Top investors back breastfeeding and early parenthood support app in seed funding round

April 8, 2022

Bristol-based breastfeeding and early parenthood support innovator LatchAid is poised for further growth after closing its seed funding round, taking its total investments to £1m and bringing in some high-profile backers.

The fundraising round was led by super angel and former Google UK & Ireland managing director Dan Cobley and also included ‘Queen of British VC’ Eileen Burbidge and Priya Oberoi, founding partner of the female-centred healthcare fund Goddess Gaia Ventures, among others. 

LatchAid, a member of the SETsquared Bristol incubator, has also raised £510,000 through an Innovate UK innovation loan as testament to its ground-breaking technology and user traction.

LatchAid was founded by CEO Dr Chen Mao Davies, pictured with Dan Cobley, an Oscar and BAFTA award-winning R&D specialist who previously worked on the visual effects of Hollywood blockbuster films Gravity and Blade Runner 2049.

Chen’s own struggles with breastfeeding compelled her to start LatchAid in order to revolutionise breastfeeding and early parenthood support with equal parts technological innovation and empathy.

The company’s total funding to date has comprised a mix of innovation loans, convertible loan note from the KQ Labs accelerator programme, and equity investment from strategic business angel investors.

Funds from this round will be used to augment the technical and commercial teams and to expand the company’s B2B offerings to healthcare organisations as a licensed prescription app, to corporates for employee benefit schemes, and to insurance companies for health insurance packages. It also aims to expand its B2C market reach to expectant and new mothers.

Product R&D goals include developing sentiment AI capability, expanding core support to a 1,000-day cycle, enhancing 3D interactive components, and cross-platform development for iOS and Android.

LatchAid currently offers 24/7 digital support to users in 84 countries and is available to download on the App Store.

It has recently completed a successful pilot with 12 NHS trusts and the HCRG Group across the UK, demonstrating positive health economic benefits.

Chen said: “As a Chinese female solo entrepreneur running a women’s health business, it’s not easy to find investment. But if you can find the right investors, great ideas and a great team will ultimately attract funding.”

As well as positive health outcomes for mothers and babies, breastfeeding offers social, economic, and environmental benefits.

However, the UK has the lowest breastfeeding rate in the world. Some 90% of women give up breastfeeding before they want to because of pain, health issues, and/or lack of support. Unsuccessful breastfeeding is estimated to cost society $1bn a day globally.

LatchAid’s pioneering app utilises cutting-edge 3D interactive technology to help mothers learn breastfeeding skills intuitively from 3D avatars; virtual peer support groups to connect mothers to a close-knit peer-to-peer support network; and an AI-powered virtual supporter chatbot, leveraging empathetic AI and 1-1 live expert chats, all to provide users with personalised expertise and companionship, 24/7.

The company has already garnered numerous awards and funding competitions, including a Covid-19 Fast Response grant, a Sustainable Innovation Fund grant, the prestigious Women in Innovation Award from Innovate UK, grants from NHS Improvement, UnLtd, the EU and the Health Foundation.

Dan Cobley, who is also co-founder of ClearScore and Salary Finance, said: “Chen has already achieved so much with such limited resources.

“I am convinced that, with this funding and the support of such a great group of investors, LatchAid will grow to be an amazing force for good in this critical health area, first in the UK and then across the world.”

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