Females-In-Tech Spotlight: Afton Vechery
A leader in FemTech and reproduction, Afton Vechery has always been interested in entrepreneurship and STEM. She grew up in Maryland, starting a water quality testing venture in middle school. It was at this early age she learned how businesses are formed: “You put one foot in front of the other, that’s how you build a business.” She later explained on The Business of Wellness Podcast. While at Wake Forest, she started more companies. With degrees in Neuroscience, Business and Entrepreneurship, Afton moved to San Francisco and officially began her career in healthcare Private Equity.
It was here, in her early twenties, Afton learned the pains of conception and infertility. She heard very personal, moving stories about women not but a couple years older than herself, struggling to complete IVF, or learning for the first time how their bodies weren’t able to conceive. She did the math - the sub-industry was growing rapidly, and women were paying substantial out-of-pocket costs for basic healthcare information. She knew there was a way to optimize this space. Women were prioritizing their careers and so often planning pregnancies later in life. Culturally, motherhood started almost ten years later than it did fifty years ago. This wasn’t slowing down any time soon. Afton, herself, could relate to the timing balance of career and conception. Between the personal stories, additive numbers, and her own empathy, the dots were connecting early in her career. Still, timing wasn’t quite right.
Afton jumped to 23andMe where she led the consumer product division. Here she learned how people were willing to do at-home healthcare tests. She witnessed how important user testing is, and company camaraderie. She also cut her teeth in managing teams launching products - adapting devices to include new features, coordinating across legal, marketing, regulatory and clients to strategize prioritization, launching products, scaling and maintenance of output. 23andMe honed her leadership skills, and exposed her to the entire lifecycle of products. It was then that she understood a growing challenge that could be solved, and had the leadership experience to spearhead the solution.
Then, in 2017, Afton along with her co-founder, Carly Leahy, founded Modern Fertility. They started at the accelerator Y-combinator, and within a three-month sprint and enough information, numbers, and honed messaging to pitch to hundreds of investors at once. A funded SEED Round quickly followed. In her own words, Afton explains, “We found that you can go to a fertility clinic and take simple blood tests to check in on where you stand. But not everyone can afford them and the results can be tricky to decipher… So we started Modern Fertility as an easy way for every woman to get the info she needs to make decisions about her fertility." The Seed capital gave them enough runway to prove their concept and obtain numerous pre-orders.
Today, Modern Fertility has raised $22 Million. Afton is leading her team to focus on education and empowerment. They are unwavering in their healthcare standards; “There is no room for mistakes,” as Afton reminds us in a WellToDo interview. A company that tests simple at-home blood samples, and then communicates to their patients exactly what each individual’s own fertility “map” looks like, must be right 100% every test. She’s understandably proud of OBGYNs referring patients to Modern Fertility for information and testing.
Afton would like to see Modern Fertility continue to create fertility prediction resources. She mentions in INC magazine that 20% of millennials identify at LGBTQ+ and our current U.S. healthcare system doesn’t mirror that statistic - communities with alternative healthcare questions, education, and needs. She would like to use the Modern Fertility FemTech platform to merge world-renowned healthcare with a comfortable, consumer-friendly brand. It’s important for Modern Fertility to guide us through cozy convenient fertility and LGBTQ+ wellness.
Afton, still early by age in her career, is a seasoned entrepreneur and STEM expert. She recognizes the responsibilities FemTech leaders like herself uphold, and trends to invest in. Customers are demanding more accurate, individual, and transparent information about their own bodies. It’s her mission to make this knowledge more accessible, starting with women’s fertility. We applaud any woman at the helm of this mission and look forward to hearing more from Afton and Modern Fertility.