The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that infertility plagues 30 million couples in India every year. Of these, nearly three million are actively seeking treatment. However, awareness about fertility issues, especially pertaining to male infertility, and knowledge about the various treatment options is highly limited.
Nilay Mehrotra, who hails from a family of healthcare professionals, was always keen on contributing to India’s healthcare ecosystem and in 2018 started researching areas where he could make a difference with an innovative healthtech offering.
“While speaking with medical experts, I found that there was too much fragmentation in the market, and many gaps in the service offerings related to fertility management and sexual dysfunction. I realised that gender bias, stigma, and taboos were limiting the fertility care space in India.” Nilay says.
That put him on a quest to create a gender-neutral, one-stop tech-based solution for sexual and reproductive wellness, and he joined hands with Dr SS Vasan to launch Bangalore-based Janani in June 2020.
The idea was singular: to bridge the existing gap by bringing together a gamut of tech-enabled fertility care options under a single umbrella.
How it works
Janani aims to make the process of infertility treatment and assisted fertilisation easier and more affordable, and is working to make the journey to conception more rewarding and hopeful for people.
“We assist patients through their fertility journey, from conception to a healthy pregnancy,” Nilay says.
A patient can register on the website and Janani connects with them within 24 hours. The person then needs to take a Fertility Assessment Test, done in the comfort of their homes. This includes semen tests for males and blood hormone tests for females. Based on detailed fertility assessment results, the person is assigned to an expert (an andrologist for males, a gynaecologist for females).
Janani also assigns a Fertility Advocate to each patient, a clinical psychologist who will support them throughout their fertility treatment journey. “We understand that infertility can be emotionally taxing, and mental wellness is directly related to sexual wellness. So we take that very seriously at Janani,” Nilay says.
Nilay says their experts encourage going for an Assisted Natural Pregnancy (ANP) before suggesting any interventions. This necessitates two to three months of monitoring and working closely with the ovulation cycle.
“For ANP, we only offer our in-house patented ferticeuticals, a range of proprietary fertility-nutraceuticals developed by Janani. They are a result of the extensive scientific R&D, spearheaded by Dr Vasan,” he says.
Dr Vasan says these products are formulated to target specific fertility-related problems. “They are highly customised, based on the diagnosis after the fertility assessment test. They are prescribed to aid the ANP process of the fertility treatment,” he says.
He adds that only if ANP fails they do suggest Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART). “If the male has fertility issues, this would mean Intrauterine Insemination (IUI); if the woman has the health problem, we go ahead with Invitro Fertilisation (IVF).”
Till the ANP stage, the process is completely virtual and done in the comfort of a patient’s home. The ART stage requires a patient to visit a partner lab for the ultrasound scan.
The founders aim to make the fertility treatment a seamless digital experience, and are also working on an app.
The expert team
Nilay, a graduate in automotive design from UPES, Dehradun, is a serial entrepreneur. An expert in IoT and the digital space, he has been the founding director and CEO of two IoT and AI companies – CharIoT and SenRa. A member of the IET IoT Panel, he has also been awarded by World Innovation Congress and was among the Top 50 CEOs for exemplary work in the digitisation of the manufacturing sector.
While working on his concept for over two years, a close friend suggested that he come to Bangalore and meet Dr Vasan, then the Chairman of Manipal Fertility. Dr Vasan is a world-renowned andrologist and was the former President of South Asian Society of Sexual Medicine.
“I approached Dr Vasan; he was enthusiastic and acted as a pivotal early advisor. Given his 40 years of experience, he also felt that digital transformation was the way forward. He saw potential in the idea and eventually came on board as co-founder,” Nilay says.
Janani has onboarded 25+ partner doctors, all specialists in particular fertility-related domains. The core team also includes three expert in-house doctors and 2 clinical counselors/ psychologists.
Market size and revenue
According to the Fortune Business Insight report, the global infertility market is valued at around $36 billion, with India having more than 30 percent of the market cap as of now. Sexual dysfunction and infertility across genders is more than a $50 billion market in India.
“However, the biggest challenge in this industry is the lack of understanding about fertility and limited awareness about infertility treatments. And infertility is still mostly associated with women alone. Hence, most infertility care centers are women-centric,” explains Nilay.
Janani aims to establish itself as an end-to-end service provider with innovative products such as the B2C fertility care brand Janani.life and the B2B AI solution for identification of the right embryo transfer, Janani.ai, under its belt.
The brand launched full-fledged operations in April 2021 in Bangalore on the occasion of World Health Day. As part of their launch, the Bengaluru-based startup offered free at-home fertility tests to the first 500 men (semen test) and 500 women (hormone-based infertility test) to register on its platform.
It claims that more than 140+ people reached out for the free fertility tests, within four days of the launch. “The free fertility tests are a part of Janani’s quest to spread awareness about non-gender-biased sexual wellness and fertility care in India,” Nilay says.
He adds that the startup is expecting at least Rs 14 crore ARR in the current financial year at the current growth rate.
“Janani has tied up with more than 30+ leading IVF centres in Bangalore as our preferred partners. As per the contract we can’t disclose the names now. We also work with quality hospitals, and have expert doctors on our team,” Nilay says.
Amid the sudden COVID-19 spike in Bangalore, Team Janani has taken all necessary precautions to keep their patients and experts safe. The founders also decided to postpone the at-home fertility assessment tests until the situation stabilises.
“We are now working on developing a new technology for semen collection and analysis that can be done at the homes of the patients, without the need for a technician. This would be a breakthrough in the industry,” Nilay says.
He adds that the healthtech startup has 80+ patients seeking advanced fertility treatment. “We are constantly in touch with our patients as our offering is primarily virtual,” he says.
Funding and growth plans
The founders aim to make Janani a global product. Currently operational only in Bangalore, it is planning to expand its services to Mumbai and Hyderabad in the next couple of months.
“We are also working simultaneously to launch Janani in other countries. We received great early feedback from channel partners across the world,” Nilay says.
The fertility tech startup is also attracting the attention of investors. In March 2021, it raised seed funding of Rs 8 crore in a round led by Venture Catalysts. Prominent investors such as Apollo Hospitals, Inflection Point Ventures, and Lets Venture also participated in the seed and angel rounds, along with existing investors including 9unicorn and AL.
Prior to this, in October 2020, it had raised Rs 1.5 crore pre-seed investment led by 9Unicorns. Other investors including Archana Priyadarshini and Sweta Rau led the round in AngelList, and angels like IVF expert Nandita Palshetkar, Astir VC partner Kishore Ganji also participated.
The founders believe that there may be many IVF clinics that are focused mostly on women, but Janani is a unique, full-stack digital offering for fertility care, the first of its kind in India.
“Fertility discussions are mostly limited to women. We hope to make fertility tests more comfortable and accessible to everyone,” Nilay says.