Mental health startups are raising spirits and venture capital


This post is by Alex Wilhelm from Fundings & Exits – TechCrunch

A spate of startups focused on mental health recently made enough noise as a group that they caught the eye of the Equity podcast crew. Sadly, the segment we’d planned to discuss this topic was swept away by a blizzard of IPO filings that piled up like fresh snow.

But in preparation, I reached out to CB Insights for new data on the mental health startup space that they were kind enough to supply. So this morning we’re going to dig into it.

Regular readers of The Exchange will recall that we last dug into overall wellness venture capital investment in August, noting that it was mental health startups inside the vertical that were seeing the most impressive results.


The Exchange explores startups, markets and money. Read it every morning on Extra Crunch, or get The Exchange newsletter every Saturday.


I wanted to know what had happened even more recently.

After all, Spring Health recently raised $76 million for its service that helps companies offer their workers mental health benefits, Mantra Health disclosed that it has raised $3.2 million to help with college-age mental health issues and Joon Care announced $3.5 million in new capital to “grow its remote therapy service for teens and young adults,” per GeekWire.

Sticking to theme, Headway just raised $32 million to build a platform that “helps people search for and engage therapists who accept insurance for payments,” according to our own reporting, and online therapy provider Talkspace is pursuing a sale — it looks like an active time in the mental health startup realm.

So, let’s shovel into the latest data and see if the signals that we are seeing really do reflect more total investment into mental health startups, or if we’re over-indexing off a few news items.

The state of mental health venture investing

To prepare the ground, let’s talk about the general state of healthcare investing in the venture capital world. Per CB Insights’ Q3 healthcare VC report, venture capital deal volume and venture capital dollar volume reached new record highs in the sector during Q3 2020.

The quarter’s 1,539 rounds and $21.8 billion in invested capital were each comfortably ahead of prior records set in Q2 2018 for round volume (1,431) and Q2 2020 for dollar volume ($18.4 billion) for healthcare startups.

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Passion Capital backs UK fertility workplace benefits provider, Fertifa


This post is by Natasha Lomas from Fundings & Exits – TechCrunch

UK-based Fertifa has bagged a £1 million (~$1.3M) seed to plug into a fertility-focused workplace benefits platform. Passion Capital is investing in the round, along with some unnamed strategic angel investors.

The August 2019-founded startup sells bespoke reproductive health and fertility packages to UK employers to offer as workplace benefits to their staff — drawing on the use of technologies like telehealth to expand access to fertility support and cater to rising demand for reproductive health services.

Challenges conceiving can affect around one in seven couples, per the UK’s National Health Service (NHS).

In recent years fertility startups have been getting more investor attention as VC firms cotton on to growing market. Employers have also responded, with tech industry workplaces among those offering fertility ‘perks’ to staff. Although the access-to-services issue can be more acute in the US — given substantial costs involved in obtaining treatments like IVF.

In the UK the picture is a little different, given that the country’s taxpayer funded NHS does fund some fertility treatments — meaning IVF can be free for couples to access. Although how much support couples get can depend on where in the country they live, with some NHS trusts funding more rounds of IVF than others. There can also be access restrictions based on factors such as a woman’s age and the length of time trying to conceive.

This means UK couples can run out of free fertility support before they’ve been able to conceive — pushing them towards paying for private treatment. Hence Fertifa spotting an opportunity for a workplace benefits model around reproductive health services.

It signed up its first employers this spring and summer, and says it now has a portfolio of corporate clients with an employee pool from a few hundreds to >10,000 — although it isn’t breaking out customer numbers. Rather it says its services are available to around 700,000 UK employees at this point.

“At Fertifa we want to make fertility services more widely accessible to people,” says founder and CEO Tony Chen. “Some levels of fertility services can be provided by the NHS but every single NHS trust is different with eligibility, requirements and resources, and so unfortunately it can too often be reduced to a ‘postcode lottery’.

