When your startup’s primary mission is about to be turned upside down – TechCrunch
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Hi Jane, a digital health startup expanding access to abortion pills, makes sense. It is a direct-to-consumer pharmacy that aims to meet consumers where they are, which is especially important as the extended stay of the pandemic continues.
The main product of Hey Jane has a lot of bureaucracy to deal with. Its main product, abortion pills, is banned or restricted in several states. Add the fact that Roe vs. Wade is about to be overthrown, and the future of the world could clash with the startup’s mission to expand healthcare. Hey Jane pretty much underlines the potential — and promise — of telehealth startups. But it also operates at the heart of an overly politicized issue.
Earlier this month, I wrote about how digital health startups are preparing for a post-Roe world. Then Hey Jane co-founder Kiki Freedman said the reversal makes abortion care by mail “now likely to be the most viable form of access for most of the country.” One obstacle, she says, will be the lack of consumer education about medical abortions. The majority of abortions performed in the United States are done via medication, except she says a minority of people are educated on the nuances of medical abortion. “It is imperative that we continue to educate people about this safe, effective and common abortion option,” she wrote in a statement.
But now I want to follow up on those reactions the next day. Next week, I plan to interview Freedman for TechCrunch’s Equity podcast and ask him how to start a business when the mission can be irreversibly challenged by our government; we’ll talk about the origin story and how they plan to pivot in the future. I want her to tell me what the world is wrong about telemedicine’s ability to answer the biggest health questions right now, and where startups could fit into the solution in the future. Also, do they actually raise a cycle of growth? For the answers, be sure to tune into Episode Equity wherever you get podcasts, and, heck, why not start now?
In the rest of this newsletter, we’ll talk about another round of startup layoffs, why your MVP isn’t the MVP, and a fintech company that’s betting even your local credit card needs time for Netflix & Chill. As always, you can support me by forwarding this newsletter to a friend or follow me on twitter or my blog.
More layoffs in startup country
There is unfortunately more where last week came from. Tech workers had another tough week of layoffs and hiring freezes, coming from startups such as Section4, Latch and DataRobot. We’ve collated some of the known headcount reductions into one post.
Here’s why it’s important: The impact has been felt in sectors ranging from education to security, as well as stages from a post-Series A startup to a recently SPAC company. To me, this shows how pervasive this pushback really is, no matter what phase your business is in. It’s not just cash-rich tech unicorns that are cutting staff; these are also startups in the early stages.
Your MVP is neither minimal nor viable nor a product
I’ve been thinking about this title by Haje Jan Kamps for the past week because it challenges one of those preconceived notions of startups that everyone happily embraces without too much of a fight. Aka, my sweet spot (and my weakness). In this op-ed, Kamps explains why MVP is “such a profound misnomer” and what to focus on instead.
Here’s why it’s important: Kamps’ new framework and set of questions you should ask your first product should make the complexities of MVPs a little more accessible. And I’ll end with his kicker:
“I don’t have a suggestion for a better name for MVP, but don’t fall into the trap of viewing it as a product, viable, or, necessarily, small, simple, or easy. Some MVPs are complex. The idea, however , is to spend as little of your precious resources as possible to get your questions answered.
Jay-Z’s Queen A
For the deal of the week that may have flown under your radar, I choose Altro! Co-founded by Michael Broughton and Ayush Jain, this fintech start-up believes access to credit should be free. So she found an unusual way to help people build credit.
Here’s why it’s important: Altros, which raised $18 million in Series A this week, helps people credit themselves through recurring forms of payment such as digital subscriptions to Netflix, Spotify and Hulu. This stands out because many banks targeted at low-income and historically disenfranchised people want to bypass credit scores altogether – while Altros wants to alter access to an established system. I highly recommend reading Mary Ann’s story about the company’s origins, fundraising journey and spotlight – and subscribing to her newsletter, The Interchange.
All week long
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Until next time,