Serena Williams Invests in Tech Startup Fighting Maternal Mortality

Tennis superstar Serena Williams and Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban just invested into Mahmee, a tech startup fighting maternal mortality.

Williams and Cuban invested $3 million into the company with additional contributions.

In 2017, Williams almost died after giving her birth to her daughter Olympia. This investment, made through her firm Serena Ventures, marks a smart move that’s championing a cause Williams has been personally affected by.

“I am incredibly excited to invest and partner with Mahmee, a company that personifies my firm’s investment philosophy,” said Williams in a statement. “Given the bleak data surrounding maternal death and injury rates, I believe that it is absolutely critical right now to invest in solutions that help protect the lives of moms and babies. Mahmee’s data-driven approach is the right solution to one of the most significant problems in the system: that of fragmented care.”

Linda Hanna, Melissa Hanna and Sunny Walia

Mahmee was co-founded by CEO Melissa Hanna, CTO Sunny Walia, and Chief Nursing Officer Linda Hanna.

“This industry is lacking the IT infrastructure needed to connect […] professionals from different organizations to each other, and to follow and monitor patients across practices and health systems,” said Melissa Hanna. “This missing element creates gaps in care. Mahmee is the glue that connects the care ecosystem and closes the gaps.”

The startup becomes the glue by linking mom and baby’s health history and data, proactively engaging, checking on and monitors patients through “maternity coaches” and escalating concerns to doctors so that mom and baby’s care plan stays up to date and critical red flags aren’t missed.

According to the Center for Disease Control, for every 5 mothers dying in the United States from pregnancy and childbirth, 3 could have been saved. And pregnancy-related deaths for Black women is 3 to 4 times higher than those of white women.

Black maternal mortality has actually been a key subject this year in the political arena.

Senator Elizabeth Warren rolled out a plan to combat the disproportionately high rate of maternal mortality for Black women in the United States. Legislation is also be rolled out on Capitol Hill.

Per The Hill, Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and 2020 hopeful Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) have introduced the Healthy MOMMIES Act, which expands Medicaid coverage to prenatal, labor and postpartum care, while Reps. Lauren Underwood (D-Ill.) and Alma Adams (D-N.C.) formed the Black Maternal Health Caucus in April.

Mahmee goals align with fighting the aforementioned stats for Black women and all women.

The investment is also special because even though companies built by Black women generate millions of dollars, they receive 0.0006% of venture capital, according to Project Diane, (via Business Insider) and only 30-40 Black women have been able to raise $1M in VC funds (per 2018 reports).

This is a change for two narratives at once.

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Bryant Lydell

Bryant Lydell is creative, personable and quick-witted Howard and USC alum. He's the founder of The Top Tea, a songwriter, screenwriter and member of the casting team for Netflix's NAACP Image Award-winning hip-hop competition series Rhythm + Flow.

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