“We believe that everyone should have easy access to information, resources, education and services relating to fertility — and that working with workplaces is one way to start. With our efforts and partnerships we hope to normalise the conversations about fertility at work, just as other forms of health are openly discussed and provided for.”

Passion Capital partner Eileen Burbidge — who is joining Fertifa’s board (along with Passion’s Malin Posern) — has been public about her own use of IVF and takes a very personal interest in the fertility space.

“The unfortunate fact is that over recent years, even though success rates have increased and of course more and more patients are exploring the benefits of IVF, NHS funding has been declining and the number of patients using the NHS for their first cycle has also been decreasing,” she tells TechCrunch.

“This doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s brilliant what we get from the NHS here in the UK, but there’s clearly a lot more which can be done to further increase accessibility and affordability — given less and less funding for the NHS in the face of increasing demand of both the NHS and private routes.”

Fertifa says its model is to provide direct care and support to employees — rather than being a broker or acting as part of a referral system. So it has two in-house clinicians at this stage (out of a team of 10-15 people). Although it also says it “partners” with clinicians and clinics across the UK. So it’s not doing everything in-house.

It offers what it bills as a “full range” of fertility and gynaecology services — from assisted reproductive technology such as IVF, IUI and more; fertility planning such as egg, sperm and embryo freezing to donor-assisted and third-party reproduction such as donor eggs and sperm; as well as surrogacy and adoption.

Its doctors, nurses and “fertility advocates” are there to provide a one-to-one care service to support patients throughout the process.

“We use technology in a number of ways and are ambitious about how it will help us to maintain an advantage over others in the sector and provide the best customer experience,” says Chen, noting it’s developed “a full end-to-end” app for patients to guide them through the various stages of their fertility journey.

“On the employer side we have a full employer portal as well which provides educational resources, support options and access to services for HR/People teams to use and share with their workforces. Additionally, we use telehealth to enable more efficient, convenient (particularly in the age of COVID-19 restrictions) and immediate consultations with clinicians and nurses. Finally, we are refining our machine learning algorithms to help drive more informed decision making for patients and clinicians alike.”

It’s not currently applying AI but says that over time its in-house medical experts will use artificial intelligence to aid decision-making — with the aim of reducing clinic visits, enhancing the patient experience and yielding better clinical pregnancy rates.

Chen points to the UK’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority having already made its data publicly available on more than 100,000 couples and their treatment and outcomes — suggesting such data-sets will underpin the development of new predictive models for fertility.

“With additional insight and data sources could more accurately predict probability of success for a patient — or the best type of treatment for them,” he adds.

While Fertifa’s current focus is UK expansion — targeting workplaces of all sizes and scale — it’s also got its eye on scaling overseas down the line. Although it will of course face more competition at that point, with the likes of Y Combinator backed Carrot already offering global fertility benefits packages for employers.

“Fertility and reproductive health is important to people all over the world,” says Chen. “Globally one in four women experience a miscarriage, every LGBT+ individual requires support to become a parent, and everyone needs to be increasingly empowered to take control of their reproductive health through fertility preservation treatment.”

Safe Workplaces


This post is by HBR.org from HBR.org

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Sidekick Health scores $20M for its gamified digital care platform


This post is by Natasha Lomas from Fundings & Exits – TechCrunch

Nordic digital therapeutics company, Sidekick Health, has closed a $20 million Series A led by pan-European VC Wellington Partners and healthcare focused VC Asabys Partners. Existing investors, Novator and Frumtak Ventures, also participated in the oversubscribed round.

The 2014-founded startup has built a gamified digital care platform that targets chronic and lifestyle disease management via digital nudges from a helmet-wearing cartoon helper — pushing patients toward relevant information to support more beneficial lifestyle choices (e.g. taking regular exercise, or cutting down on smoking), as well as offering help with patient treatment management, such as via digital reminders for taking medication and remote patient monitoring for clinicians.

