Female Founded + Funded: A Conversation with ACME Capital and Tia

November 9, 2021

The Crunchbase “Female Founder Series” is comprised of stories, Q&As and thought-leadership pieces from glass-ceiling-smashers who overcame the odds and are now leading successful companies, or investing in them.


Tia’s mission is to enable every person to achieve their own definition of optimal health through science-backed information, access to high-quality care, and community. Carolyn Witte, first-time co-founder and CEO, was inspired to start the company stemming from her own experience with just how broken the health care system is, especially for women. 

Carolyn went through a three-year long process of seeing various doctors before being finally diagnosed with PCOS, something that about 5 million women in the U.S. have and one of the most common endocrine disorders for females. If she had difficulty getting diagnosed with one of the most common medical disorders for women her age, she wondered what it was like for other women with less-common or more-complicated conditions. She then became obsessed with the idea of fixing the disconnects in the health system, and along with co-founder Felicity Yost, launched Tia to solve the disconnects women experience in their health care. 

In September 2021, Tia raised a $100 million Series B with investors including ACME Capital, bringing the company’s total funding to date to $132.8 million. “​​I loved how Carolyn and Felicity were focused on solving the real problems in health care for women instead of creating just an ancillary Band-Aid,” said ACME’s Aike Ho. “Women in health care are treated as if they’re just smaller men. By building a full-stack model, Tia had the foresight of a system that could deliver superior and comprehensive clinical care with better operational efficiencies than your typical primary care, which is traditionally a loss leader.”

In this joint Q&A, Ho and Witte, respectively, share their experiences in venture capital and entrepreneurship, along with the story of ACME’s investment in Tia and how the two are now working together to improve women’s health care.


Aike Ho, Principal, ACME Capital

At ACME, Ho focuses on health care and fintech investments. She spent most of her career at J.P. Morgan, where she played various intrapreneurial roles across the bank. In 2014, she helped launch the investment bank’s 150-person cross-asset electronic trading desk, named Execution Services. At the consumer bank, she led initial development for major strategic projects such as Chase Pay and digital account opening. Prior to her corporate detour, Ho was a serial entrepreneur.

Q: Why did you choose to enter VC? 

Ho: I started out on the other side of the table as a serial entrepreneur. I raised my first VC funding when I was in college and was intrigued by this black box, so ended up writing my sociology senior thesis at the time on venture capital. The second reader for my thesis was the late David Cromwell, former CEO of JPMorgan Chase Capital Corp. He subsequently taught my paper as one of the two required readings in his Yale School of Management course, “Venture Capital and Private Equity Investments.” 

That was the last exposure to venture for a while; it wasn’t until later in my career that I revisited it. I had been diagnosed with cancer. In the year to recovery, I learned everything I could about the very broken U.S. health care system, thinking I’d start a company in the space–it was a coping mechanism in hindsight. In that process, I realized that investing could be a powerful way to go after the thematic interests I really cared about. I found my home in ACME and the rest is history. 

Q: Why did you start or choose the VC firm/fund you’re currently at? 

Ho: Culture, culture, culture. There are many ways to succeed in venture, but life is short and I’d rather do it with people whom I deeply love and respect. My friends at ACME—they are more than colleagues—are some of the smartest, kindest, goofiest people I’ve ever met; and they’re all built with DNA toward servant leadership. That low-ego, collaborative nature is really rare in venture. We constantly hear from founders, both in our portfolio and outside, how unique that is. 

Q: What is your advice for other female VCs at the beginning of their journeys? 

Ho: This may be the most important decision in your venture career: Find the right firm that will champion you vs. you having to champion yourself. People are constantly telling you who they are, even as early as the interview process. Listen to those signals. Don’t settle for just getting a venture job—yes, open seats are hard to come by. Find the people who will see you, value your contributions, nurture you and are genuinely rooting for your growth and success. Everything else will come after that.  

Q: What attracted you to Tia?

Ho: I was first introduced to Witte through a mutual friend during Tia’s seed extension round, before its first clinic was up and running. I loved how Witte and Yost were focused in solving the real problems in health care for women instead of creating just an ancillary Band-Aid. Women in health care are treated as if they’re just smaller men. By building a full stack model, Tia had the foresight of a system that could deliver superior and comprehensive clinical care with better operational efficiencies than your typical primary care, which is traditionally a loss leader. 

Even though our SF clinic has not opened yet, I’ve been a loyal Tia patient for a few years now, primarily through virtual visits. Those virtual visits alone are better than any in-person primary care I’ve ever had, whether it’s from a health system or one of the newer primary care upstarts. I am treated like a whole person with Tia, instead of parts and pieces that do not talk to each other. I can’t imagine ever going back to a generalist primary care clinical methodology. 

Even though I passed in that initial round, we kept in touch and became friends. By the time of their Series A, we were absolutely convinced that Tia’s approach was the winning one and ended up investing.

Q: How do you work with Tia?

Ho: I serve as a board observer for the company. Along with the ACME team, I try to bring the lessons learned from both our health care portfolio–Curology, Cue Health, PillPack, Doctor on Demand, The Pill Club, Brightside–and beyond, Uber, DraftKings, Astra, ipsy, to Tia as we scale the company. We’ve invested in many companies that go beyond software, where technology meets the physical real world. With Tia’s brick-and-mortar clinics, we’ve been working closely with the company to chart out the best path to expand it in serving as many women in the U.S. as possible. 

