His startup consulting firm aims to help couples have children

The unfulfilled desire to have children is painful. There are ways to tackle this – however, the market is confusing. Fertility wants to be a leader

Christoph Guentrum Müller has been a management consultant to the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) for many years.

Every tenth married couple in Germany does not accidentally have children. This is the result of a recent study conducted by the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs. To some, this may seem like a mere statistic. But you have to imagine that: everyone. The tenth. Husband. The figure runs down Christoph Gruntrum-Muller’s spine like a cold chill. Because he knows that for every tenth husband, this means great sorrow and a lot of suffering. “For those affected, the unfulfilled desire to have children is torture.” Not many relationships can withstand this.

And, as if that wasn’t bad enough, the market for offers of what childless couples can do and try to change their fates is big, confusing, and very expensive. And this is exactly where Guntrum-Müller wants to start with his startup, to at least relieve the pain of feeling completely overwhelmed by a variety of (im) possibilities.

The startup has brought over 1,000 kids to the world

So in 2019 he founded the Berlin startup Fertilly. A platform where heterosexual and gay couples can learn more about family planning and fertility, get advice from staff and refer them to fertility centers. According to the founder, more than 1,000 babies have been born, and between 4,000 and 5,000 couples have received counseling since its inception and with the help of counseling. Not everyone wanted to have children right away. According to Guntrum-Müller, some simply sought advice on the subject of fertility.

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The startup also advises clients on financial issues. Things like: Does health insurance cover a portion of IVF? When yes, how much? And what are the conditions for that? According to Stiftung Warentest, a single treatment alone can cost between 3,000 and 5,000 euros. However, it takes an average of three to four treatments to be successful. Although federal states provide additional financial aid, each state does what it wants. No wonder, then, when couples lose track of who is entitled to how much funding and what precautions they should take beforehand.

Consultation is completely free for clients

Fertilly counselors do not perform any medical examinations themselves. However, they must explain the options available and, in discussions with clients, know what step they can take next. This could then be a signal to the fertility center. Or suggesting that the doctor do a pre-specified examination. In order to keep the barriers to entry as low as possible, discussions take place online – and they are also free.

But how does Fertelli make his money? Through cooperation with fertility clinics. In addition to consultations, clients can use the startup’s portal to upload and collect forms such as patient history sheets, as well as other information or results from doctors – and share them with relevant clinics. If a couple decides to go to the fertility clinic the startup works with, the counseling portal should keep boring anamnestic interviews in clinics to a minimum. These are initial admission interviews in which physicians get an idea of ​​a patient’s medical history. Clinics save time because they can start treatment faster – and money because they can treat more patients. This is the theory.

There are more than 120 fertility clinics in Germany. Fertilly has worked with a total of 30 of them so far. The Berlin company generates income through the so-called management fee, which the clinics transfer monthly. Guntrum-Müller does not want to disclose the fee hike. He also does not want to give any information about sales numbers from last year.

Eminent business angels participate

In the summer of 2021, Guntrum-Müller raised millions in a preliminary round. The founder is silent about the exact amount of the investment. But investors are well known. These projects include IBB Ventures, the Bank of Berlin Venture Fund, and early-stage investor TA Ventures, whose portfolio also includes solar system rental company Enpal and translation platform DeepL. According to the founder, prominent business angels are also among the supporters, including one of the founders of the Dax Mister Spex group and the chief financial officer of the US company One Medical, which has been listed on the US tech exchange Nasdaq since 2020.

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Guntrum-Müller invested a total of 100,000 euros in the company in its first two years of existence. Funds were allocated during his tenure as a management consultant at Boston Consulting Group. He started there after studying business administration at St. Gallen and Harvard.

The founder now employs about 20 people in his company. And it makes it an attractive proposition: every employee who wants to freeze their eggs only has to pay half the cost. The startup will take care of the other half. This is not a favorable relationship, especially for women. Because depending on the number of treatments, several thousand euros are accumulated. A man does not have to dig deeply into his pocket with several hundred euros because the treatment is not very complicated.

Traffic light government coalition agreement points in the right direction

Another advice platform that only informs women about social freezing or egg freezing, that is, about freezing their own egg cells, is called Ovavio. A different show awaits women and men in Layla’s company. The startup offers specially developed fertility analyzes and lab tests to find out the cause of pregnancy loss before couples pay thousands of euros for treatment at fertility clinics.

But startups don’t just deal with topics related to reproductive medicine. Politics also deals with it. The Traffic Light Government’s coalition paper states that IVF should become non-discriminatory. Example: Until now, health insurance companies have only paid subsidies for IVF to married couples. The traffic light government wants to change that — and also include gay, single, transgender or diverse couples in the promotion. Müller-Guntrum believes these changes are long overdue.

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