Welcome to Startups Weekly, a new human take on this week’s startup news and trends. To receive this in your inbox, register here.
Hey Jane, a digital health startup that scales access to abortion pills, makes sense. It is a direct-to-consumer pharmacy that aims to serve consumers where they are, which is especially important as the long-term pandemic continues.
Hey Jane’s flagship product has significant bureaucracy to deal with. Its flagship product, abortion pills, are banned or restricted in several states. Add the fact that Roe vs Wade is set to fall, and the future of the world could collide with the startup’s mission to expand healthcare. Hey Jane underscores 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 move makes abortion care via mail “now probably the most viable form of access for most of the country.” One obstacle, she hopes, will be a lack of education among consumers about drug-induced abortions. Most abortions performed in the US are through medication, except she says a minority of people are educated about 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 her about how to build a company when the mission can be irreversibly challenged by our government; we’ll talk about the origin story and how they plan to spin in the future. I want her to tell me what the world is getting wrong about telemedicine’s ability to answer the biggest health questions right now and where startups might fit into the solution going forward. Also, are they really creating a growth round? For the answers, be sure to tune in to the Equity episode wherever you get podcasts, and heck, why not get started now?
For 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 betting it can make even your local credit card crave some Netflix & Chill time. As always, you can support me by sending this newsletter to a friend or following me on twitter or my blog.
More layoffs in startupland
Unfortunately, there’s more where last week came from. Tech workers experienced another rough week of layoffs and hiring freezes, coming from startups like Section4, Latch and DataRobot. We’ve rounded up some of the known workforce reductions in one post.
See why it matters: The impact has been felt across all sectors, from education to security, as well as stages from a post-Series A startup to a newly SPAC business. To me, this signals how widespread this setback really is, regardless of what stage your company may be in. It’s not just cash-rich tech unicorns that are cutting staff; it’s early-stage startups too.
Your MVP is not a minimum, viable or a product
I was thinking about this headline from Haje Jan Kamps last week because it challenges one of those preconceived startup notions that everyone happily embraces without much struggle. Aka, my sweet spot (and my weakness). In this editorial, Kamps explains why MVP is “such a wrong name” and what to focus on.
See why it matters: The new Kamps framework and a series of questions you should ask your first product should make the complexities of MVPs a little more accessible. And I’ll finish with his kicker:
“I don’t have a better name suggestion for the MVP, just don’t fall into the trap of thinking of it as a product, being 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 an answer to your questions.”
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 believes access to credit should be free – so it found an atypical way to help people build credit.
See why it matters: Altros, which raised an $18 million Series A this week, helps people get credit through recurring payment methods like digital subscriptions to Netflix, Spotify and Hulu. It stands out because many banks targeting low-income and historically underprivileged people want to bypass credit scores altogether — while Altros wants to adjust access to an established system. I recommend reading Mary Ann’s story about the company’s origins, fundraising journey and the spotlight – and subscribing to her newsletter, The Interchange.
throughout the week
Seen on TechCrunch
Seen on TechCrunch+
Until next time,