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Main article: Insurance

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Noom competitor OurPath rebrands as Second Nature, raises $10M Series A

22:27 | 18 February

Back in 2018 OurPath emerged as a startup in the UK tackling the problem of diabetes. The company helped customers tackle the disease, and raised a $3m round of funding by combining advice from health experts with tracking technology via a smartphone app to help people build healthy habits and lose weight.

Now rebranded as Second Nature, it’s raised a fresh $10m in Series A funding.

New investors include Uniqa Ventures, the venture capital fund of Uniqa, a European insurance group, and the founders of mySugr, the digital diabetes management platform which was acquired by health giant Roche .

The round also secured the backing of existing investors including Connect and Speedinvest, two European seed funds, and Bethnal Green Ventures, the early-stage Impact investor, as well as angels including Taavet Hinrikus, founder of Transferwise.

This new injection takes the total investment in the company to $13m.

Competitors to the company include Weight Watchers and Noom, which provides a similar program and has raised $114.7M.

Second Nature claims to have a different, more intensive and personalized, approach to create habit change. The startup claims 10,000 of its participants revealed an average weight loss of 5.9kg at the 12-week mark. Separate peer-reviewed scientific data published by the company showed that much of this weight-loss is sustained at the 6-month and 12-month mark

Under its former guise as OurPath, the startup was the first ‘lifestyle change program’ to be commissioned by the NHS for diabetes management.

Second Nature was founded in 2015 by Chris Edson and Mike Gibbs, former healthcare strategy consultants, who designed the program to provide people with personalized support in order to make lifestyle changes.

Participants receive a set of ‘smart’ scales and an activity tracker that links with the app, allowing them to track their weight loss progress and daily step count. They are placed in a peer support group of 15 people starting simultaneously. Each group is coached by a qualified dietitian or nutritionist, who provides participants with daily 1:1 advice, support and motivation to via the app. Throughout the 12-week program, people have access to healthy recipes and daily articles covering topics like meal planning, how to sleep better, and overcoming emotional eating.

Gibbs said: “Our goal as Second Nature is to solve obesity. We need to rise above the confusing health misinformation to provide clarity about what’s really important: changing habits. Our new brand and investment will help us realize that.”

Philip Edmondson-Jones, Investment Manager at Beringea, who led the investment and joins the Board of Directors of Second Nature said: “Healthcare systems are struggling to cope with spiraling rates of obesity and associated illnesses, which are projected to cost the global economy $1.2tn annually by 2025. Second Nature’s pioneering approach to lifestyle change empowers people to address these conditions.”

 


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Innovaccer wants to be the service that unifies all healthcare data

05:30 | 14 February

The holy grail for technology companies working in the healthcare industry is becoming the gateway for all healthcare data.

Big legacy providers like Epic and Cerner are trying to reach out to hospital networks to hoover up all of their data. Google is interested in it. Salesforce is interested in it. Everyone wants to be the resource that organizes and manages healthcare data for physicians and hospital providers — everyone including the San Francisco-based startup Innovaccer, which has raised $70 million in new financing to finance its mission.

The new investment from firms including Steadview Capital, Tiger Global, Dragoneer, Westbridge Capital, the Abu Dhabi investment firm Mubadala Capital, and Microsoft’s corporate investment arm, M12.

These are deep-pocketed investors for whom money is no object, but Innovaccer has shown a fair bit of traction among hospitals and health systems with its data analysis and management platform.

The company’s software pulls from datasets including those generated by Cerner and Epic’s healthcare records, as well as insurance companies and pharmacies to create a more holistic view of a patient, the company says.

Since its launch in 2014, Innovaccer has provided a single source or healthcare information for 3.8 million patients and saved healthcare systems more than $400 million, the company said.

“Healthcare still needs a lot of work to become patient-centered and connected by organizing information and making it more accessible. It is really important to make patient data seamlessly available to all providers along the patient’s care journey,” said Abhinav Shashank, the co-founder and chief executive at Innovaccer, in a statement. “We have been fortunate to work with transformational healthcare initiatives that our amazing customers are engaged in. The vision of helping healthcare work as one needs a connected and open technology framework. We are excited to be at the forefront of providing the tech platform for our customers to drive that change.”

Its technology relies on over 200 APIs to take data from health plans, primary care providers, pharmacies, labs and hospitals and serves that data to 25,000 care providers. The company hopes to take that number ot over 100 million healthcare records and 500,000 caregivers over the next several years.

It’s a lofty goal, but one that appeals to the Ravi Mehta, the founder of the $2.5 billion hedge fund Steadview Capital.

“By using their connected care framework coupled with their leading-edge data aggregation and analytics platform, they are unifying patient records and enabling care teams to coordinate patient care at a new level,” said Mehta. “We believe this will achieve greater efficiencies, enable better care and reduce overall healthcare spend in the years to come.” 

