Erin Quick and her adopted son and daughter. (Courtesy photo of Quick)
After Erin Quick and her husband tried having their own baby for four years – including $ 70,000 for fertility treatments and three miscarriages – they turned to adoption.
“It felt like falling off a cliff,” said Quick. The couple struggled to navigate a fragmented industry with small nonprofits.
“There is no place where I can start. There is no trademark in adoption. There is no clear way, ”she said.
There are agencies that connect families with expectant mothers, but it can cost $ 40,000 to $ 60,000 and it can take two years to set up an adoption for a child. Quick couldn’t bear to wait that long or cover these costs.
So the couple took an increasingly popular alternative route: looking for a self-match on the internet. Avoiding criminals cheating on desperate families, they were in a Michigan hospital within a month where they met and adopted their son. Three years later, after four months of searching the same approach, they were able to adopt a little girl from Texas.
The news of their success spread, and friends and friends of friends held out their hands, eager for guidance. Quick understood that the adoption and childcare sector had an unmet need and business opportunity of $ 15 billion.
A year ago she founded PairTree, a platform that connects families willing to adopt with expectant mothers. The three-person company is based on Bainbridge Island, west of Seattle, and participates in the current cohort of Techstars Seattle.
PairTree launched its services in July and has 800 families seeking adoptions and 175 expectant mothers on the site. You have made eight games possible so far.
The website quickly compares it to a dating platform. Families pay a monthly fee of $ 75 and publish a profile on PairTree. Expectant mothers use the tool for free. The website contains a proprietary personality test that helps mothers-to-be select families based on their interests and passions – an important consideration for the women.
“Expectant mothers can be very selective about who to choose,” said Quick.
Erin Quick, CEO of PairTree. (PairTree photo)
While that sounds like it could lead to discrimination, Quick said that in the perverted world of adoption, their platform actually supports a broader profile of family adoption. Many adoption organizations have religious affiliations, and 11 states allow adoption agencies to refuse to work with certain clients, including gay couples or single mothers. The high costs associated with adoption agencies also exclude families with more modest means. Quick said this leads to wealthier white couples adopting racially diverse babies.
PairTree does not provide legal services required for adoptions, and does not conduct adoptive family screening performed by licensed social workers. The website uses identity verification software to protect itself from scammers posing as expectant mothers.
Adopting PairTree to find a birth mother can cut costs to about $ 15,000 while reducing the time to adoption to about six to nine months.
The overall goal is to create an open, emotionally supportive experience around adoption, Quick said. The site shares the number of expectant mothers on the platform and lets a family know if their profile piques interest.
“We can do a world of good if we are successful at it,” she said.
The team: Quick, the CEO, previously co-founded a Seattle-based brand marketing company. Justin Friberg, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer, is a startup veteran and former CTO of Record360 software company in Seattle.
PairTree’s advisors are Jim Huffman, author and CEO of GrowthHit, and Kim Kaplan, who helped found the dating app PlentyofFish, which was acquired for $ 575 million in 2015.
Financing: The startup has plans to apply for start-up funding in the spring after Techstars graduation.
In late 2020, PairTree partnered with service provider Carrot Fertility to become the first self-adapting adoption platform available to employees with Carrot.
Justin Friberg, Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder of PairTree. (PairTree photo)
Competition: Other routes for self-adaptation include Facebook groups and companies like AdoptMatch, Adoptimist, and Adoption.com. PairTree aims for a 7: 1 ratio of families to expectant mothers, while other sites offer a much lower ratio, Quick said.
What’s next: The website is creating a mobile app which is the technology of choice for expectant mothers.
Quick plans to expand into related services, including assisting in connecting families with surrogate mothers and partnering with reproductive clinics that provide egg and sperm donation services. While these clinics allow families to choose the physical characteristics of donors, their platform’s personality tools could provide additional information for selection, according to Quick.
Support beyond adoptions: Quick would like PairTree to provide more comprehensive support to families and birth mothers, including creating tools to keep both sides of the adoption process in touch over time. The startup also wants to develop a feature that allows born mothers to share their medical history so that adoptive families can be informed of conditions that could be inherited. She chose the name PairTree to evoke the connection of family trees through adoption.
Quick is also committed to helping birth mothers. “Adoption is completely wrong,” she said in favor of family adoption. To help fix the imbalance, 5% of the platform’s subscription fee goes to organizations that help birth mothers, such as the Lifetime Healing Foundation.