Giving equal chances for everyone to become a parent | Interview with Jenny Saft, Co-founder, Apryl #StartUps - The Entrepreneurial Way with A.I.


Monday, November 21, 2022

Giving equal chances for everyone to become a parent | Interview with Jenny Saft, Co-founder, Apryl #StartUps


According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 15% of reproductive-aged couples worldwide struggle with infertility. An international study on women’s fertility showed that women lose 90% of the eggs in their ovaries before the age of 30. However, infertility is not exclusively a “female problem” – in the same WHO report earlier mentioned, estimates suggest that between 48 million couples and 186 million individuals live with infertility globally.

Infertility affects both men and women and is increasingly seen as a global issue affecting everyone, regardless of gender, as more and more people are having kids later in life. For same-sex couples wanting to start a family, fertility treatments or adoption are increasingly becoming the only viable options.

It is this increasingly worrying infertility trend that Apryl, an employee fertility benefits platform, based in Berlin, is tackling. Founded in 2019 and originally called Oviavo, it specifically focused on supporting people through egg freezing but is now offering everything – from egg freezing to adoption and IVF, acting as a broker and expert friend between clinics and employees seeking treatment. Apryl’s goal is to enable companies to support employees on their path to parenthood – regardless of their age, gender, sexual orientation, relationship status or financial means.

We spoke with Jenny Saft, Apryl’s Co-founder about how Apryl came about and the milestones and challenges since Apryl’s founding in 2019, their recent €4.1 million seed funding led by Breega, the barriers to fertility treatments in Europe, the current state of “fertility compensation” in Europe and how it compares to that of the US and many more.

How did you get started with Apryl? Did it come from personal experience with fertility treatment?

I founded Apryl after my own egg-freezing experience fell short. I’d been working in San Francisco, where egg freezing was super normalised, and peoples’ employers often covered the costs. I moved back to Berlin and decided to explore egg freezing myself, but fertility benefits weren’t really a ‘thing’ so I had to do all my own research and arrange the process myself. I didn’t really know what I was looking for or what to expect.  I ended up picking the clinic closest to my office for convenience, and just went for it. It was an odd process: undergoing any kind of fertility treatment is incredibly intimate and can be emotional, yet I received little extra guidance or pastoral support from my clinic, which I found surprising. The process also cost me thousands.

I had the idea of creating a new way for people to access fertility treatments that could not only save them money but would also ensure they had access to the kind of support I missed out on during my egg-freezing journey. 

Apryl is a fertility benefits platform working to help modern employers offer inclusive fertility benefits to every employee. We offer everything from egg freezing to adoption and IVF, acting as a broker and expert friend between clinics and employees seeking treatment. Not only does Apryl make treatments more accessible and affordable for people, but we offer expert support, guidance and advice that is necessary to help people make empowered and informed fertility decisions.

Since Apryl’s inception in 2019, what have been the most significant milestones and challenges?

One of our most significant milestones involved rebranding our company and extending our available services to span the entire fertility ecosystem. When we first began our founding journey, we were called Oviavo, and we specifically focused on supporting people through egg freezing. But as we grew and spoke to clients and employees about what they wanted, we decided to expand our offering. And we felt that our brand needed to reflect this change, which is when we came up with Apryl. Whilst taking the decision to rebrand was initially a challenge, it was one that was necessary for our company to be able to begin its next chapter, and we’re really happy we did it. 

Another big milestone was raising €4.1 million in a seed round led by Breega and joined by some brilliant VCs, including Atlantic Labs, Myelin VC, and Westtech Ventures. Since we’re currently based in Berlin, the capital has helped us expand our presence in the UK and across the continent, which is an exciting next step in becoming more prominent in the wider European fertility scene. 

What do you see as the top three barriers to fertility care/treatment in Europe? 

Firstly, there’s a real lack of transparency surrounding fertility treatments and what they entail. Lots of people (including me) rely on desktop research when initially seeking treatment and trying to understand their options. It can be hard to know which sources to trust, which clinic is best, or where to start. 

Cost is also a huge barrier. People can end up spending thousands of pounds on consultations, tests, treatments, and add-ons, and there’s never a guarantee that a treatment will work. Often, people will get themselves into debt to pay for fertility treatments. A big problem is that there’s also a lack of transparency surrounding costs, meaning people don’t know how much they will spend before they start. 

