Lia Diagnostics, the Philly start-up behind what it says is the first truly discreet and flushable home pregnancy test, raised $2.6 million in private equity funding.
In keeping with the company's reputation for discretion and privacy, Lia's chief executive Bethany Edwards declined to comment or disclose who the investors were.
According to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission this week, Lia is seeking to sell an additional $400,000 to become a leader in the emerging FemTech space.
The company reported no sales this year. But last December, the Food and Drug Administration approved the test for over-the-counter sales. Hours after the approval, Lia won first place and 42,000 euros — about $50,000 — at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin, beating out 15 other companies in a start-up pitch competition.
Lia is engineered out of biodegradable paper — not plastic — and is ultra thin and lightweight. The product is pitched as "the only test you won't find in the trash" where "snoopy roommates or in-laws can find it," the company said. The test reacts to urine to determine pregnancy. Lia claims the test delivers results in minutes and is 99 percent accurate.
According to the company, 2 million pounds of plastic and digital pregnancy tests end up in landfills every year in the U.S. The global market for home pregnancy tests is expected to exceed $1 billion by 2020, Edwards said in an interview last year.
Edwards has estimated the test will cost $10 to $18, comparable to other disposable products, when it hits store shelves.
Edwards is a graduate of the Integrated Product Design Master's program at the University of Pennsylvania. It was there that she first conceived of an environmentally sustainable pregnancy test. Classmate Anna Couturier-Simpson and Penn faculty adviser Sarah Rottenberg liked the idea so much that they joined Edwards as cofounders of the company. The name of the product, "Lia," is a play on the scientific term "lateral immunoassay," a type of rapidly readable strip test.