In this ongoing series, we are sharing advice, tips and insights from real entrepreneurs who are out there doing business battle on a daily basis. (Answers have been edited and condensed for clarity.)
Who are you and what’s your business?
I’m Alison Prato, founder of the Infertile AF Group, which includes the podcast Infertile AF and the community Fertility Rally, a safe, all-inclusive 24/7 community for anyone and everyone riding the roller coaster of infertility or building their modern families through assisted reproductive technology or ART (which I co-founded with Blair Nelson). Later this year, I’m going to add a third arm to the group and will be releasing my first in a series of books sharing various stories about modern family building.
Since 1-in-6 people experience infertility in their lifetime (according to the WHO report from 4/3/23), our mission is to increase awareness and education about infertility and create inclusive, “Let’s get REAL” support for anyone who is going or has gone through challenges during their fertility journey.
What inspired you to create this business?
Because we had a relatively easy time having our first child (Ever), we were confused, devastated, angry–you name it, we felt it–when we experienced several pregnancy losses the second time around. As I approached 40, we decided to try IVF–we had one shot and then only one healthy embryo…so the odds were low. Amazingly, the IVF worked and we had our son (Sonny). But the trauma and emotion from those dark days stayed with me.
When a girlfriend who had a similar experience asked me to share my story to help others, I wrote an article for Health magazine and started getting feedback from women, and from some men, who were just like, “Wow, nobody talks about this!” I realized quickly that there was a dearth of candid information about infertility and that there was still a stigma attached to it.
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What has been your biggest challenge and how did you pivot to overcome it?
My first big challenge was at the very beginning. Because I am a writer, my natural inclination was to write a book about my story. I shared my treatment with several editors and they all turned me down saying that the topic “wouldn’t sell.” Because of the momentum in the podcasting space, I channeled my energy into sharing stories in that medium and found that there was a huge audience. I’m not giving up on the book, though! Now, we’re at our next crossroads and it’s one that all entrepreneurs face: scaling the business and deciding which path toward growth to take.
What advice would you give entrepreneurs looking for funding?
Honestly, I’ve actively turned down angel funding so far because I wasn’t sure what shape the business would take or what the vision was. But now that we’ve been growing for four years and have a longer-term strategic plan, I’m starting to consider different forms of funding and partnerships. I’ve been building great relationships in the fertility and femtech spaces over the past few years and many of the successful startups (e.g., Extend Fertility, Cicero Diagnostics, Proov, Progyny, Kindbody) have been sponsors on the pod and of our events. Because they’ve gone through several funding rounds, I’ll be looking to them first for advice and connections!
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What does the word “entrepreneur” mean to you?
It’s funny because “entrepreneur” isn’t the first word that I would use to describe what I am or what I set out to be initially. But your question got me thinking! Based on my experience, an entrepreneur is someone who is a problem-solver, who approaches the world in a slightly different way than everyone else, and who is more excited than scared to try to turn their ideas into a profitable (and let’s add ethical and socially-conscious) business. I always see myself as a storyteller, which is the throughline from when I worked as a magazine editor for nearly two decades to now.
What is something many aspiring business owners think they need that they really don’t?
Since I have a journalism degree and have spent 20+ years as a journalist, I’m going to have to say an MBA or a business degree. If you can find trustworthy partners who understand the various nuances of business and are willing to learn yourself, I say go for it!
Is there a particular quote or saying that you use as personal motivation?
A quote I love is, “Why shouldn’t it be you?” So many of us have imposter syndrome, especially when it comes to business or starting something new. But I’ve realized, meeting so many other women entrepreneurs through HeyMama, a business group that I’m a part of, that I am just as smart and capable and hard-working as so many others. If you have a great idea, “Why shouldn’t it be you?” who starts it?
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