 


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Recommendations for fintech startups navigating the procurement process

22:15 | 7 February

Marc Gilman Contributor
Marc Gilman is general counsel and VP of compliance at Theta Lake. He is also an adjunct professor at Fordham University School of Law.

The expanding scope of fintech has been well documented in these digital pages. Payments, investing, financial planning and lending often spring to mind as “classic” fintech startups, but other business models like regtech, compliance, human resources and marketing are on the ascent.

For passionate and talented founders, the tireless pursuit of building innovative technology is critical and fundamental. That said, to be successful in financial services, significant time and effort needs to be dedicated to other business fundamentals: corporate setup, privacy and security. The financial services customer base presents unique challenges for fintech startups as the regulatory and operational requirements for third-party vendor assessment and management are, in comparison to most other industries, brutal. Issues that might go overlooked during the early stages of product design and team-building could turn into obstacles during the sales process.

Understanding the dynamics of the financial services procurement process is essential if you want to negotiate it as quickly and seamlessly as possible. And before diving head-first into the development of your killer fintech app, consider the following questions:

  • Is my technical architecture secure?
  • Who is responsible for cybersecurity in the organization?

 


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Why VCs are dumping money into insurance marketplaces

20:00 | 2 February

Following our look at why so many startups are building OKR-focused software and why venture capitalists are pouring capital into their efforts, today we’re asking a similar question about insurance marketplace startups.

This month, Insurify raised a $23 million Series A that TechCrunch covered here. And even more recently, Gabi, a competitor, raised $27 million. The two rounds added up to $50 million for the insurance marketplace startup space in less than two weeks.

But there was more to come. Late in the wek, Policygenius, another participant in the space, added $100 million to its accounts. With that round, the total venture tally for insurance marketplace startups rose to $150 million for the month of January.

What the hell is going on, and why has so much been invested in the space recently? Let’s try to answer those questions by looking at who competes in the space, how much they have raised individually, and then unpack what has attracted all the fresh capital. Hint: As always, it’s about market size and economics.

Competition

 


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Kenyan logistics startup Sendy raises $20M round backed by Toyota

08:16 | 29 January

Africa’s logistics startup space has gained another multi-million dollar round with global backing.

Kenyan company Sendy — with an on-demand platform that connects clients to drivers and vehicles for goods delivery — has raised a $20 million Series B led by Atlantica Ventures.

Toyota Tsusho Corporation, a trade and investment arm of Japanese automotive company Toyota, also joined the round.

Sendy’s raise comes within six months of Nigerian trucking logistics startup Kobo360’s $20 million Series A backed by Goldman Sachs. In November, East African on-demand delivery venture Lori Systems hauled in $30 million supported by Chinese investors.

Those companies have plotted Africa expansions into each other’s markets and broader Africa. With its latest round, Sendy ups its competitive stance in the continent’s startup logistics space. The company plans to expand to West Africa in 2020, CEO Mesh Alloys told TechCrunch on a call.

Alloys co-founded Sendy in 2015 with Kenyans Evanson Biwott and Don Okoth and American Malaika Judd. The startup currently has offices in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda with 5000 vehicles on its platform that move all sorts of goods, according to Alloys.

Sendy offers services for e-commerce, enterprise, and freight delivery for a client list that includes Unilever, DHL, Maersk, Safaricom and African online retailer Jumia.

The company uses an asset-free model, with an app that coordinates contract drivers who own their own vehicles, while confirming deliveries, creating performance metrics and managing payment.

On Sendy’s business and revenue model, “We take a percentage of each transaction. We also facilitate services for drivers like insurance, health-insurance, vehicle financing, vehicle servicing and fuel credits,” said Alloys.

The company plans to use its Series B funding for new hires and to upgrade its tech. “Getting better operational efficiency is super key so we’ll invest…in engineering teams and data teams…and deploying talent to improve the services that we give our customers,” said Alloys.

Sendy’s $20 round includes an R&D arrangement with Toyota Tsusho Corporation, whose investment comes from a venture arm the company established for Africa, called Mobility 54.

“We’ll look at optimizing the kind of trucks that perform well in this market…They’ll also look at setting up vehicle services centers in partnership with us,” said Alloys.

Asia Africa Investment, Sunu Capital, Enza Capital, Vested World, and Kepple Capital joined lead investor Atlantica Ventures on the $20 million round — which brings Sendy’s total funding to $29 million, according to Alloys.

Formed in 2019, Atlantica Ventures is a relatively new Africa focused VC fund co-founded by  Washington DC based Aniko Szigetvari. She confirmed the fund’s lead on Sendy’s Series B and that Atlantica Ventures will take a board seat and work on strategic planning and execution with the company.

On how Sendy will outpace rivals such as Kobo360 and Lori Systems, Alloys points to the startup’s platform. “Our customer service is superior and that’s driven by our technology…I think we’re miles ahead of our competition today when it comes to tech,” he said.

