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Extend Fertility was a biotechnology company that specifically deals with the cryopreservation of female egg cells. The main target market of this company is a female client who wanted to have a baby when they are already in their mid-30s or late 30s. This particular age bracket means two things. These women had decided to forego motherhood because of careers, post-graduate studies or both. At the same time this age bracket means that they are already successful enough to afford this kind of procedure as well as the capability to raise a family. Cryopreservation as a fertility tool has its advantages and disadvantages. If Christy Jones the CEO of Extend Fertility, together with her business partner Nadia Campbell can manage to deal with the imperfections of the business model – turning weakness into strength – there is a high probability of success. If Jones and Campbell cannot solve the problems and overcome the hurdles in front of them, then, Extend Fertility will be added to the long list of promising start-up companies that had to be folded up because it is not viable.

Discussion and Review

The opportunity finding process focused on the demand for a better “fertility” service. In other words Jones and Campbell simply focused on the benefits of their service but did not pay careful attention to the viability of the final stages of the fertilization process. Since their business model was anchored in the concept of cost-efficient cryopreservation, it is easy to understand why certain aspects of the fertilization process were overlooked. Jones and Campbell were correct to point out that there is 21st century professionals wanted to lead rich personal and professional lives. At the same time they were correct to highlight the fact that fertility clinics are still in its infancy and leaves much to be desired. However, there is a gap between the desire to have children when women are in their 30s or late 30s and the fact that there are other factors to consider before a woman can be pregnant and deliver a healthy baby.

Analysis

The opportunity finding process was supposed to have two stages. The first stage was to find out the need for a particular service or product. In other words, there is a need to determine if there is a demand for a product or service before a business model can be created to address that particular need. Jones and Campbell were able to complete the first stage and this can be seen in their business presentation wherein they pointed out that by the age 40 a woman has less than 10% chance of having a successful pregnancy (Hart & Sensiper, 2005). However, they did not give much attention to the next stage of the process which is to solve the problems that they discover along the way in order to develop a more viable business model.

Concerns

One of the major issues that was not resolved before the launching of the business was the need to prove to potential clients that an egg can be frozen and thawed and yet fertilized to become a healthy embryo that in turn will grow into a healthy baby. There are numerous stages in the said process and each component is complex and requires extensive research. Therefore, Jones and Campbell should not only worry about money but the time constraints inherent in fertility experiments. Jones and Campbell came up with what can be argued as a haphazard solution to a critical problem by suggesting that one effective way to convince potential clients was to develop an experiment where 40 couples would agree to be “guinea pigs” for this experiment. The major weakness of this experiment is the lack of consideration in creating a valid study. The 40 couples were chosen because they needed donor eggs and wanted to avail of a service that was offered for free. But more importantly the eggs that were used for the experiment were frozen only for 24 hours. From a scientific point of view, there is a major difference between freezing an egg for 24 hours and freezing it for 15 years. Aside from medical experts who specialize in cryopreservation there are only a few people who can appreciate and truly understand the implications of freezing living thing for more than a decade and expect to have the same results.

The second major problem that Jones and Campbell failed to analyze extensively is with regards to the issue of cost and practicality. These two issues are intertwined and must be treated as one. For example, the cost of cryopreservation is just part of the process and yet it is not a cheap medical procedure. Therefore, those who can afford it are women who are already successful in their own careers. These women are in the age bracket of 35 to 40. If they can only afford the procedure during that time period and are ready to undergo IVF then, there is no need for cryopreservation. They will need a donor egg and undergo the process of IVF, bypassing the cryopreservation stage. Therefore, Extend Fertility should target women who are of the age bracket 25-30 years old. This is the age group that can appreciate the importance of cryopreservation. However, there is the problem of cost. Can a 25-year-old woman who struggles between career and post-graduate studies have the time, energy and money to pay for an expensive procedure?

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The possible solution is to partner with financiers like a loan from a bank or to work with Health Maintenance Organizations or HMOs. But many are aware of the business model utilized by financial institutions, HMOs or even pre-need companies. It is not beneficial for them to finance an expensive procedure without making sure that the client has invested in their company for a long time. The return of investment is the money that they will use to finance the said medical procedure. Therefore, in order for a woman to avail of the services of Extend Fertility, it is important to start the process early in her adult life. The ideal age to start investing in the said procedure is 25 years old. Now, there is a problem with this scenario. How many 25-year-old females had made up their minds that they will not have babies up until they are already in their late thirties? There are only a few women in the world who have that mindset. The small number of women who are willing to invest early in cryopreservation is a significantly small number and therefore Extend Fertility may not be able to reach the 200 mark that can bring the company into financial stability.

Recommendations

The company is not yet credible in the eyes of regulatory agencies, medical experts, and financial institutions because it is not yet a proven concept. The company should delay its launch for another two years. The company should demonstrate that even if the egg was frozen for one year the resulting embryo is viable. One year will be used for freezing and then, 9 months will be utilized to grow the embryo through IVF. It is only after these twin procedures are completed that Extend Fertility can be seen as having a credible procedure that can assure safe delivery. The mother must not miscarriage and the baby must be healthy.

The company must focus on a specific target market due to the cost and other practical concerns. Based on the business model the company must focus on women between the age bracket of 25-30 years old who are in currently in post-graduate studies, career-oriented, or entrepreneurs who are convinced that they will want to have a baby in their late 30s. It is this particular demographic that are willing to invest in an expensive medical procedure. In order to increase the number of their clientele the company should also focus on cancer patients and other individuals with health problems that require cryopreservation of their eggs for future use.

Finally, Extend Fertility must clarify and finalize two important issues. First, it is imperative to develop a financing scheme for 25-30 year old women who are willing to avail of their service. If it requires a partnership with a financial institution, then, Jones and Campbell must be able to explain to potential clients that it is relatively stress free to embark on this type of procedure. Second, the company must clearly explain to potential clients how to the eggs will be stored and illustrate clearly what will happen from storage to IVF and pregnancy. The company must clarify the true cost of the procedure from harvesting to pregnancy because it is a project that can take at least 15 years to complete.

Code: Sample20

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