Dr. Jennifer Hintzsche, Ph.D. - Great Companies Women Entrepreneur Award Winner 2023
Name: Dr. Jennifer Hintzsche, Ph.D.
Business Name: PherDal Fertility Science, Inc.
Location: Dixon, Illinois, USA
Establishment (Year): 2022
Category/Industry: Manufacturing and Retail
Profession/ Specialty: Medical Device Manufacturer & Supplier
Social Media: LinkedIn
PherDal is developing the first FDA-cleared, sterile, patented, assisted reproduction kit as an affordable, over-the-counter fertility treatment. After 16 months of unexplained infertility, their founder, Dr. Jennifer Hintzsche, used her Ph.D. in Biology and her husband’s mechanical engineering skills to invent a medical device that conceived their now 4-year-old daughter in just the second month of use. PherDal’s 200 proof-of-concept kits sold out in 90 days, with 34 reported pregnancies. A successful crowdfunding equity campaign further validated the company’s impressive growth and potential, securing over $630K for FDA clearance testing.
In 2023, CEO Dr. Jennifer Hintzsche was named an emerging innovator at the Life Science Intelligence USA conference, one of LEK’s 4 FemTech Leaders to watch, and was a finalist at the prestigious SXSW Pitch competition. With a dedicated team of medical, legal, and health tech experts, PherDal Fertility Science is revolutionizing reproductive medicine by introducing the first and only sterile, FDA-cleared, over-the-counter infertility treatment offered without a prescription in 2023.
Unique Selling Proposition or Competitive Advantage:
The PherDal kit is a revolutionary fertility treatment that is undergoing FDA clearance to become the first over-the-counter assisted reproduction kit. Their patented sterile technology, specifically designed for intracervical insemination (ICI), sets us apart from other treatments. Currently, the first line of infertility treatment is typically an invasive and uninsured intrauterine insemination (IUI) procedure, which involves placing washed sperm into the uterus using a sterile device. However, their PherDal kit offers an alternative option by allowing people to try ICI at home, with the same sterile technology as the clinic, but before resorting to expensive and invasive IUI treatments. their kit, which is patented for its sterile technology just like the clinic, places sperm just 1 inch lower at the cervical opening. It has been proven to be just as successful as IUI and can be done in the comfort of your own home. No other insemination kit on the market is sterile or has received FDA clearance for at-home use. By offering the first safe, at-home, fertility treatment, PherDal is ensuring reproductive health equity for all.
Challenges Faced During the Journey:
She was kicked out of graduate school a year into her master's degree and told she wasn't smart enough to be there. Instead of walking away, she switched her focus and leaned into an emerging field that combines Biology & Computer Science, Bioinformatics. She received the first-ever doctoral degree in Bioinformatics from Northern Illinois University in 2014, following a Master's Degree in the same field. While at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, she developed innovative software pipelines to analyze genomic data from thousands of melanoma tumors, leading to numerous grants, papers, and clinical trials on novel therapeutic targets. As the author of more than two dozen peer-reviewed scientific articles, her clinical expertise has been cited over 600 times in respected science journals like Nature. She was told that her skills wouldn't transfer into the 'real world' and that academia was her best option for a career. Unfazed by being doubted again, she left academia in 2019 to become a software analyst and developer in healthcare. Within four years, she rose to leadership positions at two pharmaceutical SaaS companies, most recently as Director of Product. In this role, she released three different apps within nine months that helped the business scale beyond 15M+ in revenue. In 2017, I was told that she was infertile. After 16 months of struggling to conceive, she was diagnosed with unexplained infertility and told expensive, uninsured fertility treatments were her only chance at conceiving. She refused to accept the diagnosis of "infertile." She took matters into her own hands, delving into the scientific literature and inventing the patented medical device, The PherDal Kit, with her mechanical engineer husband, Ryan. They used the kit to conceive their daughter in the second month of use. She founded PherDal (pronounced fertile but spelled with a Ph.D.) to provide others with an affordable and safe fertility option. The proof-of-concept kits she made sold out in 90 days, with 34 reported pregnancies. In 2022, having gained so much initial traction, they worked with the FDA to define how their new invention could be legally sold over the counter to millions struggling with infertility. She was told FDA clearance would cost around 5 million and knew only 2% of VC funding goes to women. So, instead,she turned to crowdfunding and started a grassroots campaign that now includes 433 investors who have invested over $630K into PherDal. By strategically using their funding, far less than what was projected they would need, they have now paid for all of our FDA clearance testing and initial inventory. She is grateful and proud to lead a team of medical, legal, and health tech experts to bring the first and only sterile, FDA-cleared, over-the-counter assisted reproduction kit to the market in Q4 of 2023.
Advice for Women Entrepreneurs:
A lot of people will tell you that you can't, but do it anyway. Fall, trip, get back up. Fall again, rise again. Only you truly know what success means to you so go get it.