LatchAid raises £1m to expand revolutionary breastfeeding and parenthood support app

DrChenMaoDavies

Femtech start-up, LatchAid, has raised £1 million to grow its breastfeeding and early parenthood support app, teaching new mums practical skills and helping them fight loneliness, postnatal depression and physical pain.

Cirencester-based LatchAid is a pioneering app that uses cutting-edge interactive technology and 3D avatars to help expectant and new mothers intuitively learn breastfeeding skills. The app also connects mothers to close-knit peer-to-peer support groups, live experts who can provide 1-2-1 advice and an empathetic, AI-powered virtual supporter chatbot – all to provide personalised expertise and companionship, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

LatchAid was founded by CGI specialist, Dr Chen Mao Davies, who previously worked on Oscar & BAFTA award-winning visual effects for Hollywood blockbusters, Gravity and Blade Runner 2049.

Compelled by her own difficulties with breastfeeding and faced with a deep personal challenge, she collaborated with film industry colleagues and infant feeding, maternal health and AI experts to develop the technology behind LatchAid.

“I was determined to breastfeed my child,” says Chen, “but nobody told me how difficult and painful it could be.

“I developed mastitis and thrush and it went on for weeks with mum and baby crying during feeding time. I just felt such a failure – I couldn’t feed my own baby. His weight dropped and I developed postnatal depression.”

“As a technologist, I was frankly shocked by the lack of innovation in this space. We had once a week peer support groups, which were useful – but what about 2am when you’re lonely, in pain and at your lowest point?”

LatchAid_AppScreenshotsAs 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. 90% of UK women give up breastfeeding before they want to because of pain, health issues, and/or lack of support.

LatchAid’s £1m funding raise has come from a number of sources – a mix of innovation loans from Innovate UK, a convertible loan note from the KQ Labs accelerator programme, and equity investment from expert business angel investors.

The angel group was led by Dan Cobley, former MD of Google UK & Ireland, and also includes Eileen Burbidge MBE, described by Fortune Magazine as the “Queen of British VC”, along with Priya Oberoi, founding partner of the female-centred healthcare fund, Goddess Gaia Ventures, among others.

LatchAid’s investment journey began with the award of an Innovate UK “Women in Innovation” award  and has been supported throughout by Innovate UK EDGE Access to Finance Specialist, Ed Tellwright, who helped LatchAid develop a clear, compelling and credible investment proposition.

“Ed really helped me to restructure my pitch, make it punchy and follow the thought process of an investor,” said Chen, “it’s proved a big boost to our investment journey.”

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.

Dan Cobley 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 Angels, LatchAid will grow to be an amazing force for good in this critical health area, first in the UK and then across the world.”

LatchAid currently offers 24/7 digital support to users in 84 countries and is available to download on the App Store. The company has recently completed a successful pilot with 12 NHS trusts and the HCRG Group across the UK, demonstrating positive health and economic benefits.

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