In 2018, Penguin Random House accounts manager Kristyn Hodgdon was 28 and struggling with infertility and IVF. Without friends yet who were trying to conceive and a fertility clinic filled with patients unwilling to talk about their journeys, she turned to the internet to find stories she could relate to and learn from.
She didn’t find much.
“No one was really talking about [infertility or IVF] online,” Hodgdon said.
So she started a personal blog to share her story and connect with others going through the same journey. By the time Hodgdon became pregnant, she’d built a strong following of about 75,000 on Instagram and 25,000 monthly pageviews to her blog.
“I obviously saw a need for what I was doing,” she said. So she kept blogging. She shared stories from people in the community and leaned on her background in publishing to build a digital publishing platform called The Fertility Tribe. It became a lifestyle brand that provided community and resources for nontraditional paths to parenthood.
For two years, the platform was a side hustle. But when Hodgdon lost child care in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, she was faced with a choice between finding a new day care for her twins or quitting her publishing job. She chose to leave Penguin Random House and focus on The Fertility Tribe while caring for her kids.
A few months later, she met fellow fertility entrepreneur Abby Mercado through an Instagram Live broadcast, and the future of her business was recast.
Merging The Fertility Tribe with another business
When she met Hodgdon, former venture investor Abby Mercado — like Hodgdon, a mother to boy/girl twins conceived using IVF — was in the midst of a seed round for a mobile app called Best Shot to help fertility patients manage their medications. The two quickly became friends and realized how well their businesses complemented each other.
“We both had what each other needed and were like, we’re stronger together than we are alone,” Hodgdon said. She brought the community, and Mercado brought the product.
In July 2021, Best Shot and The Fertility Tribe merged to create a new co-founded company, Rescripted. (Websites for both Best Shot and The Fertility Tribe now redirect to Rescripted.)
Formally, Rescripted is a DBA of Mercado’s existing company, Best Shot Care, Inc. The new brand combines Best Shot’s marketplace and pharmacy tech with the editorial content and community Hodgdon built around The Fertility Tribe.
Rather than hand over her content and community outright in an asset sale, Hodgdon continues to run them as Rescripted’s chief creative officer. She’s an equal partner with Mercado, who manages the business as CEO, as well as CTO Peregrin Marshall. No cash changed hands; Hodgdon made a licensing deal with Best Shot, Inc. to use assets on the Rescripted platform, and she retains ownership of the IP in case the new company stops operating for any reason.
Hodgdon was excited at the prospect of merging the businesses to better serve her community, but she was protective of the brand she’d built. She spent three months contemplating Mercado’s offer to merge, joining Best Shot team meetings and investor presentations to make sure they were aligned on the vision for the brand and business before she signed on.
“I realized they really saw me as a valuable member of the team and not like, oh, we just want her followers,” Hodgdon said.
Why these two fertility businesses joined forces
A typical acquisition wouldn’t have been the right move for the co-founders, since Hodgdon wanted to continue to oversee the content and community.
Merging with the engaged Fertility Tribe community was appealing to the Best Shot team because it meant the tech startup could scale faster. As Rescripted, the business was able to raise $1.65 million in a seed round, said Hodgdon. Of those angel investors, 40% have experienced IVF firsthand and almost half are women, Femtech Insider reported. Best Shot had previously raised $120,000 from Techstars Boulder.
For The Fertility Tribe’s community members, the merger meant access to an online pharmacy of inexpensive fertility medications and a marketplace of products sold by a network of Rescripted partners through a platform with the forum and content they’d come to enjoy.
“The power of our team is that we all kind of stay in our lanes while also being collaborative,” Hodgdon said. ”Abby’s business, Per[egrin] is tech and I’m creative. Abby trusts my judgment on all things creative, I trust her judgment on all things business, and we trust Per on his input on the tech side.”
The rebrand involved significant work on the back end and care on the front end for The Fertility Tribe community. The team built a new website to house the editorial content and community platform, which had previously lived separately on a Squarespace blog and Mighty Networks community.
“It’s been so amazing to have a developer on our team, because he can basically build whatever,” said Hodgdon.
The Fertility Tribe’s Instagram handle changed to @fertility.rescripted, and Hodgdon introduced the new brand to her followers through a series of posts teasing the news and describing the meaning behind the new name.
“I had such an established brand,” Hodgdon said. “I had literally built this all from scratch, and I didn’t want it to turn it into anything less authentic than I had already built.”
Instagram engagement took a dip as the network’s algorithm reacted to the new handle, but the brand received a warm welcome from the community. The founders have stayed open to requests and suggestions from members now that they have full control over the community forum design.
Hodgdon’s advice for founders considering a merger
Hodgdon is happy with this move for her business, and she’s glad she took the time to carefully vet Best Shot to see that Mercado and Marshall would be the right partners for her. She recommended everyone do the same when considering getting into business with anyone else.
“Make sure you really vet the person’s character or the company’s core values so that you don’t lose control over what you have worked so hard to build,” she said.
Before entering into a deal like the one she chose, Hodgdon advised founders to consult a lawyer, even when the relationship is positive.
“Think about every scenario,” she said. “Like if the business fails, what happens? If I decide it’s not a good fit, what happens? If we sell, what happens? There’s just a lot of different scenarios that you have to think about when you’re bringing assets to the table.”