Sidekick Health’s platform addresses multiple therapeutic areas — offering what’s described as ‘evidence-based’, custom gamified digital therapeutics packages for conditions including diabetes, ulcerative colitis and smoking cessation.

This year it’s also branched out to offer support for patients with COVID-19 — an acute (rather than chronic) condition, albeit one that’s created huge and pressing challenges for healthcare providers.

The pandemic is of course more generally driving demand for digital care and remote patient monitoring as healthcare providers look for tools to help manage patients off-site — providing another tailwind for Sidekick Health’s business.

And while its gamification approach might seem more immediately suited to younger, app-savvy users, since launching the platform it says it’s worked with patients who are teenagers all the way up to people well over 80 — and now believes there are few limits on who can tap in to its digital care, assuming it can nail designing for easy access. Its software is designed to be accessible via (and integrate with) a range of connected devices.

“Our market, digital heath in general and our part of it, which you can either call digital care or digital therapeutics, has been fast growing over the past few years,” says CEO and co-founder Dr Tryggvi Thorgeirsson. “Obviously with the pandemic the whole trend has just been accelerated. That means accelerated adoption by more or less all the stakeholders in the market. And maybe especially by payers and providers.

“If you look at providers — like hospitals, clinicians — they have of course by necessity had to increase their use of digital health tools due to the pandemic. So the market was very fast growing already but with the pandemic it has really accelerated. So our customer base has been growing quite sharply now in the past six to 12 months.”

Sidekick Health doesn’t break out customer numbers but says it’s working with “several” of the top global pharma companies at this stage. While the platform reaches around 30,000 patients across different therapeutic areas via its b2b customers — with Europe it’s biggest market so far.

The new funding is going towards “further growth”, per Thorgeirsson — “both in terms of expanding the product but also accelerating our growth in both Europe and into the US market”. “We’re investing funds into the growth instead of aiming for profitability at this point,” he adds. 

New conditions he says it’s set to expand into “over the next few months” include heart failure; oncology (supporting patients with different types of cancer); and a number of metabolic conditions.

Within two years he says he wants it to be able to address over 20 different types of chronic illness (plus “a few acute ones like COVID-19”). 

Thorgeirsson also notes that people who are dealing with chronic conditions often suffer from multiple conditions — so being flexible enough to manage patients with comorbidity has been a strong focus for the clinician-founded startup.

“Most of our work is in chronic, lifestyle-related conditions… but when COVID-19 hit we saw that all of this functionality we had built for chronic diseases in our view was quite fitting for COVID-19 as well,” he says, explaining that the platform has been used to support coronavirus patients with educational videos on symptoms and “how to cope with the anxieties of being in home isolation”, as well as offering a reporting conduit to clinical staff to remotely monitor COVID-19 patients.”

“We felt all of these [features] were relevant also for this acute condition, so here in our home country, Iceland, we offered help and were picked up by the national authorities to support with a nationwide program to remotely monitor and support patients with COVID-19. So it definitely can apply in certain acute conditions as well,” he adds.

In addition to expanding the range of conditions the platform can address, the Series A funding will go on more clinical research aimed at validating its approach.

Recent research it’s published includes a random control trial comparing full standard care for type 2 diabetes vs the same full standard care plus its platform on top. (On that study, Thorgeirsson says the addition of the digital tool in the care pathway led to “a very significant drop in average blood glucose” which “translates to about 16% less risk of death and about 30% less risk of serious complications like amputation and blindness”.)

“One of the things we’re going to be using this funding for is to vastly increase our medical and science operations — so launching multiple studies into multiple therapeutic areas,” he tells TechCrunch. “Every condition has different aspects that we do focus on. With cardio and metabolic conditions it’s things like improving weight control, blood glucose, cardiovascular risk factors. Whereas in others it might be more focusing on quality of life or fatigue or anxiety or depression.

