4 minutes

From the Ivory Tower to a Scrappy Startup: Natalist Co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Liz Kane on Bringing a New Fertility Brand to Market

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Natalist Post

Q: Tell us a bit about Natalist. 

A: Natalist is a woman-founded startup seeking to change the path to parenthood. We make products and resources inspired by beauty and backed by science. Our flagship product is the Get Pregnant Bundle, which contains everything you need to start trying to conceive: prenatal vitamins, ovulation tests, pregnancy tests and an evidence-backed book written by doctors and scientists that explains the basics of conception and will walk you through the whole process. 

As women, we’re taught from an early age that getting pregnant is absurdly easy. When the time comes that we are intentionally ready to start a family, the process can be much harder than we anticipated. Currently, there is a big knowledge gap: only 1 in 6 women seek preconception care (CDC), only 34% of women take a prenatal vitamin before they get pregnant (March of Dimes) and as much as 70% of women don’t understand ovulation timing and the fertile window (study in Birth, 2016), the narrow period each month when a woman can conceive. 

Q: What brought you to Natalist?

A: When I was trying to get pregnant the first time around the whole process went relatively smoothly. The second time, I haven’t been as lucky. Having gone through the fertility rollercoaster and IVF myself, I had lots of ideas about how I could change the experience for the better. I believe my background as a scientist lets me look at the process through a unique lens and bring a fresh perspective.

Trying to conceive is such a vulnerable time in one’s life, and there are so many products out there that aim to take advantage of customers with false promises and quick fixes. I have the scientific background to see through that. But unfortunately, most people don’t. I’m thrilled that we get to build a library of products and resources that can help people at this critical juncture in their life, and that we have the data to prove it.

Q: You have a background in science. What are 1-2 key lessons you learned in the lab that have proved helpful in your current role?

A: A research laboratory is more similar to the start-up environment than I initially expected. In science, you are expected to throw yourself wholeheartedly at a problem and look at it from unique and distinct viewpoints, even if you are unsure of the outcome and the path forward isn’t entirely clear. You also need to be incredibly resourceful and acquire new skills rapidly as funding can be tight and you don’t always have the resources to outsource a problem. Science trains you to think analytically and logically to dissect large and difficult problems, which serves you well in a business environment. 

Q: What does a day-in-the-life look like for you at Natalist?

A: We pride ourselves on being a scrappy team, so you never know what each day will bring. Right now, I’m focusing on new product development, which entails combing the scientific literature and speaking with experts in the field to ensure that new products have the backing of the scientific and medical establishment. I’m also meeting with manufacturing partners and working with our design team to try to make our new ideas come to life. Lastly, I’m reviewing our social media and educational content for scientific accuracy and pulling in other experts when necessary.

Q: What makes Charleston a great place to start and grow a business?

A: Charleston ranked as the #1 moving destination in the US for 2019 (Realtor.com) and #1 for small business growth in 2018 (Yelp). Both Halle and I independently relocated to Charleston before Natalist because of how much we love this town. Charleston is such a wonderful place to live and the rest of the world is catching on. We’ve had great luck both hiring locally and recruiting great employees to the area. Charleston attracts people who are creative and love the outdoors. That will continue as Charleston grows as an economic force. 

Q: Where do you see the company in 5 to 10 years?

A: We’ve just gotten our first few positive pregnancy tests from customers, which has been so exciting. We hope in 5 to 10 years we can fill a whole elementary school with all of Natalist babies we have helped usher into the world!