2nd Place
By Justin Martin

(FORTUNE Small Business) – WHAT IT DOES: Helps young women freeze their eggs

FOUNDERS: Nadia Campbell, 30; Christina Jones, 34 (Tatyana Daniels, 29, Yu-Jin Kim, 29, and Laetitia Pichot de Cayeux, 26, were also once on the team.)

DATE FOUNDED: March 2002

STARTUP CAPITAL: $500,000 from Jones

GOAL: To build a revolutionary service business

By the time Christina Jones was in her 30s, she had co-founded Trilogy, an Austin software company that posted $200 million in revenues in 2003, had served as president of another successful startup, and had enrolled in Harvard Business School for further entrepreneurial seasoning. What she hadn't found time for: a serious relationship. During one of Jones's visits home, her mother remarked over dinner that none of her four adult daughters had children yet. "You girls should freeze your eggs," her mother said.

Jones did some research, learned that freezing eggs was becoming increasingly viable, and saw the seeds of a business. By March 2002 she had teamed up with four friends at Harvard and developed a plan for a company called Extend Fertility. The business would offer exclusive rights to an egg-freezing technique as well as marketing expertise to 400 fertility clinics across the U.S. The clinics would charge about $13,000 for egg retrieval and freezing, with Extend Fertility keeping a healthy percentage of the fee. There would be an annual storage fee of $500, of which Extend Fertility would also keep a portion. Thawing the eggs, fertilizing them, and implanting the resulting embryos would add roughly $5,000 more. The plan came in first at Harvard Business School's business plan competition in April before winning second place in the FSB competition.

Just a few months after Jones's graduation, the company has opened an office in Boston, plans an office in Orange County, Calif., and has obtained exclusive U.S. marketing rights to a European egg-freezing technique that has produced most of the 100 or so babies born in the world from frozen eggs. Extend Fertility has already signed up several fertility clinics, two of which are beginning to market its services. While expensive, egg freezing has the potential to stop the biological clock. The most important determinant of fertility is the age of a woman's eggs. Cryopreservation changes the whole equation. A woman might freeze her eggs at 30 but start a family at age 37 with the more fertile eggs of her younger self. "Women have made such advances in educational attainment and the workplace," says Jones. "This is the last frontier."

Still, Extend Fertility faces some big challenges. Several of the nation's fertility clinics have already developed egg-freezing formulas. Meanwhile ViaCell, a company headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., plans to launch a service that is similar to Extend Fertility's. "There's definitely room for more than one player," insists Jones.

Extend Fertility's revenue will be negligible in 2004, but Jones expects to turn a profit as early as 2005. According to her research there is a vast potential market for her service: five million single and childless American women in their 30s, not to mention women who might elect to have the procedure at an earlier age. Jones says that Extend Fertility plans to reach young women by holding seminars for women's professional organizations and soliciting referrals from obstetricians and gynecologists. Because Extend Fertility is a low-overhead service business, Jones figures she needs to beat the competition to only a sliver of the potential market—maybe 500 patients a year—to become profitable. "I absolutely believe this makes sense as a service," says Pamela Madsen, the American Fertility Association' s executive director. "In the future, egg freezing may become an integral part of women's lives."

Indeed, Jones elected to become Extend Fertility's very first customer. She recently married, and she plans to start a family within a few years. But as a precaution she has frozen her eggs. Twelve of them are now waiting patiently, suspended in tiny glass tubes, surrounded by liquid nitrogen, at --321° F. —JUSTIN MARTIN