“This summer we did feasibility testing with patients with heart failure. And we saw really exciting first indications that we significantly improved one of the main symptoms [shortness of breath]. We saw very significant improvement in those symptoms… We even had a case where the remote patient monitoring of the heart allowed the clinicians to pick up a silent ‘heart attack’ — and led to an immediate hospitalization of a patient.

“So in general what I’m excited about is to see the breadth of the applicability. We started out in the cardiovascular space but over the past two years have been really fast expanding into a bunch of new conditions.”

Sidekick Health co-founders, Dr Sam Oddsson and Dr Tryggvi Thorgeirsson (Photo credit: Sidekick Health)

The startup operates a b2b2c model in partnership with pharmaceuticals companies and healthcare providers who then offer the software to patients — recently inking deals with US pharma giant pfizer and German giant Bayer, with more touted in the pipeline.

A line on its website refers to the added “value” its platform can deliver for its business customers. Asked what that means in practice Thorgeirsson argues that digital therapeutics offers “multiple value levers” to pharma partners.

One key point to note here is that digital care/therapeutics tools continue to face regulatory barriers to being directly reimbursed by healthcare payers in many markets. So such businesses typically need to find alternative routes to market.

Working with big pharma is one option. Although some digital health startups are, conversely, aiming to more directly disrupt the pharmaceutical industry — i.e. by offering an alternative to taking drugs (such as in areas like sleep disorders). However Sidekick Health sees its platform as a treatment complement that can augment traditional drug therapies for a wide range of conditions. (While, on the flip side, it says it believes its chosen b2bc route is the best way to get its digital therapeutics in front of as many patients as possible.) 

“Improving patient outcomes has a direct financial benefit for our pharma customers,” says Thorgeirsson, discussing the value proposition Sidekick Health offers its b2b partners. “If you have a drug that might have cost anywhere between $1-$3 billion [to bring to market] and if we can then help improve the efficacy of treatment for patients that are receiving that therapy by adding our digital companion to that drug that has a direct financial benefit in terms of competitive standing for our pharma partners.

“Also when our pharma partners discuss reimbursement for their drug with payers improved patient outcomes of course are key — so it’s the improved patient outcomes, it’s the improved medication adherence (we know that’s a huge problem; about 300,000 people die every year due to lack of medication adherence which is something that we help with); and then of course very interesting insights from real world data that we are able to gather as well.”

The potential for data generated by digital therapeutics to be used to extend the life of existing drug patents also “comes into the discussion” here, per Thorgeirsson — when we ask whether part of its ‘value add’ is the potential to extend the profitable shelf-life of existing drugs by injecting new life into pharmaceutical patents via bolting on a novel digital companion.

“That is one of the things that is extremely exciting in our space — working much more closely with pharmaceutical companies creating combinations of molecule plus digital,” he confirms. “In some cases, yes, this can potentially expand exclusivity or patents. So that’s absolutely a really interesting part of what we see happening in the market.

“This combination where the molecule can impact certain areas of the disease and we impact others — and the combination is more powerful than either alone.”

Drug development and/or finding new applications for existing medications is another area where Sidekick Health reckons that data derived from its platform will be able to aid pharma outcomes.

“The way we see it is that any new drug that’s being developed, in the not too distant future, most likely will have a digital companion when they go to market,” says CMO Gulli Arnason. “[It’s about] getting in early and launching something with a pharmaceutical company that’s augmented by a digital companion — as well as a more defensive play, around margins and patents. So these two areas are extremely important for pharmaceutical companies.”

As for the healthcare payer market, that’s “still maturing” in its response to digital therapeutics, as Thorgeirsson puts it. (Again, though, the coronavirus pandemic is kicking open doors as societies hurry to adopt digital tools to scale to meet the spike in demand for remote care.)

“What we feel is important also is that current value levers which are not dependent on direct reimbursements from payers because we know that the payer market is still maturing — really interesting things happening there but still kind of developing,” he adds.

