously update our database. They know us and trust us. Listing on Tulip is also free for them. Intended parents can subscribe for $99 per month to get access to these “baseball cards of potential donors” and receive support from an online coach who can help answer any questions that come up along the way.
Our database currently has around 20000 donors. We are of course always looking to grow this number. Next we’re planning to add surrogacy and eventually more frozen egg and sperm programs as well as embryo donation. I’d also love to add the services of attorneys and mental health professionals to the platform.
We don’t talk much about infertility and there is a lot of stigma still. Has this affected your business or your fundraise?
Yes. We’ve bootstrapped and haven’t had any VC backing up until now. We met with several investors, but many don’t understand why there’s need for our service or platform. One VC told us he had 5 kids and had never heard of anyone who had gone through this process and worked with an egg donor. I just thought that he probably knows a few people who went through this or struggled with infertility in some way. They just never shared their story with him. Infertility is considered such a private thing. Many are embarrassed, don’t talk about their struggles conceiving so there is a lot of stigma around infertility still.
With the funds from our recently announced seed round we plan to scale operations now, but we are looking to raise additional capital soon to expand our offering into surrogacy. In the long run we want Tulip to be a trusted source for all intended parents and the go-to place for third party fertility.