Written by Zachariah Reitano
Written by Zachariah Reitano
LAST UPDATED: Feb 28, 2022
4 MIN READ
One Sunday morning, Tom, the founder of Dadi, was checking the support inbox (as the great founders often do), and he saw an email from a customer named Adam with the subject line “HELP”. Adam had ordered a Sperm Kit earlier that week for analysis and storage but the shipment had been delayed by a large snowstorm. Adam started chemotherapy on Monday.
Without hesitating, Tom went to the office, grabbed a Sperm Kit, rented a car, and drove 8 hours straight to Adam. Tom knocked on the door and explained who he was. Adam was having a gathering at his apartment to honor the start of his journey, surrounded by friends and family. Adam welcomed Tom into his home.
While this was a new story for me, it was all too familiar for Tom.
Tom, Mackey, and Gordon originally started Dadi when one of Tom’s closest friends was diagnosed with cancer and had to confront the exact same decisions as Adam. It sent the three of them down a rabbit hole. What they discovered was an industry rooted in science and technology but also one that hadn’t evolved significantly from the patient’s perspective in almost 40 years. They saw the opportunity to reinvent the male fertility industry by making sperm collection and fertility testing easy and affordable. Taking a complex problem and creating a simplified process that is easy for consumers to follow within the comfort of their own homes.
Their friend’s cancer diagnosis, their own personal journeys, and the opportunity to help millions of people and couples make more informed family planning decisions motivated them to start Dadi with the bold mission of normalizing the conversation around reproductive health.
After spending time with the team, it was clear we shared a way of building for others and that we could accomplish more together than apart. Today, I’m incredibly excited to welcome Dadi to Ro.
Let me tell you a little bit more about the problem, the product, and what we hope to build together in the future.
The data surrounding male factor fertility, both present and trending future, is startling and concerning.
1 in 10 men have experienced fertility problems
1 in 7 couples can’t get pregnant after 12 months of trying
Male factor infertility is typically discovered after 1 year of a couple unable to get pregnant (and can lead to an increased burden on the female partner where applicable)
Contrary to popular belief, sperm quality declines with age
33% of known cases of infertility are male factor, 33% are female factor, and 33% are unknown
The data tells the story of massive challenges standing in the way of enabling people to live the life they want to lead. People need information as early as possible. People need affordable and seamless access to storage to either maximize quality or simply as an insurance policy. And last but not least, we will need significant scientific discovery to bridge the gap of the unknown causes of infertility.
Today, semen analysis and storage is primarily used by people about to do IVF, start chemo chemotherapy, start hormone therapy, prior to a vasectomy, or for people with a high-risk profession (e.g., military). The age range is people in their 10s (typically cancer patients) to 50+. It can be extremely expensive (e.g., $1500/analysis, $1000/year for storage), inconvenient or uncomfortable (i.e., too few clinics and providing a sample at a doctor’s office is less fun than at home), or worse, the option is frequently never made available to many whose fertility may be seriously affected by a personal choice, professional risk, or medical treatment.
The Dadi team took a first principle approach to redesign the male fertility experience. It needed to work for the patients most in need and, to truly have the impact the team wanted, to help millions of people proactively understand and store their sperm as early as possible, it also had to be accessible to — and normalized for — everyone.
They made it less intimidating, more personal, more accessible, and more affordable to patients. They thought about all the details, large and small. In January 2019, they launched the first nationwide at-home sperm collection kit allowing customers to collect in the comfort of their homes and ship their kit back to the lab, while reducing the long-term cost of storage by 10x.
How does it work?
After the kit arrives, the patient collects the sample in the cup, presses a button on the lid which releases a preservative inside the chamber, which mixes with the semen on the way back to the lab. The cup is placed in a patented temperature resistant kit, where materials inside the kit will release cooling or heating to maintain the desired temperature inside the kit, whether it’s winter in New York or summer in Arizona to allow for four season collection and transport of semen. The patient also locks the kit with a two factor authenticated tamper proof seal to ensure no one has tampered with the sample during transport. Once the kit is mailed to the lab, the patient will receive a semen analysis in a matter of days, plus a free year of storage. All of this done for one tenth the cost, an order of magnitude less expensive than a traditional clinic, from the convenience of a patient’s home.
One of the things that impressed us most was the culture that the Dadi team had created. It was one that fostered innovation. It was one that truly embraced long term thinking and balanced it beautifully with short term realities (as one of their principles reads: they “Dream big. Execute small.”). They cared more about getting it right than being right. They were stubborn on the vision and flexible on the details. It was the combination of what they had built, what they had invested in but yet to launch, and “the how’’ behind all of it that led us to join forces, which ultimately enabled us to announce today the launch of the Ro Sperm Kit. While the Dadi brand will sunset, the incredible team will continue to invent for patients.
This is another large investment in fertility services for Ro. With our acquisition of Modern Fertility last year and now Dadi, we’re positioned to create the most comprehensive suite of direct-to-patient fertility products and services for both individuals and couples.
Over the next 12 months, you’ll see all disparate brands and websites come together under a single Ro brand, where we’ll be able to help patients with everything from mental health to fertility to men’s health to women’s health to skincare to metabolic health. All in service of helping patients achieve their goals. The human body has no walls and neither should your healthcare.
Welcome Dadi. This is just the beginning.