On the competitive landscape, Thorgeirsson argues that Sidekick’s platform-play is relatively rare — and sets the business apart from digital therapeutics startups with a more niche focus. (One platform competitor he does name-check is France’s Voluntis; a business that’s been working on ’embedding connectivity into therapeutics’ for considerably longer, though with less of a focus on gamification.)

“There are companies that focus more narrowly on certain elements — like only on medication adherence or only on one or two specific conditions but we have this different approach where we believe it’s absolutely key to have a platform approach. And that’s really both when you look at the patient side — patients might have two or more conditions, they might have obesity, type 2 diabetes and smoke, and you don’t want one solution per condition; you want a platform that can tackle all of them,” he suggests, adding: “In general we don’t see strong competition when you combine the gamification, the outcomes that we’re showing and the platform approach.”

The platform approach aligns Sidekick Health with the needs of its target business partners.

“Our business partners have the same [priorities],” argues Thorgeirsson. “They have a portfolio of therapeutic areas that they address and they really don’t want one vendor per therapeutic area but a platform that can tackle across the spectrum. And when it come to the platform breadth we don’t really see a large number of competitors with that size of a platform.”

Commenting on the Series A in a statement, Dr Regina Hodits, managing partner at VC firm Wellington, said: “At Wellington, we are all about improving healthcare for all stakeholders, patients, practitioners, and payors alike. Sidekick’s team has done a remarkable job of creating a product platform with the potential to achieve this aim on a global scale. We are very excited to support the company with their plans for significant growth.”

“We are impressed by the way this team has been able to put together a technology platform delivering evidence-based therapeutic programs, that are effective, adaptive but also valuable for their commercial partners,” added Josep LI. Sanfeliu, managing partner and co-founder of Asabys, in another supporting statement.

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MindLabs raises £1.4 million for its new platform, a “Peloton for mental health”


This post is by Catherine Shu from Fundings & Exits – TechCrunch

Ideally, mental wellness should be considered part of a healthy daily routine, like exercise. But even exercise is difficult to turn into a regular habit. Peloton addressed physical fitness by combining smart stationary bikes with live classes and community features to create an engaging experience. Now a new startup, MindLabs, is taking a similar approach to mental wellness.

Based in London, MindLabs announced today it has raised £1.4 million (about USD $1.82 million) in pre-seed investment led by Passion Capital, with participation from SeedCamp, as well as several founders of British consumer tech startups: Alex Chesterman (Cazoo and Zoopla); Neil Hutchinson (Forward Internet Group); Steve Pankhurst (FriendsReunited); James Hind (Carwow); and Jack Tang (Urban).

MindLabs was founded earlier this year by Adnan Ebrahim and Gabor Szedlak, who previously launched and ran Car Throttle, an online media and community startup that was acquired by Dennis Publishing last year. Ebrahim told TechCrunch that MindLabs’ goal is to “make taking care of your mental health as normal as going to the gym.”

Its platform will launch next year, first with a mobile app that combines live videos from mental health professionals who lead meditation and mindfulness sessions, and features to help users track their stress levels. The full platform will also include an EEG headband, called “Halo,” that measures signals, like heart and respiration rates, that can help show users how effective their sessions are.

Going from CarThrottle, sometimes described as “a BuzzFeed for cars” to mental wellness might seem like a big leap, but Ebrahim said their experience “running a media company in a tough market with a young, millennial workforce” inspired him and Szedlak to think more about the issue.

MindLabs founders Gabor Szedlak and Adnan Ebrahim

MindLabs founders Gabor Szedlak and Adnan Ebrahim

“We witnessed firsthand how there was a complete lack of investment in helping this generation with their mental health in a way that they’re used to: a community product that is mobile-first and video-led,” Ebrahim said.

“Alongside that, we had to find ways to deal with managing our own mental health given the stresses that can come when running a fast-paced, venture-backed company. And when we saw the alarming statistics in young adult suicide rates and depression, we realized that finding a solution for our own problems would help millions of others, too.”

