In Conversation with Arielle Spiegel of CoFertility
Describe your business in a few words?
CoFertility is an online platform that aims to un-complicate the fertility journey by answering every fertility question out there with its content, resources and tools.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
After leaving my corporate job, I planned on doing some digital marketing strategy consulting and even interviewed for some other similar full-time roles in the retail marketing space. But, based on my own experience of years of fertility treatment and several pregnancy losses, I felt this calling to do something in the fertility world. I always felt like the existing fertility content out there was either too overwhelming, too dense, or too fluffy.
I felt that the 1 in 8 American couples who face some sort of fertility challenge deserved a better experience, and between my husband’s background in content marketing and my own in brand marketing and community engagement, I knew I could provide something better. I thought about different types of experiences, retail/physical spaces vs. online platforms and social communities. Ultimately I decided that an online experience would be the most impactful and allow the most access — infertility doesn’t discriminate, and everyone deserves helpful content for free.
Once I decided on a direction, things started moving quickly. I mapped out a plan of what we’d want included on the site, and hit the ground running. I still dabbled in some consulting on the side since I never really thought of Co as “starting my own business,” but before I knew it, things snowballed and that’s what it eventually became.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
Digital marketing strategy, specifically around social and paid media and content partnerships
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
Not at all. I always thrived on building engaging connections between big brands and their audiences, and thought I’d work brand-side forever. Little did I know that I’d eventually build my own brand and foster those connections within a totally different type of community.
Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?
We actually didn’t really have a major launch planned. By the time we launched, I was just so antsy and in a “done is better than perfect” mode. I just wanted the content out there. I began building the brand on social, prior to the site launch, just to get something real and tangible out there.
Given my background working for big brands, I’m used to major launch moments. But when you’re building something from the ground up and wearing so many hats, yes, the launch is important, but you’ve got to keep things moving and go on to the next priority.
I was fortunate, however, that I was able to build a bit of a community on social (and some email subscribers) beforehand, so that I had an audience to actually promote the launch to. I wanted to make sure that if a tree fell in the woods, there would be people around to hear it!
We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?
I’m always learning more every day about the importance of prioritization. Given my background in social community building, early on in CoFertility, I was very focused on the value of community engagement with our content. I had our web team spend a ton of time building comment functionality that felt seamlessly integrated within our site, not janky, and like an evolved experience. I was super inspired by sites like Into the Gloss that had a thriving comment community, and felt that if people felt passionately about a topic enough (like fertility), they would comment.
I was wrong. Almost all of our engagement takes place on our social channels, with our site really serving for consumption instead. I should have remembered that we should “fish where the fish are” and not force our audience to engage somewhere they don’t want to.
I’m still very enamored with the concept of evolved communities and what that looks like these days (Slack? Direct texting messaging? Something else?). But in hindsight, I should have de-escalated that priority to focus on more business-critical tasks. We’ll continue to think about community over time!
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
I’m so proud of our Grant Finder tool. It’s the largest database that exists on the Internet of money-saving opportunities for fertility treatment, including donated services, discounted services, discounted medication and more.
Fertility treatment is so expensive and cost prohibitive for so many, and there are tons of people who would make amazing parents but don’t have the option. Our tool makes it easy for them to apply for funding to make their dreams of parenthood a reality.
When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?
Because we’re a start-up, I always look for scrappiness. To me, that means two things — an open-minded approach to learning, and flexibility/willingness to wear many hats. I always ask about things candidates are excited to learn more about. It shows that even if they DON’T have existing experience in one area, they’re motivated to learn more. In my opinion, many things can be learned if someone has a great attitude and a passion for what they’re working on.
I love working with those with agency experience because they typically have experience juggling different tasks and priorities. They also usually keep a pretty positive attitude while doing so, because they’re used to dealing with so many different personalities.
How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Because more people are staying home, we’ve seen a nice uptick in site traffic as everyone is searching online for answers to their fertility questions. As I mentioned, fertility issues don’t discriminate and it’s part of our DNA to offer everyone the same access to information. We’re glad we’ve been able to provide some sense of confidence to those seeking fertility information during this uncertain time.
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
We say we aim to answer every fertility question out there, but we have a long way to go. Over the next few years, we not only plan to amp up our content to make sure we’re providing a robust experience that answers even more questions. I’m also thinking about how we can make these answers even more immediate, whether that’s via messaging, social, an app or something else.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
To prioritize effectively!
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?
Don’t get too hung up on branding. As a brand marketer, I was so focused on the look and feel of the brand and it sometimes got in the way of functionality and how to make the experience as user-friendly as possible.
Don’t get me wrong, branding is super important in building a connection with your audience. But at the end of the day, if our goal is to uncomplicate the fertility journey, I should have deprioritized branding a bit to focus more on functionality and getting our users the information they need.
How have you managed to stay grounded this year?
Learning that it’s okay to let certain things fall by the wayside depending on that day’s priorities!
And, on a personal note, moving from a city to the suburbs has been super nice for feeling a greater sense of calm. I try to get outside every day to breathe just a little bit of fresh air. It makes a difference!
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
I used to, but not anymore. Having a baby this year has shown me that life really ebbs and flows. Sometimes, things tip the scale in one direction or another. It’s best to just accept it and go with it, and know that you’ll always make it up in the other area down the line.
What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
I live for mindless TV. Housewives, Bachelor, you name it. Even for just 10 minutes a day, you have to have SOMETHING that helps you decompress. It makes a huge difference!
What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?
1. Morning rituals! Create a routine that makes you feel “together” every morning and it’ll really set the tone for the rest of your day.
2. Evaluate your to-do list daily and shift priorities as needed — what mattered yesterday may not matter today!
3. Commit to getting ONE main thing done. Now that I have a baby, gone are the days when my main focus was on work 24/7. But I still need to feel accomplished — so I try to achieve one small thing each day, even if it’s sending one email.
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
Being an Entreprenista means making time to pay it forward to others. I’m so grateful for those who have taken a chance on me — through brain-picking coffee chats, spreading the love on social, and lending their expertise in an area in which I’m less experienced — that I’m always down to help out fellow Entreprenistas in the same ways.