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Gina Bartasi leans in front of wall bearing the name of her fertility care facility, Kindbody

Entrepreneur Gina Bartasi was named to Inc. Magazine’s Female Founders List in 2021 for making fertility services more accessible. (courtesy of Gina Bartasi)

Gina Bartasi ’91 is the founder of five companies; her latest venture focuses on streamlining fertility benefits to improve the patient experience.

Kindbody founder and chairwoman Gina Bartasi (RTVMP ’91) discovered her entrepreneurial drive while still a student at UNC. Bartasi enjoys art and painted pictures of 18 of Chapel Hill’s most popular bars, which she then sold prints of for $20 apiece.

“It was good pocket change. Then my sorority sister’s dad bought my business for $3,200,” Bartasi said, laughing. “And I was like, ‘Wow!’”  The experience recalibrated her career focus from becoming an ESPN sportscaster — à la Robin Roberts — to starting businesses.

Bartasi is now an accomplished entrepreneur living in New York City. She is the founder of five companies, with the three most recent involving fertility services and benefits.

In 2009, Bartasi founded FertilityAuthority to help educate fertility patients about the challenges in the industry and to encourage them to take charge of their reproductive health. In late 2014, FertilityAuthority was acquired by two Silicon Valley-based venture capital firms, and Bartasi was hired to scale the legacy business to employers. The new company became Progyny and is now a $4 billion public company.

Bartasi’s fertility ventures were born from her own bumpy experience navigating fertility services when starting a family. Many people lack the funds to cover in-vitro fertilization, or their coverage lapses mid-treatment. Progyny sought to replace the legacy fee-for-service models in healthcare with a bundled case rate. It charges a commission, similar to an insurance company, to refer patients to physicians.

However, Bartasi heard consistently from employers seeking fertility benefits that, “what they really wanted was to contract with fertility doctors directly.” Bartasi listened and launched Kindbody in 2018. Like Progyny, it also offers fertility benefits, but its 30 clinics across the country allow employers to contract directly, saving them millions of dollars annually. “We were a bit of an anomaly early in the pandemic, when many people decided to start families,” Bartasi said. “But it’s been wildly successful.”

Bartasi was named to the Inc. Magazine Female Founders List in 2021 for making fertility services more accessible, with the recognition that all of Kindbody’s physicians are women and half are people of color. Her team at Kindbody has received other awards and honors, including being named to Forbes’ Best Startups (2021, 2022), and Inc.’s 2021 Best in Business list for Health Services.

Two core traits fostered her success: self-confidence and humility.

“UNC-Chapel Hill lays that foundation of how you will behave both personally and professionally throughout your life,” she reflected. “What I learned from Chapel Hill, and what’s rooted in me today, is that you must be wildly self-confident to be an entrepreneur. But you also have to balance the self-confidence that the University teaches with humility.”

As a female entrepreneur, Bartasi faced long odds. “Women are half the population. But only 2.7% of all venture capital goes to women,” she said. While Bartasi concedes she’s seen the gender gap improve slightly in the past 20 years, she emphasized the need to diversify the entrepreneurial field.

Bartasi is giving back to UNC by serving on the advisory board of the Shuford Program in Entrepreneurship. The program offers a minor in entrepreneurship based in the College and open to all students regardless of major. The program also seeks to elevate those who are underrepresented in entrepreneurship.

She is hopeful that under the leadership of executive director Bernard Bell, the program will train a new generation of diverse science- and tech-focused entrepreneurs.

“I’ve spent six or seven years of my career back and forth to the West Coast,” Bartasi said. “But does the entrepreneurial pipeline there really have to be unique to Silicon Valley, or can we emulate those programs in other pockets of the nation? Why not Chapel Hill?”

By DeLene Beeland

Published in the Fall 2022 issue | Tar Heels Up Close

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