A Trusted and Safe Digital Space: How Simmone Taitt is Disrupting the Maternal Healthcare Model

The Crunchbase “Female Founder Series,” is a series of stories, Q&As, and thought-leadership pieces from glass-ceiling-smashers who overcame the odds, raised funding, and are now leading successful companies.

Simmone Taitt, Founder & CEO of Poppy Seed Health, is on a mission to bring together womxn from pregnancy through postpartum.

After an isolating experience with her doctor, Simmone sought comfort and community. She quickly saw the lack of emotional and mental health support for womxn going through the life changing experience of having children and sought to rectify it. Her company is transforming the way care is delivered by providing 24/7 on-demand text access to doulas, midwives, and nurses — and it’s working, especially during the COVID era, when she’s seen a 140% increase in business. A sales, innovation, and growth strategy leader, Simmone spent 14 years building high growth startups before starting Poppy Seed Health.

We asked Simmone about the story behind her company — from the first product iteration to fundraising during a worldwide pandemic — and the advice she has for others building industry-disrupting, impact-driven companies.


Q: Tell us the story behind your company’s founding: What led you to start this business?

A: In 2016, I had the first of what would be multiple miscarriages and the interaction with my doctor was quick, cold, and isolating. I did what so many women do and I turned to “Dr. Google” to find — of all things — comfort. The irony is that I found exactly what I was looking for and it came in the form of an online doula board. I made two decisions that night: To become a birth doula and to leverage the power of technology to bring together womxn seeking emotional and mental health support during their pregnancy and postpartum journey together into a trusted and safe digital space.


Q: In what ways do you think differently about your industry than others do? In what ways are you disrupting your industry?

A: Accessibility and affordability are core to our mission. We know that having the emotional and mental health support of maternal health advocates in collaboration with providers is essential for improved health outcomes for both the birthing person and baby. What we are disrupting is the one-size-fits-all maternal healthcare model.


Q: What was your biggest challenge during the fundraising process, and how did you mitigate it? 

A: I started fundraising the third week of February 2020 and then the novel Coronavirus sent the world into quarantine two weeks later. I had planned to close our first round of financing by March 31. There was no mitigating a pandemic.

Instead, we went heads down to support the womxn that were put in the impossible position of birthing without partners and advocates who lost their livelihood overnight. When I picked my head up two months later, our business had grown 140%, adaptability for telehealth and telemedicine services in the U.S. had grown quadruple percentages, and maternal healthcare was squarely in the spotlight for alternatives to support the overly burdened healthcare system. 

I went back out to raise in the middle of the pandemic and we were oversubscribed within 45 days.


Q: What has worked for you in terms of customer acquisition? What hasn’t worked?

A: Our first MVP was simple innovation — 1:1 communication on WhatsApp. We needed to be scrappy, innovative, and resourceful to get customer feedback to help shape our product. Word-of-mouth acquisition has served us well; we have a 78% referral rate coming from existing customers. The same has worked with advocates who have a 85% referral rate which has allowed us to grow faster than expected.


Q: What are the three most important things you look for when bringing on a new hire?

A: First, a connection to our mission and business model. We are a Certified B-Corp which means that purpose and profit take equal priority. Second, I look for problem solvers who are anchored in data and trusting their intuition. Third, a genuine commitment to womxn’s healthcare and tearing down systematic healthcare inequalities.


Q: What is one challenge you have faced as a female founder? What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs in a similar situation?

A: I am not just a female founder, I am also a Black woman and historically those two things together have limited access. However, I don’t see either as limiting. On the contrary, I see my point of view and life experience as critical to my leadership, the problem we are solving, and the products we are building to be powerful and inclusive. My advice is to show up your most authentic self. The rollercoaster of entrepreneurship will challenge you to become better, everyday. Stay grounded in your authenticity but strong and flexible like bamboo.


Q: What advice would you give someone starting out on the journey you’re on?

A: Find the right team to build within the early days because you cannot do all of the things — even though being cost conscious will make you think you can. Second to that, but just as important, your early investors should also be impactful advisors to your company. Raising is not easy and the temptation to take every dollar that is offered would be appealing but in my experience, I’ve found that choosing investors like you would choose your team is critical to success.

Dreamers & Doers is a private collective which amplifies the entrepreneurial pursuits of extraordinary womxn through high-impact resources, community and mutual support. It is supported by a global ecosystem of 30,000 womxn. Learn more about Dreamers & Doers and sign up for their monthly carefully curated list of top career and entrepreneurial resources.

  • Originally published August 27, 2020