Investing in Mae: Connecting Black Expectant Mothers With Critical Resources to Drive Positive Pregnancy Outcomes

We are excited to officially announce our investment in Mae, a health equity startup that combines digital pregnancy and postpartum support with local community-based doulas.

We are excited to announce our investment in Mae. The health equity startup issued a formal press release in early May to share the news of their oversubscribed seed funding round. Founded and led by Maya Hardigan, Mae combines a digital engagement and risk-tracking platform with community-based doula support. By centering pregnant mothers throughout the perinatal journey, Mae empowers expectant mothers, particularly those from underserved communities, to reduce disparate maternal health outcomes. 

There is an urgent need for innovation and investment in maternal health. Maternal mortality rates in the United States are three times higher than that of other industrialized nations, and CDC data shows U.S. maternal mortality rates increased by 40% from 2020 to 2021. The maternal health crisis is even more devastating for Black women, who are 3x more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications compared to white women. Additionally, Black women face a 43% higher miscarriage risk

Factors contributing to these statistics include unequal access to quality healthcare, prevalence of chronic conditions, systemic racism, and implicit biases within the healthcare system. These trends underscore the pressing need for innovative solutions to address the root causes of maternal health disparities and ensure equitable care for all expectant mothers. 

Mae’s seed raise represents a critical step towards addressing these inequalities and improving maternal and infant health outcomes.

Why We Invested in Mae:

Strong Investor Syndicate with Expertise in FemTech/Reproductive Health: This round of financing brought together a strong consortium of investors with deep expertise in femtech and reproductive health, including Jumpstart Nova, SteelSky Ventures, and RH Capital bring together a consortium of investors deeply rooted in femtech and reproductive health. We were thrilled to be able to invest alongside Bright Ventures, a fund within Gratitude’s Inclusive Capital Fund strategy.  

Highly Qualified Team with Extensive Payer Network: Mae boasts an esteemed leadership team led by Founder & CEO Maya Hardigan and Head of Growth Alisha Lalani, together who bring 20 years of experience in maternal health, payers, and Medicaid. Hardigan’s tenure at Pfizer and her prior involvement as a board member of Kangu, a crowd funding platform for safe births, demonstrates her expertise in mobile innovation and maternal health advocacy; Lalani’s background in maternal health initiatives in East Africa and Jackson, Mississippi underscores her commitment to addressing disparities in healthcare access. Mae’s superpower has been its ability to successfully win payer contracts. 

Market Tailwinds and Efficacy: Mae’s strategic focus on partnering with Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) aligns with emerging trends in healthcare, as MCOs increasingly seek equity-focused innovation partnerships to mitigate adverse birthing outcomes for BIPOC mothers. The recent legislative momentum surrounding Medicaid doula care coverage further propels Mae’s mission, with more than half of U.S. states actively providing or moving towards such coverage. Moreover, impending regulations addressing race-based disparities in payer performance dovetail with solutions like Mae’s, which aim to promote fully covered doula care for Medicaid beneficiaries. Mae has already demonstrated tangible impact, supporting beneficiaries in six states and helping Black mothers achieve a 30% reduction in C-section and preterm birth rates as compared with the national averages for Black women. 

Feel free to reach out to our team to learn more about Mae and how you can collaborate with us on our investments!