“When I was trying to get pregnant, I felt like there were always babies in my face,” says Silicon Valley alum Halle Tecco, 35. Every pregnancy test or fertility tracker featured some cherubic newborn—or packaging dosed in nauseating hues of baby blue or pink, she recalls.
“I had a breakdown in Target because it was almost triggering to me at some point,” she recounts, adding, “at the end of the day, I thought: I’m still a human and this is still a process that I’m going through.”
That kind of sensitivity—or perhaps a more emotionally intelligent sensibility—is precisely what Tecco hopes to offer with Natalist, a new startup selling bundles of sleek and educational conception essentials. Starting this week, the company will discreetly deliver the boxes (and individually purchased products) to one’s door. As founder and CEO, Tecco envisions arming consumers with everything they need before starting a family, including plenty of TLC. Consider it the self-care of conceiving.
The monthly “Get Pregnant Bundle” subscription box ($90 for a one-time purchase; $81 monthly) changes as one progresses through the fertility journey and continues on until birth. (Customers can cancel at any time.) The first month, for example, includes an illustrated Conception 101 guidebook complete with the basics of human reproduction and practical tips on getting pregnant.
In addition, buyers can expect a range of items ranging from ovulation tests to prenatal vitamins, the majority of which physicians recommend during a preconception visit. The cost is on par with drugstore prices, if not less.
“Everything you need is right here in one box versus having to like frantically look through drugstore aisles,” says Tecco, noting that layering items in an enjoyable format is something “the market really wants.”
And she should know: The entrepreneur previously started and ran early-stage digital health venture fund Rock Health, and she invested in a number of female-founded health companies, including EverlyWell, KindBody, and Tia. She currently serves as an adviser to the Harvard Medical School Department of Biomedical Informatics.
When Tecco decided to have a child, she discovered a difficult shopping experience that left her with more questions than answers. What items did she really need? Which ones were bogus and which were recommended by doctors? And why was everything scattered across different stores or online retailers?
Not to mention, the entire clinical process made her feel disconnected from her body.
“It was eye-opening as a patient to see how the entire process could be updated for millennial women,” Tecco tells Fast Company.
Doing it herself
Tecco immediately saw an opportunity for a direct-to-consumer company to simplify the process, albeit in a thoughtful and authentic manner. Last summer, the new mom quickly sought out a CEO, whom she envisioned funding through this new business pursuit. But after interviewing the second candidate, Tecco had a change of heart.
“I went home and told my husband, ‘I’m going to be the most annoying investor because I have such a strong vision for what this company could be,'” says Tecco. “I think I would drive them crazy. I think I just need to do it myself.”
Tecco quickly assembled a team of fellow moms—mostly doctors and scientists—who shared her passion for redesigned fertility essentials coupled with evidence-based education. In many ways, Natalist resembles other startups streamlining transformative stages of a woman’s life: Fridababy sells postpartum recovery products for new moms; Blume is the first cohesive line of self-care products for girls navigating puberty; while Genneve is a complete telehealth and product line for women going through menopause.
While Natalist isn’t bringing new conception products to the market, it did redesign them with a modern feminine look. The pregnancy test is sleek, compact, eco-friendly, and in a warm color palette. Such improvements stem, in part, from a Natalist survey of 1,200 women with planned pregnancies.
“If you look at the pregnancy and ovulation tests that are on the market today, they don’t feel like they belong on your bed stand or in your bathroom next to beauty products,” says Tecco.
The collection features more personal—and less clinical—language along with elegant illustrated instructions. There’s none of the medical jargon typically found on a traditional pregnancy test box.
“We’re speaking very directly, not dumbing things down,” stresses Tecco. At the same time, the brand straddles the thin line between feeling friendly and downright Pollyanna-ish. “We don’t want to pander to anyone. We want people to respect the science and medicine behind what we’re doing.”
Natalist endeavors to become a key resource and community support for women pursuing parenthood. Of the women surveyed, only 36 percent said they were confident of their ovulation date.
The website features materials on conception and pregnancy from both a medical and lifestyle perspective. On-staff doctors quash junk information from actual science-backed studies, with articles ranging from miscarriage grief to debunking sex-position myths. The team also shares their own personal pregnancy journeys on social media and a private Facebook group. The goal is to be approachable while projecting authority.
This approach, says Tecco, is what will ultimately set them apart from more dated mainstream brands. “If you look at First Response, they’re not even on Instagram,” she notes. “They don’t have a deep connection with customers or an open communication channel.”
Over the long term, Natalist envisions physicians and clinics suggesting boxes to patients. Currently, the company is in talks with multiple employers interested in subsidizing subscriptions: They’re looking to help their employees get pregnant naturally, thereby bringing down the cost of fertility treatments.
As for Tecco, she willingly admits her new role demands far more hours than her past position. (“I cannot believe how much harder it is,” she laughs. “VCs have it really, really good.”) But the newly minted founder is excited to bring her vision of empowerment to the pregnancy sector. Just don’t expect any baby clichés or pastel pink.
“Our aesthetic is about celebrating you and your journey,” she reiterates, “so yeah, we won’t post any baby pictures.”