Founder in 5: Béa Fertility CEO on pitching a ‘taboo’ product

Bea Fertility founder

Tess Cosad is the co-founder and CEO of Béa Fertility, a startup that provides at-home fertility treatment and ovulation tracking services.

Founded in 2020, the London-based startup is aiming to increase access to effective and affordable fertility treatments by offering an alternative to high-cost fertility clinics.

Béa Fertility has raised nearly £1m in funding for its non-invasive treatment option, with £800,000 of that coming in a seed round last year.

Prior to starting Béa Fertility, Cosad founded a femtech brand called Hers By Design, as well as a B2B marketing agency called Emberson Ventures.

In this week’s Founder in Five Q&A, Cosad shares her funding advice for things considered “taboo” by investors, reveals her most important early hires and explains why ageing is a sector ripe for disruption.

1. What funding advice would you give to a first-time founder?

Tess Cosad: Learn to spot the investors that ‘get’ what you’re doing. This is particularly important when you’re pitching something considered ‘taboo’ or high risk, such as a medical device or femtech product. Ultimately, not every investor is going to understand what you’re doing or be comfortable joining you on your journey. But you must learn to accept that not all investors will want to write you a cheque.

You want to find the people who engage with the tricky questions and demonstrate their understanding of the problem you’re trying to solve. I feel very fortunate that our investors bring more than just money: they’re supportive, they offer advice, networks, experience and belief in our vision.

2. Who’s a leader you admire in your industry?

TC: I greatly admire many of the women who have started successful companies in women’s health. Kate Ryder (Maven) and Tania Boler (Elvie) are two who come to mind, simply because of their quiet, steady leadership as they build incredibly powerful brands and start movements in areas of healthcare that desperately needed change.

I also really admire all of the founders at the early stages of the journey – any founder who starts a company to drive change in women’s health and fertility (and in any industry) has courage, grit and determination, and those are qualities that I admire deeply.

3. What was the most important early hire you made?

TC: George, my co-founder and chief product officer and Tiia, my first hire and UX designer. I brought them within a few days of each other. They were the first to join the team, and they changed everything. Watching them work together as a pair and build a brilliant product has been incredible. They’re both capable of wearing an insane number of hats, and they learn fast. It’s been humbling for me, and every day I realise that Béa wouldn’t be where we are today without them.

Whoever you hire, the golden rule I followed was this: the earlier you are in the journey, the more generalist your hires should be. When you have less than five people on a team, everyone will need to pitch in on everything, and you’ll need people who can adapt and learn fast.

4. What’s a fact about yourself that people may find surprising?

TC: In 2019, when I was 27, I went to live in Saudi Arabia as the first female instructor for the Growth Velocity Academy to teach one of their digital marketing bootcamps. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, and there were moments throughout where I doubted myself significantly.

But it was also one of the most transformative and fulfilling experiences of my career. Meeting the women creating companies in Saudi, being role models and trying to drive change was so inspirational for me.

5. Excluding your own, what’s a sector that you consider ripe for disruption?

TC: Ageing – we’re living in a time where many countries have a birth rate below replacement level. It’s going to create huge problems. People are living longer than ever before, and the way we treat our older citizens in many countries is completely broken.

I think we need to rethink how society and social structures grow and change for older populations.

Founder in Five – a UKTN Q&A series with the entrepreneurs behind the UK’s innovative startups, scaleups, unicorns and tech companies – is published every Friday.