The two left Dennis Publishing to begin work on MindLabs at the end of January. During the next few months, including time spent in COVID-19 lockdown, they began researching and developing initial concepts for the platform.

“It’s fair to say that the pandemic did end up altering the course of MindLabs,” Ebrahim said. “For example, we built more real-time community features into the app as a result of the isolation and loneliness we are all now facing as a result of lockdown. We really want to make sufferers feel less alone during the hard times, but with the added convenience now of being able to watch our videos at home.

“This has already become the new normal when it comes to physical fitness, with companies like Peloton exploding in growth, and we see the same trend happening with mental wellness, too,” he added.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also been described as a mental health crisis, and downloads of meditation and mindfulness apps like Calm, Headspace and Relax: Master Your Destiny, have grown as people try to deal with anxiety, isolation and depression at home.

Two of the main ways MindLabs’ platform differentiates from other mental wellness apps is the combination of its video classes and EEG headband. The videos will initially range in length from 10 to 40 minutes and, like Peloton’s classes, will be available on livestream or in pre-recorded, on-demand sessions.

Instead of categorizing videos by technique (for example, meditation, breathing or visualization), MindLabs decided to sort them into issues that users want to cope with, like anxiety, relationships, motivation or addiction. For example, meditation classes may include ones focused on “Overcoming COVID-19 Anxiety” or “Coping With Stress At Work.”

Community features will be linked to the classes: the number of concurrent users in a class will be displayed, along with a live feed showing subscriber achievements, like streaks or number of minutes spent in a “calm state,” that other people can react to for positive reinforcement.

Halo was developed with a hardware specialist that Ebrahim said has seven years of building and distributing medical grade wearables.

“Most importantly our headset will be going through the rigor of ISO 13485 so we can ensure the product is of the highest quality and the data we gather is the most accurate,” he added. “We want to make this technology accessible, so we expect the price of the Halo to be comparable to, say, an Apple Watch.”

Other EEG headbands, including products from Muse and Emotiv, have been on the market for a while. In MindLabs’ case, its headband will help users visualize data before, during and after their classes, including information about their brain waves, heart rates and muscle tension, and saved in the app so they can track their progress.

Turning mental wellness into a habit

One of the biggest challenges that all mental wellness apps need to address is user engagement. It can be hard staying motivated to use a self-directed mental health app when someone is already stressed, depressed or very busy. On the other hand, when they feel better, they might stop checking in.

Ebrahim sees this as a major opportunity for MindLabs, and its EEG headband and data visualization features will play a major role. “Even though there was been a proliferation of mental health apps, retention has proven difficult. But we think that is because these apps truly don’t understand their users,” he said.

“With the data we’re able to show, not just through the Halo but through syncing with Apple HealthKit, we can show our subscribers a positive progression of their mental health, similar to how you can see your weight change on a scale, or improvement in heart rate variability in an app. This helps build a powerful habit because we can finally help to close the loop when it comes to improving mental fitness.”

Participating in live classes provides accountability, too, he added. “The act of scheduling a class and tuning in with thousands of others is a powerful force, similar to having a personal trainer in the gym making sure you turn up and workout.”

MindLabs also plans to build communities around its instructors. During livestreams, instructors will welcome new subscribers and mention user achievements. After each workout, users will get a results screen they can share, similar to screenshots from fitness apps like Strava or Nike Training Club.

In terms of protecting personal privacy, Ebrahim said MindLabs is “firmly against any form of data commercialization.” Instead, it will monetize through monthly or yearly subscriptions, and user data collected through Halo or the app will only be used to make personalized content recommendations.

In a statement about Passion Capital’s investment in MindLabs, partner Eileen Burbidge said, “We’re incredibly excited to be working with MindLabs as they transform the way we look after our minds. Mindfulness is more important now than ever and we know that Adnan and Gabor’s commitment to best in class content, quality production and unparalleled user experience means they’re the best to bring this platform to market.”

