When your startup’s core mission is set to be overturned – TechCrunch

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Hey 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 to deal with a lot of red tape. Its main product, abortion pills, are banned or restricted in several states. Add the fact that Roe vs. Wade is about to be overturned, and the future of the world could collide with the startup’s mission to expand healthcare. Hey Jane greatly underscores the potential and promise of telehealth startups. But she also operates at the center of an over-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 repeal makes abortion care by 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 medication abortions. Most abortions performed in the US are done with medications, except that, according to her, a minority of people are informed 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 these reactions the next day. Next week, I plan to interview Freedman for TechCrunch’s Equity podcast and ask him how to build a company when our government can irreversibly challenge the mission; we will talk about the origin story and how they plan to pivot in the future. I want you to tell me where the world is wrong about telemedicine’s ability to answer the biggest questions in health right now, and where startups might fit into the solution in the future. Also, are they really planning a round of growth? For the answers, be sure to tune in to the Equity episode 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 their 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 forwarding this newsletter to a friend or following me on twitter or my blog.

More layoffs in startupland

Unfortunately, there is more where last week came from. Tech workers experienced another tough week of layoffs and hiring freezes, coming from startups like Section4, Latch and DataRobot. We rounded up some of the known workforce reductions in one post.

Here’s why it’s important: The impact was felt in industries ranging from education to security, as well as stages from a post-Series A start-up to a SPAC business recently. To me, that indicates how pervasive this pushback really is, regardless of what phase your company is in. It’s not just cash-rich tech unicorns that are cutting staff; they are also early-stage startups.

Laptop engulfed in flames

Image credits: PM images (Opens in a new window) / fake images

Your MVP is not minimal, viable or a product

I’ve been thinking about this Haje Jan Kamps headline for the past week because it challenges one of those startup preconceived notions that everyone else happily adopts without too much of a fight. Also known as my sweet spot (and my weakness). In this opinion piece, Kamps explains why MVP is “such a profound misnomer” and what to focus on instead.

Here’s why it’s important: The new Kamps framework and a series of questions you should be asking your first product should make the complexities of MVPs a bit more accessible. And I’ll finish with his kicker:

“I don’t have a suggestion for a better name for MVP, just don’t fall into the trap of thinking of it as a product, being viable, or necessarily being small, simple, or easy. Some MVPs are complex. However, the idea is to spend as little of your precious resources as possible to get your questions answered.”

Image of a large hand controlling a smaller puppet

A large hand controls a smaller toy figure or puppet.

Jay-Z’s Queen A

For the deal of the week that may have gone unnoticed, I choose Altro! Co-founded by Michael Broughton and Ayush Jain, this fintech startup believes access to credit should be free, so it found an unusual way to help people build credit.

Here’s why it’s important: Altros, which raised an $18 million Series A this week, helps people build credit through recurring forms of payment such as digital subscriptions to Netflix, Spotify and Hulu. It stands out because many low-income and historically disenfranchised banks want to bypass credit scores altogether, while Altros wants to modify access to an established system. I highly recommend reading Mary Ann’s story of the company’s origins, fundraising journey, and spotlight, and subscribing to her newsletter, The Interchange.

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Image credits: fake images

over week

Spotted on TechCrunch

Spotted on TechCrunch+

Until next time,


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