Deborah Brock, founder and CEO of Nua Fertility, joined the Money Never Sleeps show to share her story on the origins of Nua Fertility in Ireland, why it made so much sense to add in educational elements and a community ethos to the value proposition, finding global partners….and rugby as an analogy for startup life!
Deborah spent 15 years in the non-profit and education sectors, and then after her own experience with solving infertility, was inspired to start Nua Fertility in 2017. Nua Fertility launched its first product in 2020, NuaBiome for Women, which is the first-of-its-kind, natural pre-natal fertility supplement specially developed to help support female fertility.
On launching her own business: “When you’ve been through fertility treatments, you suddenly have a PhD in fertility because you go from one extreme to the other. It just naturally led me into thinking about moving into the space as an entrepreneur. I hear a lot of people talking about, ‘I always wanted to start my own business,’ but that wasn’t me. I happened to fall into this because I wanted to be able to help others.”
On getting started: “So I approached Enterprise Ireland and I applied for an innovation voucher and rocked down to Cork to APC Microbiome, one of the biggest research centers in the world. I went into them and said, ‘I think there’s this connection here between the gut microbiome and fertility’. We started looking at an R&D partnership, then product development, and that’s where our first proprietary product was born.”
On making it real: “The first thing was to find a manufacturer who wanted to take me on. I was approaching people as an unknown startup with a product formulation that potentially hadn’t been looked at before and I had to get them to buy in, and it’s a big jump.
On the pushback: “I kept getting told in the beginning ‘you’re going into a really saturated market, you’re playing with these big sharks,’ and I’m hearing this nonstop. It used to drive me mad to the point where I’d say, ‘Yes, I recognize that there are lots of players, and there are big sharks, but I am a small fish that can swim very, very fast. It’s going to be okay.” We could adapt and do things that large organizations couldn’t do.”
On how there’s no easy answer: “There isn’t a magic doctor. There isn’t a magic pill. There isn’t a magic clinic that’s going to get you pregnant. But what there is, is being able to support yourself, be armed with information and education.”
On prioritizing as an entrepreneur: “You have to be thinking constantly about visibility and credibility. If what we’re doing doesn’t drive either of those, they get dropped. Because it’s wasting my time.”
On having global ambitions: “Here’s me with my big ambitions, big ideas. You still have to crawl before you run the marathon though. I put myself back into that box constantly, being realistic about where we are as a company, how we are growing and how to do that with a very measured approach.”
On thinking about investors: “We’d like to find somebody who’s going to add that extra value, work with us in a mentorship capacity – someone who will invest in us, but also believes in what we’re doing.”
Episode title inspired by Perfect To Me by Anne Marie