New market prognostications never pan out, with the corollary being that new markets appear out of the blue. When a new market does appear it produces a universal ‘Ah ha!” moment in its audience.
Over the past two weeks, I’ve stumbled across the subject of egg freezing, once at an Harvaerd Business School event, and then on the front page of Wall Street Journal. Ah ha!
There is nothing more powerful than a woman’s urge to have a baby. Single women and couples routinely spend small fortunes, and enormous effort in their quest to have a child. Marriages have been both created and destroyed over this issue a thousand-fold.
If the right man fails to appear on her doorstep, women are increasingly bearing children apart from marriage. Women are now freezing their eggs, often at a younger age, in order to preserve their ability to have children. Sarah Elizabeth Richards has written an important new book Motherhood Rescheduled: The New Frontier of Egg Freezing and the Women Who Tried It. Christina Jones, a co-founder of software company, Trilogy has now founded Extend Fertility, to provide advice and services to women wishing to freeze their eggs.
In a little noticed announcement this past fall, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine removed the experimental status of egg freezing, citing that there is now little difference between success rates using frozen rather than fresh eggs. We believe the market for products and services relating to egg freezing is on the cusp of exploding. Women entering the professions, and delaying childbearing, are motivated and more knowledgeable on the topic. Just as important, they have the necessary resources to embark upon the process of freezing their own eggs, in anticipation of starting a family down the road. An insurance premium, if you may, on the ability to give birth to a healthy baby.
The risk of delaying child bearing is both a male and female issue. We are now know that one factor in the recent high rates of autism is the age of the father. As the impact of waiting to have children, for both men and women, are better known, the services for freezing both eggs and semen will rise.
Potential new markets are advisory services, clinics, targeted pharmaceuticals, such as fertility drugs, and financing of the procedures. This is bound to be a tricky market, with legal, bureaucratic, health and insurance implications. Portions of it will be a more natural for large corporations, and portions for smaller and entrepreneurial companies. There will be roll-ups and strategic hole-filling. If you have the opportunity to invest in a company in this area, think carefully through the competitive landscape, alternatives and strategies, and then Act.