Avestria Ventures’ Linda Greub and Corinne Nevinny

From our Women's PE Briefs - week commencing April 5, 2021

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Avestria Ventures, which was founded by Linda Greub and Corinne Nevinny, is poised to generate an impressive first exit – an event that comes as the women’s health-focused firm prepares to close its first fund. Alydia Health, which was co-founded by Jesse Becker Alexander in 2011, is being acquired by Organon, which is being spun-off from Merck as a separate publicly traded company. Organon will pay up to $240 million for Alydia, which includes $215 million upfront plus a $25 million contingent milestone payment. Investors put a total of $32.5 million into Alydia, which is focused on making childbirth safer. Other investors in the Menlo Park, Calif. company included Astia Angels, whose CEO is Sharon Vosmek; AXA Investment Managers, which was led into Alydia’s $13.9 million Series C round a year ago by Zina Affas Besse; and the Global Health Investment Fund. Avestria, which is closing its debut fund at $10 million, invested a total of $800,000 in Alydia, Linda tells Women’s PE Briefs. The firm, she said, stands to receive up to $5.8 million, which would represent an IRR of more than 450 percent.

Alydia is developing technology designed to prevent the maternal morbidity and mortality caused by postpartum hemorrhage. PPH is one of the most common complications of birth, resulting in pharmacologic treatment in up to 10 percent of mothers and potentially resulting in emergency interventions such as hysterectomy and blood transfusions. Alydia’s Jada System is intended to provide control and treatment of abnormal postpartum uterine bleeding or hemorrhage when conservative management is warranted. The system received 510(k) clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in August. Organon, which is focused on being a global leader in women’s health, will look to help Alydia grow Jada, potentially into Europe and other developed countries as well less developed markets where it has a presence.

Jesse conceived of the device when she was a 21-year-old student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. She founded Alydia with Nathan Blair. Jesse, an advisor to Alydia, is now an entrepreneur in residence at the Sacramento State Carlsen Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship in Sacramento, Calif.

Both Avestria and Astia Angels – which backs women-led companies – invested in Alydia’s $10.3 million Series B round in September 2018. Linda said she and Corinne came to know of Alydia through Wende Hutton of Canaan Partners, who as an individual was an advisor to the company. “One of the things we loved about the technology from the beginning was that it was so simple,” said Linda. “Essentially the Jada device applies suction to the uterine cavity and stimulates normal uterine contractions to stop postpartum bleeding.” They also saw that the problem Alydia was seeking to address was a significant one. Postpartum hemorrhaging, points out Linda, impacts 10.8 percent of all deliveries worldwide and results in the death of approximately 186,500 women annually.

Alydia was one of four investments that Linda and Corinne rolled into Avestria when they created the firm in 2019. The two had previously been founders of LMN Ventures, which had focused on backing clean, green, health, wellness, fitness and education-oriented businesses that improve the quality of life. A desire to focus on health care – and specifically women’s health companies – led to Linda and Corinne forming Avestria, whose investments also include Raydiant, which provides improved guidance as to whether an emergency caesarean delivery is needed, and Genome Medical, Inc., a genomics medical practice company co-founded and led by Lisa Alderson.

The firm re-invested in Alydia’s 2020 round. Linda said that Anne Morrissey – who led Alydia between 2016 and early 2020 – and her team “did a great job executing the clinical trials” and that the feedback from physicians “was incredibly enthusiastic.” The company, she said, benefitted from the fact that its trials were completed just prior to COVID shutting down numerous other trials. After landing FDA clearance, the company’s launch of Jada “was strong right from the beginning” with “more incoming orders from hospitals than the small initial salesforce could manage,” she said. Organon’s acquisition, she said, will soon make the Jada technology “and its life-saving benefits” available “to women all over the world” and also “provides important validation to the strong economics of investing in women's health."

Zina joined Alydia’s board after last year’s round. She is a managing partner with Global Health Funds, which advises AXA IM on its health care investments. Global Health Funds manages funds investing in lifesaving and life-improving therapies that can be made available globally at affordable prices while generating attractive returns. The company’s board also includes Phyllis Whiteley, a life sciences consultant who is a venture partner with Playground Global and Shacey Petrovic, CEO and president of Insulet Corporation. Erica Rogers, CEO of Silk Road Medical, has been an observer on the board.

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