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Ambitious Manchester start-up moves into first new home after support from Forward Role

Steve Thompson, Kobi McCardle and Brian Johnson at Dr Fertility’s new office

An ambitious Manchester start-up which offers crucial fertility and family planning products and information – and was launched while its two founders were on maternity leave – has moved into its very first office.

Friends Kobi McCardle, 39, and Lucy Buckley, 36, have been running Dr Fertility from the ‘Incubator Hub’ set up to help new businesses by Manchester recruiter Forward Role.

But after support and business advice from Forward Role founder Steve Thompson and director Brian Johnson, the year-old company has gone from strength-to-strength and has made the leap into larger premises in the WeWorkManchester building, in Spinningfields.

Kobi said: “I knew Steve and Brian because Forward Role placed me in my last job. Dr Fertility hadn’t been going long and I was talking to Brian and saying that we needed office space but couldn’t afford anything of our own yet.

“He offered some of their space in their office in Manchester city centre and we snapped their hands off. We were there for about three months and it was a fantastic environment for a start-up like ours.

“It wasn’t just the office space that we got. Steve and Brian are so well connected in Manchester and they were always on hand to offer really useful advice. There’s such a vibrant atmosphere in their office and it was the perfect place for us to grow our business.”

Steve, who launched Forward Role ten years ago, added: “It’s tough setting up in business and I think it’s incredibly important to find your own space and identity as early as possible in the journey. As an SME it really does give you an extra level of credibility and confidence.

“When I launched Forward Role I was lucky enough to be offered support and work space from a couple of kind hearted entrepreneurs so it’s been fantastic to give something back.

“We certainly love the concept of the Dr Fertility brand and Kobi and Lucy are people that we really believe in.

“That combination means we’re confident that Dr Fertility is one to watch in the eCommerce space. We’re going to miss having them around the Forward Role office but we’re really proud to have helped the business get to this stage.”

Dr Fertility was launched in April 2017 after former flatmates Kobi and Lucy had babies within four weeks of each other.

After they witnessed friends and family facing fertility issues they began researching and found it to be a much wider issue than either had imagined.

With Kobi’s 17 years’ digital experience, including her most recent role as Ecommerce Director at AO, combined with Lucy’s 15 years’ pharmacy and pharmaceutical background, they decided to make it their mission to help raise awareness and educate people on how they can improve their chances of conceiving.

“Around one in seven couples have fertility issues but there is still a terrible fertility taboo,” Kobi said.

“People who are struggling to conceive often say they feel very lonely because they don’t feel like they are able to openly discuss it with family and friends. The path to parenthood can be an incredibly painful journey for many people and we need to recognise both the emotional and physical challenges they face.

“It makes us sad that people often feel more comfortable talking about their sex life than they do about fertility.

“Our initial focus was developing expert fertility content and offering trusted products that help people to get pregnant, however we started to receive requests from consumers who were looking for natural and hormone-free alternative forms of contraception and family planning.

“As a result we are now expanding our product range and content to help people both planning and preventing pregnancy.”

The new office is a far cry from the early days of the business, where Kobi and Lucy juggled their work with new born babies.

They also split the stock between their homes and packed all the products themselves.

“The early days were tough,” Kobi added. “We spent many long nights packing up products ourselves with very little sleep. Now we’re using a fulfilment house to pack the products and we have our own office!

“Going forward, products are going to be just one part of the mix and we have big plans for our digital offering.”