Meet Dandi, the Fertility Startup That Wants To Make Your IVF Journey Easier

Photo: Courtesy of Dandi
Fertility treatments, such as egg freezing and in vitro fertilization (IVF), are many things—hope-restoring, peace-of-mind-buying, and literal life-giving—but one thing they are not is easy. In fact, as any person who has undergone fertility treatments knows, they can be extraordinarily challenging, both physically and emotionally. And while fertility clinics are incredible facilities that perform medical miracles, they don’t often have the bandwidth to nurture patients through these tough processes.

Enter Dandi, a new company focused on transforming the fertility experience by providing women with the additional support they so desperately need.

Launching today, Dandi offers products and services designed to complement the care fertility patients receive in-clinic. On the product side, the company has created the IVF Care Kit, which includes a suite of products designed to ease the process of self-administering IVF injections. On the services side, Dandi is offering live 1:1 support from fertility nurses to help patients through the injection process in real time, as well as 1:1 expert fertility consultations for women in any stage of their family planning journey.

The Dandi story: A personal mission

Dandi is the brainchild of Chief Clinical Officer Leyla Bilali, RN, and CEO Jake Kent. Bilali, a fertility nurse, first identified the need Dandi would eventually seek to fulfill while working at one of New York City’s top fertility clinics. Such clinics do their best, she says, but patient volume is so high—she’d see up to 80 patients a day—that it’s impossible for nurses to offer the kind of support people need during treatment.

Part of the problem, says Kent, is that the involvement of private equity in the fertility space has transformed clinics from strictly medical spaces into business ventures focused on profitability. As a result, patient volume has increased, leading to less personalized care. “And this trend is not slowing down,” he says. This ever-widening gap inspired Bilali to open her own fertility concierge business in 2017, Fertility Together, which offered services such as fertility consultations and 1:1 help with IVF medication administration.

Through one of her clients, Bilali then met Kent—who previously ran WeLive for WeWork—but who had since begun working on products designed to help people through the painful process of IVF injections. He’d become engaged in these efforts after witnessing a family member endure the challenges of fertility treatments. “She was already physically, mentally, and emotionally distressed, and on top of that she was totally freaked out by starting the injections,” he says. “I was blown away by what the struggle looked like behind closed doors—so much so that I thought she had to be an outlier.”

When Kent began reaching out to friends, peers, and coworkers who were also going through fertility treatments, he quickly realized his family member's experience was, in fact, the norm. “I spent nearly a full year listening and getting educated on what the key pain points were,” he says. “Ultimately, what I heard was that the IVF injection protocols were far and away the most distressing part of the experience.”

He subsequently became passionate about developing physical products that could ease this major pain point. “Then I met up with Leyla and fell in love with everything she was doing from a care perspective,” he says. “Together we found this beautiful intersection between physical products designed to help women feel like there was something purpose-built for this experience and virtual care that can support patients through every step of the journey.”

Dandi's core offerings

  • The IVF Care Kit: Intended to make the process of fertility injections easier and more comfortable, this kit includes a compression belt designed to help guide the injection process, a cooling pad insert designed to help numb the injection site, a heating pad insert designed to provide hands-free heat so as to soothe the site of the injection or ease cramping, a massage ball designed specifically to help with tender spots and progesterone knots, and shot targets, which can help the injector easily identify the desired injection site. The kit costs $185.
  • Live injection support: Dandi offers real-time virtual care from fertility nurses that can help with any stage of the injection process, from unboxing your meds (and learning which needles and syringes go with which drugs) to administering the shots. Each session costs $125.
  • Fertility consultations: These consultations are meant to complement—but not replace—fertility clinic care at any stage of a woman’s fertility journey. This includes women who have not yet visited a fertility clinic but are starting to think about fertility preservation, people looking for a referral to a fertility clinic, and women who are in the process of freezing their eggs or undergoing IUI or IVF and just need more support than their fertility clinic can offer. Each session costs $135.
  • Community: Dandi also includes a community element, which has been in beta testing on WhatsApp prior to launch and is moderated by Bilali and her nurses. “I think it’s beautiful when people who have been through fertility treatments want to pay it forward [with advice], but the issue becomes when it’s no longer medically sound,” she says. “It gets tricky on medical forums, and that’s why we wanted to foster a community group that’s peer-to-peer, but also includes fertility-trained nurses making sure everything is medically credible.”

Overall, Dandi's mission is to support people through the fertility treatment phases of family planning, and on ultimately de-stigmatizing fertility treatments and the struggles associated with them by bringing the category out of the shadows.

“We’ve heard from so many patients saying, ‘This is already the hardest thing I’m ever going to have to go through—why does it also have to be so isolating? I feel like there’s nothing out there that recognizes the struggle I’m going through’,” says Kent. “I can't think of any experience where a safe space to feel seen and heard is more greatly needed, and we hope to have created that space.”

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