Founder Series: Michelle Stephens (Oath Care) on Building a New Model of Maternal Digital Health…
A-Level Capital Podcast — Episode 2
About Oath Care
Oath Care is a digital health company focused on the experience of fertility, pregnancy, and pediatrics. They curate safe and supportive stage-based groups of parents and combine these with world-class multidisciplinary clinical experts, delivering an entirely new kind of community-centric care.
The company initially began as a WhatsApp ‘mom group’ — a place for expectant and new moms to interact directly with specialists and support each other through the journey of motherhood. Today, they’ve raised a cumulative $9M from investors including OMERS Ventures, XYZ Ventures, General Catalyst, and Eros Resmini, former CMO of Discord. As our guest Dr. Michelle Stephens puts it, Oath delivers on what parents crave most: medical advice from experts who deeply know you, paired with anecdotal wisdom from fellow parents who are there or have been there.
Oath Care is now free to use on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. To learn more, visit www.oathcare.com.
About Dr. Michelle Stephens, Co-Founder @ Oath Care
Michelle is a clinician, entrepreneur, scientist, wife, and mom of two young boys. She has extensive pediatric clinical experience with a Master’s degree from Johns Hopkins in Nursing Science and a Ph.D. from UCSF studying early childhood stress physiology. She was inspired to pursue pediatrics when she was seven and her brother passed away from a congenital heart defect. Ever since, she’s been working to better understand and address adverse childhood experiences and their lifelong impacts on health. Years of research led her to realize that the single most well understood antidote to childhood stress is for children to have intimate relationships with their caregivers — hence, she set out to build Oath.
Episode Show Notes
In this episode, we speak about Oath Care’s mission, Michelle’s journey as a founder, and trends in maternal digital health. We also get a lot of career and life advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. Enjoy!
- 01:33 Michelle’s background and the inspiration behind Oath
- 04:39 Oath’s origin story (building alongside co-founder Camilla Hermann) and problem statement
- 07:00 Oath’s thesis (health is fundamentally social), creating community for the experience of fertility, pregnancy, and pediatrics that can directly impact health
- 07:56 Oath’s customer experience, pairing members with multidisciplinary clinical experts to achieve a more personalized approach to healthcare
- 09:29 Community engagement among Oath members
- 10:44 Oath’s WhatsApp ‘mom groups’, and the pivot from pediatrics practice to community product
- 13:18 How Oath is fostering community among its members
- 15:48 How Oath quantifies community impact through rapid testing and iteration
- 17:56 The challenges and learnings of building a product specifically for digital health
- 19:20 How Oath supports its specialists, from avoiding burnout to helping them grow their personal businesses
- 21:00 The long-term vision: a new model of healthcare rooted in community
- 21:57 How Oath uses in-app data to improve health outcomes and create more personalized care experiences
- 23:26 Funding trends in maternal digital health and Oath’s fundraising journey
- 25:11 Challenges that Michelle has faced as a startup founder
- 26:59 Michelle’s thoughts on the state of maternal healthcare, especially maternal mental health
Career development takeaways
- 29:29 Advice that Michelle would give her college self: you are enough
- 29:50 Why Michelle decided to start a company: research and academia would always be there, but this opportunity wouldn’t
- 30:24 How to find more meaning and purpose in your career: read Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, and evaluate whether you have an optimistic or pessimistic outlook about the future
- 31:09 Advice to aspiring entrepreneurs: don’t be a “whiteboard founder”. Entrepreneurship should not be forced — focus on chasing the problem.
- 32:56 Best piece of advice Michelle has ever received: it’s ok to disagree with those you love most.
We hope that you enjoy this conversation with Michelle! Stay tuned for another Investor Series episode next week with Hesam Motlagh, Investment Partner at Khosla Ventures and Chief of Staff to the legendary venture capitalist Vinod Khosla.
If you have questions about the episode or want to suggest topics for future episodes, please email Jemina Opman-Auge ([email protected]) and Anusha Rao ([email protected]). If you enjoyed the show, please subscribe to A-Level Capital Podcast on Spotify or Apple Podcasts (and leave us a rating!). We’re also on LinkedIn @A-Level Capital .