The final huge barrier is inclusivity. In the UK, NHS fertility treatment is famously a ‘postcode lottery’. And where you live in Europe will determine which fertility treatments you can access. Certain fertility treatments are still illegal in a handful of countries, and it’s even harder to access fertility care as a single woman or same-sex couple. In some European countries, fertility treatment for same-sex couples is explicitly illegal. This is discriminatory and should not be the case.

Apryl is working to remove all of these barriers. Our platform enables people to access unlimited consultations with fertility experts to discuss their options and find the best clinic for them, to create transparency and ensure they’re not caught out by unexpected costs or procedures. We also help people afford fertility treatment, by putting the onus on employers to help fund employees’ care. Finally, we help people access the entire spectrum of fertility treatments, from egg and sperm freezing through to surrogacy and adoption, so that everyone, regardless of gender, relationship status or sexual orientation, can access the care they need.

Some fertility benefits platforms focus solely on women. Apryl, on the other hand, supports all employees seeking to become parents regardless of status or sexual preference – whether they are a couple, single, transgender, hetero or homosexual.

Tell us more about this focus on inclusivity.

At Apryl, we recognise that families come in many shapes and forms. And in many countries, it’s often single women and LGBTQI+ people who will find it most difficult to access fertility care. This is why offering the widest possible range of family forming and fertility benefits was really important to me, as we want to make a difference and make the sector more inclusive. 

Infertility doesn’t know genders or sexualities, and I believe every single person has the right to start a family should they want to.

Because not being able to start the family you dream of is one of the most earth-shattering things that can happen to you. So it’s incredibly important to me that we widen access to treatment for everyone and make it as easy as possible for everyone to access open, honest and transparent fertility support. It’s what we’ve built our business on.

Aside from the inclusive nature of the platform, what sets Apryl apart from other fertility benefits platforms?

Most fertility benefits companies are confined to offering their services in just one country. However, at Apryl, we’re proud to offer fertility benefits to companies in countries across Europe. Even though we were founded in Berlin, we work with organisations spanning more than 30 different countries – from Israel, to the UK, to Portugal. This has allowed us to build a detailed and unique understanding of the fertility landscape across Europe (including legislative differences and the differences in how clinics operate), meaning that we can give the best advice and guidance to our clients.

Our platform also offers the entire spectrum of fertility treatments to make fertility benefits inclusive for everyone. We don’t just stop at IVF and egg freezing – we offer support with surrogacy, adoption and other family forming services, which makes us unique in comparison to other platforms. 

“Fertility compensation” is rapidly becoming common in the US as part of social impact incentives or benefits for employees. Do you see this happening in Europe? 

Fertility compensation is becoming increasingly popular in Europe, but it’s still got a long way to go. However, as we’re seeing in conversations with the companies we’re working with, lots of progressive organisations are open to change. 

A key difference between the UK and the US is that people are used to paying for healthcare in the US through insurance, and often health insurance will come through employers. So it feels natural to add fertility to this benefits package. But in the UK and other European countries where we have free national healthcare, ‘selling’ private treatment is a foreign concept and only a few big companies will offer private healthcare to staff. This is something we need to overcome culturally in order to normalise fertility compensation at work.

It’s also true that national legislation and guidelines on assisted reproduction vary within each European country (for example, egg donation is still illegal in Germany), which means it can be harder for companies in some countries to offer an inclusive spectrum of fertility benefits to their employees. It’s an area fraught with legal and social barriers. In many countries we need legal, cultural and institutional changes to happen in order for everyone to have equal reproductive rights. Then, perhaps we will see fertility compensation hit the mainstream.

I also think we need to start seeing fertility benefits as a necessary part of health and benefits schemes at work, rather than an optional ‘add on’. Reproductive health is still health and infertility can have an untold effect on peoples’ lives, relationships and mental health. More work needs to be done to normalise fertility compensation as a concept.   

What is next for Apryl? 

We’ve got a brilliant core team in Berlin, and we’re currently looking to cement our presence in the UK. Our mission is to transform fertility benefits from being optional benefits to legitimate necessities within every organisation – and by doing this, we hope to help millions of people access the fertility support they need.


November 21, 2022 at 11:27AM by (Maricel Sanchez), Khareem Sudlow