On Wednesday, direct-to-consumer weight loss startup Calibrate announced $5.1 million in seed funding led by Kirsten Green at Forerunner Ventures.
Calibrate assigns users to a doctor and a coach to develop a solution based on the patient’s metabolic health by incorporating medication and behavior therapy instead of the historically standard calories-in-calories-out approach to treating weight control.
Founder and CEO Isabelle Kenyon told Business Insider that patients are getting used to interacting with doctors online as coronavirus-induced shutdowns drag on, and that patients tend to be more honest on digital surveys than face-to-face interactions with healthcare providers.
After helping found pharmacy startup Capsule, Kenyon realized that consumer healthcare was a particularly tricky industry in which to fundraise because of competing interests from pure consumer investors and pure healthcare investors.
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The hits to consumer healthcare keep coming as coronavirus-induced shutdowns continue to drag on, patients delay non-essential care, and niche clinics and massive hospitals alike struggle with budget shortfalls. But as incumbents struggle to navigate the new normal, startups are rapidly filling the spaces left behind.
That’s especially true for direct-to-consumer healthcare, according to Calibrate founder and CEO Isabelle Kenyon. In the span of just a few months, patients have largely adopted and become comfortable with telemedicine and on-demand treatments in an effort to avoid potentially dangerous doctors’ offices and waiting rooms.
“I think everyone had to do it to survive over the last 3 months,” Kenyon said of the healthcare industry’s move to telemedicine. “You’ve seen the next generation of startups, like Roman and Hims, they did great things to help incumbents get there. If you move the incentives, people will move with them.”
On Wednesday, Kenyon herself is entering the fray with Calibrate, which announced $5.1 million in seed funding led by Forerunner Ventures’ Kirsten Green. The direct-to-consumer weight loss startup pairs patients with both a doctor and a coach in a two-tiered approach to weight loss that combines medication and behavior therapy in a year-long treatment program.
It’s a novel approach to an industry that has long struggled with overpromising and under-delivering results for patients, many of whom struggle to maintain the strict lifestyle changes to continue seeing results, Kenyon said. She structured Calibrate’s program to go beyond the more traditional calories-in-calories out approach that has underwhelmed patients and care providers alike for decades.
“We know now from watching COVID and how it affects us that Americans are more vulnerable than any other population and that obesity is the number one underlying factor for Americans, which is a signifier of poor metabolic health,” Kenyon said. “For us it was about asking, what hasn’t worked so far? Why isn’t traditional weight loss working?”
Instead, Calibrate focuses on treating patients’ underlying metabolic health, which controls everything from cholesterol levels and stress reactions to emotional health and weight management. Generally, Kenyon said a patient’s metabolism wants to maintain the highest weight possible, and can actively work against other techniques like dieting by slowing …read more
Source:: Business Insider