Q: What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned in VC? 

Ho: At this point, hopefully everyone has watched “Ted Lasso” (if not you should!). There’s a saying from one of the players in the show, “Football is life.” One of my colleagues joked recently that VC is life. There are many ways to interpret that. One that is most profound for me is that all compartmentalizations are simply illusions. For me, that means really focusing on becoming the person I want to be and knowing, from that core, my work will speak for itself. Whatever mental blocks and old defense mechanisms I have as a person, they will inevitably show up in my work. In wading into those depths, I can grow into being a better human, investor, friend, etc. That is what Ted Lasso so beautifully captures. Teams don’t win from more drills: It’s the personal growth that enables talented players to get out of their own ways and fulfill their highest potential. VC is life. 


Carolyn Witte, Co-founder and CEO, Tia

Witte believes her mission in life is to fight the health care inequalities women face. After experiencing her own set of health struggles and seeing how the health care system is not built for women, Witte started Tia to reimagine women’s health care from the ground up. Together with her co-founder Yost, Witte built Tia, the modern medical home for women. The company is trailblazing a new paradigm for women’s health care that treats women as whole people vs. parts or life stages. Witte has been recognized on Forbes 30 under 30, Inc Female Founder 100, and Business Insider’s Healthcare 30 under 40. Amid the pandemic, Witte and Yost also closed a $24.3 million Series A, the largest led by a female CEO in 2020, in addition to a $100 million round in September 2021. 

Q: Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

Witte: I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit and an obsession with uncomplicating complex issues, which led me to my role at Google before founding Tia. That being said, I never imagined I would be a founder of a health care company! 

Q: What inspired you to start your company?

Witte: The inspiration for Tia stemmed from my own experience with just how broken the health care system is, especially for women. I went through a three-year long process of seeing various doctors before being finally diagnosed with PCOS, something that about 5 million women in the U.S. have and is one of the most common endocrine disorders for women. If I wasn’t able to be diagnosed with one of the most common medical disorders for women my age, I wondered what it was like for other women with less-common or more-complicated conditions. I became obsessed with the idea of fixing the disconnects I saw in the health system, and along with my co-founder Felicity Yost, launched Tia to solve the disconnects all women experience in their health care. 

Q: What problems were you trying to solve with your company?

Witte: The pandemic created a new, silent health crisis for women in America: 86 percent of women are delaying preventative care exams essential for detecting and preventing fatal disease. The pandemic has also revealed how critical mental health is to women’s health. Tia delivers virtual and in-person care that fuses primary care, gynecology, mental health and evidence-based wellness care. We’ve also reimagined the annual exam to treat women’s bodies and minds by incorporating a mental health screening. Our goal is to deliver comprehensive, virtual-first care that blends with in-person care to deliver better outcomes at a lower cost. 

We are also focused on addressing provider shortages with our new locations. For example, we recently expanded to Los Angeles, which suffers from one of the most severe primary care shortages in the state–the average wait time for a primary care appointment is 42 days. Los Angeles is also on the brink of one the worst OB/GYN shortages in the country. Because of Tia’s collaborative and virtually integrated model, we’re able to cut this wait time down significantly and to improve the standard of care for women in these markets. 

Q: What attracted you to ACME?

Witte: I felt ACME’s mission to disrupt and reshape industries aligned well with Tia’s goal to solve the disconnects all women experience in their health care. After meeting Aike I saw how passionate she was to not only see Tia succeed commercially, but help us change the broken health care system. Aike has had her own personal health journey, firsthand understanding of the challenges we’re trying to tackle. From the beginning–even before they invested–the ACME team, especially Aike, has been a friend of Tia, following our company closely and always there to offer helpful counsel.

Q: How are you working with ACME currently?

Witte: Acme invested in our Series A and B financing as a syndicate partner and have been supporters of Tia and believers in the massive opportunity to redefine health care for women since our early days. Aike is a board observer and I work closely with Aike and Scott Stanford on strategic partnerships.

I have particularly benefited from Aike and Stanford’s willingness to roll up their sleeves and help us navigate complex business decisions, such as structuring financial deals with health systems. 

Q: What is your advice for other female founders at the beginning of their entrepreneurial journeys?

Witte: Remember that no one has a crystal ball into the future. Figuring out how to make decisions that balance short-term “survival” with long-term bets—with imperfect information—is the biggest challenge for entrepreneurs and leaders. My advice to new entrepreneurs is to think honestly about what you know and don’t know, where you’re confident and where you’re insecure–both with yourself and with your employees–and find partners that can support you in these areas. 

Q: What challenge are you most proud of overcoming in your career?

Witte: Creating a new definition of what, exactly, is “women’s health”–amongst consumers, health systems and investors. Women are not “niche” but control more than 80 percent of the $3.6 trillion U.S. health care dollars. Women are not just reproductive organs, but whole people who need and deserve care that’s connected–that means physical, mental and emotional. And that when we reimagine our health care system with women at the center of it, we can make health care work better for everyone–women, families and communities.