 

Founder Q&A with Clara Fernandez – Co-Founder of Rosita


This post is by Kate McGinn from Seedcamp

When Clara Fernandez began working at her family’s rehabilitation clinic, she had no idea it would take her down the startup path. But after seeing the educational gap seniors had about healthy living, she teamed up with her husband Juan Cartagena to co-found Rosita, a longevity coach for seniors.

In the midst of their app launch, we sat down with Clara (albeit virtually) to ask her a few questions about the longevity sector and her ambitions at Rosita.

Clara Fernandez, Co-Founder of Rosita

What is Rosita?

Rosita is a longevity coach for seniors. Our goal is to help seniors define their longevity strategy for the next ten years. The idea is to help seniors increase their healthy life expectancy, especially knowing and understanding the biology behind their ageing process and how they have to start implementing those actions today with the help of our application. 

How would you describe your mission?

We want to increase healthy life expectancy or years full of energy.

That’s a grand vision. Do you, at times, feel like today’s discussion about longevity, at times, emphasises life expectancy over quality of life?

There is a lot of controversy here. Actually, what most of the scientists think is that longevity is increasing healthy life expectancy. Because the only way to increase life expectancy is to delay the diseases related to ageing. It’s about delaying the diseases related to ageing. And because you’re not dying from those diseases, you will live longer and hence healthier.

No one is investigating life extension without reducing disease. They are completely correlated.

You’ve been heads-down working on Rosita for almost a year now. How did you start your journey into longevity?

A decade ago, I started participating in my family’s practice which is focused on back and knee pain rehabilitation. I started realizing that one of the areas that had the most impact in the health of our patients was education. And I realised that even though the healthcare system had evolved in so many ways to treat complicated pathologies, they had not evolved in a way that could teach the patient what was happening to their bodies. This is why, six years ago, I ended up converting the clinic into the Longevity School. Alongside a 20-person staff, we teach more than 500 seniors a day and have had 15,000 seniors stay an average of 10 days in our facilities. 

The Longevity School is where we gained all the expertise to build Rosita effectively.

Say I was a 65-year old senior. How would I interact with Rosita?

The first thing we will have you do is a mixture of classes and a doctor assessment. The thing that defines us is that we teach users why things are important. We don’t have a questionnaire where you fill in your data and then we plug you a plan with tasks. We are going to give you a proper longevity educational programme so that you understand the underlying biology behind ageing. Then, we start defining your individualised plan.

You’re going to have a daily and weekly plan of activities that are going to be a combination of classes, activities, and workshops. The main thing here is that we are going to start working on the problems you have today. When we have created the habit to address those problems, we’ll be moving you forward into the field of longevity. This is the wider picture of our strategy.

Rosita designs all its exercise classes in-house, correct?

Yes, we are taping them ourselves. We are defining our own exercise methodology to ensure that we bring science and entertainment together. We have ballet and introduction to Sevillanna. We do karate and crossfit for seniors. We take time to actually map what is interesting to you and what your personal goals are.

I assume designing an app for seniors as a non-senior can be tough. What are some of your main challenges?

The senior market is not a sexy industry for most entrepreneurs. But seniors are a huge market and there are many potential needs to be satisfied. If we are able to solve the technological barriers and engage users actively we could become their fifth app. We joke but they use Google, YouTube, WhatsApp, and the phone app. And maybe they have a sporadic fifth app they don’t really engage with. When they start engaging with us, we have lots of potential.

You just launched Rosita’s coaching app. What are your immediate goals as you gear up for this launch?

Right now, we have created a specific area of exercise for coronavirus. We are launching in collaboration with 100 town halls that want to distribute Rosita to their senior community because they had to close their physical facilities. 

So we are planning both an offline launch with all the towns that are participating in the network and an online launch through all the traditional startup press. 

For more information, visit holarosita.com