After enduring her own journey with in vitro fertilization, Denver resident Abby Mercado has created an app to improve the overwhelming, complex process of fertility treatments.
Best Shot, a Denver-based healthcare startup that completed the 2020 Techstars Boulder accelerator program, said last week that it has partnered with three fertility clinics to pilot the app starting in August.
The clinics include Conceptions Reproductive Associates of Colorado, which has five locations in the metro area.
“There’s so much that could be better for patients with regards to IVF, especially when the science and procedure is getting more popular,” Mercado said. “One in eight people are diagnosed with infertility. But the technology is not fit for millennials, who are very used to navigating the internet; it’s in the Stone Age.”
When Mercado and her husband Sean tried to get pregnant naturally, they were faced with an unfortunate infertile diagnosis. With a 1 percent chance of natural pregnancy, they turned to IVF.
A couple of weeks after starting her first IVF round, however, Mercado unexpectedly became pregnant naturally. Unfortunately, she suffered a miscarriage, which she later learned likely was caused by a mistake she made in administering a fertility medication.
“I wanted the opportunity to sell clinics an application that would make it easier for patients to make sure that what happened to us doesn’t happen to them, which is miscarry because of a medication error that could have been prevented with the right technology tools,” Mercado said.
Months later, Mercado’s IVF treatment proved successful, and she became pregnant with twins. On a road trip with her husband through Texas, they reflected on their pregnancy journey and thought about the ways they could make the IVF experience easier for patients. That’s when Best Shot was born.
Last year, Mercado pitched her idea at Techstars’ Startup Weekend Women Denver competition, and won. After the app gained some traction, and she had her twins, Mercado quit her full-time job as a venture capitalist for Denver’s Altira Group and put all of her energy into Best Shot.
“We started researching the market and identifying the pain points in the IVF process,” Mercado said. “Medication adherence was one, and learning about medications was another one. When I was researching these meds, I found information all over Google and it wasn’t at my fingertips. The third pain point is 65 percent of patients are cash pay, so selecting a specialty pharmacy is quite the adventure.”
Best Shot aims to answer all of these issues.
The app helps patients find a fertility clinic that fits them best and allows them to get to know the medical team. It also helps patients with the medication ordering process and locates specialty pharmacies that meet their priorities, whether those have to do with cost, customer service or insurance coverage.
Once the patient receives their medication, Best Shot can help identify each one and explain the medication’s effects on the body. The app also creates a medication plan that walks the patient through what to take and when, to avoid errors like the one Mercado experienced.
“Best Shot is the story of my life and the story of my family, so I’m driven to do whatever I can to see it through,” Mercado said.
After graduating from the Techstars accelerator program, the company closed on an oversubscribed, private pre-seed investment round. It’s working on growing its team of three employees, which includes Chief Technology Officer Peregrin Marshall, who was the founding CTO of Denver’s RxRevu, which tackles pharmaceutical pricing transparency for health systems.
Mercado said Best Shot already has gained a lot of interest from doctors and clinics across the country. Once the monthlong pilot programs are complete and they collect the data they need to refine the app, Mercado plans to enter into commercial agreements with fertility clinics.