Fifi Kara and Dr. Lailah Kara-Newton are sisters who co-founded Aster, a company dedicated to transforming prenatal and postnatal care across the United States. Dr. Kara-Newton helped found Aster in 2023 following her experience with undiagnosed preeclampsia during her son’s birth.
She created the business as a platform dedicated to providing safe and straightforward maternal health care, which includes communication, simple access, and reliable clinical supervision. The company has previously collaborated with clinics in various states and is known for its regular monitoring, which includes the collection of critical health metrics such as blood pressure, heart rate, blood glucose, and urine tests.
According to FemTech Insider, the pair recently raised $2.4 million in a seed funding round led by Cake Ventures. Other participants included Zeal Capital Partners (BBFI), Cornerstone, Octopus Ventures (FCF), Blueprint, Everywhere Ventures, and a few angel investors.
Monique Woodard, founder of Cake Ventures, expressed, “The state of maternal health in the United States is disturbing and urgent. With the highest maternal mortality rate among high-income countries, it is unacceptable that pregnancy for American women can still feel like a dangerous undertaking, and the data shows that the situation is even worse for Black women. The Aster team are the right founders to tackle this important problem through technology and personal experience.”
The new funding will also allow Aster to scale operations beyond the pilot phase, hire key operational roles, and provide nationwide availability, according to Axios.
In the beginning, the organization concentrated on nurse practitioners, midwives, and birth centers. The private pilot period featured practitioners such as Oak Village Midwifery in California, The Birthing Place in New York, and Strength in You OB/GYN in Maryland.
But in the upcoming months, the business will broaden its scope to include OB/GYN providers. By the end of 2024, the company hopes to have over 100 providers working with 30 clinics and serving about 20,000 patients. Aster is already enrolling clinics in Alaska, Alabama, and Ohio that have recently signed up for the future beta program.
According to Axios, the app will also include transcription services to make it simple to record patient and physician talks, in addition to the communication tools now available to deliver the best care possible for all women.
Fifi Kara told Femtech Insider, “Pregnancy complications cost the U.S. $54 billion per year and 80% are avoidable. Our company was founded because of a personal experience. My sister and nephew had an incredibly scary birth and we were all deeply inspired to change what could and should have been prevented for future mothers.”