Whoever surges ahead, Africa’s top business hubs — Nigeria, Kenya, and Ghana — stand to gain from the innovation VC spending and startup rivalry bring to the on-demand goods delivery sector.

Though logistics services aren’t included in the World Bank’s ease of doing business country rankings, they’re known to be costlier in Africa than many parts of the world.

In the early days of online commerce development on the continent — due to a lack of viable 3PL options — pioneering e-commerce startups Jumia and Konga were forced to burn capital by forming their own delivery services.

Years later, after Jumia has listed on the NYSE and expanded to multiple countries in Africa, fulfillment costs related to delivery remain one of the company’s largest expenses.

Lowering logistics expenses for businesses in Africa is central to Sendy’s mission, according to Alloys.

“We’re organizing a marketplace using technology so companies can efficiently deliver to their customers while reducing overall costs,” he said.

 


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Insurify raises $23M Series A to add new coverage varietals, boost its marketing efforts

11:01 | 15 January

The venture-backed insurance world is more than the Lemonades and MetroMiles of the world. There’s more room in the industry for startups to shake things up. One such company, Cambridge-based Insurify, is out today with a new venture round that greatly expands its capital base.

The startup, which had accepted just $6.6 million over two rounds before its latest investment, has raised $23 million in a Series A led by MTECH Capital and VIOLA FinTech. Prior investors MassMutual Ventures and Nationwide took part in the new investment.

TechCrunch hasn’t caught up with the company since our own Sarah Buhr covered its first $2 million deal back in early 2016. As you’d expect, a lot has changed in the last four years.

What’s Insurify?

To get under the skin of the new round, TechCrunch caught up with Insurify’s CEO and founder, Snejina Zacharia.

Zacharia, formerly of Gartner, came up with the idea for Insurify after she had an accident years ago. Following an unsatisfying experience working with the insurance industry after the fact, she discovered that consumers “have very, very little idea of how much coverage they need,” and that insurance providers (Insurify started out working with car insurance and is expanding to life and home insurance, as well) were “really struggling to [access] digital consumers because they have very poor UIs, [and] their APIs [were] not up to date.”

Enter Insurify, which bridges that gap. Working to build “automation behind insurance,” Insurify wants to help people find the coverage that they need, online, at a fair price; it’s a good business for the startup, which gets paid when consumers buy new insurance through its tooling.

Insurify, according to Zacharia, operates as a licensed agent for the various types of insurance it helps consumers find.

It’s more than a middleperson, however. The startup wants to bring the buying of insurance more firmly into the digital world. Today, Insurify completes 65% of its new policies online, and provides pre-loaded information to carriers when it passes a consumer over to their side of things.

Insurify is also building out its own technology products that exist a little past insurance, including a “wallet” that lets users manage multiple policies in one place.

New capital

TechCrunch asked Zacharia why she decided to raise capital now. According to the CEO, after doing “a lot with almost nothing,” her company is ready to accelerate its go-to-market motion.

In practical terms, the new capital will help Insurify with “horizontal expansion,” like “launching new verticals” that will include home, rental and other types of insurance, she said. Even more interesting, the Series A will also be used to fuel the startup’s marketing arm, which Zacharia says is run like a “hedge fund.” Insurify’s marketing efforts are “automated through [an] artificial intelligence model,” she told TechCrunch, which estimates “the value of every click” through a set of algorithms that it tunes regularly.

(We’ll avoid making a joke about hedge fund returns at this juncture.)

The CEO went on to say that “putting more money and more fuel behind [Insurify’s] marketing engine could really help us tremendously at this point,” helping to explain why Insurify decided to take on more capital when it did.

The startup had options when it came to investor selection, with Zacharia telling TechCrunch that her firm “had multiple, different term sheets” from which to choose. Why MTECH and VIOLA as lead investors? Zacharia emphasized venture partner selection as key, also highlighting the experiences and expertise of each firm (insurance with MTECH, and fintech with VIOLA).

It will be fascinating to see what happens at the meeting point of new capital, an operating marketing engine and an expanding set of products. Presumably Insurify can grow like heck from that confluence of factors. We’ll ask in a few months.

 


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Oscar Health now has 400,000 members and expects to bring in $2 billion by the end of 2020

03:18 | 14 January

Oscar Health, the upstart healthcare insurance company and technology developer, expects to have roughly 400,000 members insured under its healthcare plans, who collectively will bring in roughly $2 billion in revenue for the company by the end of 2020, according to slides of a presentation from the JP Morgan Healthcare conference seen by TechCrunch.

Those figures, based on the open-enrollment period that just closed, would represent 50% growth both in membership and revenue for the healthcare provider co-founded by Mario Schlosser and Joshua Kushner, founder of VC firm Thrive Capital and the brother of senior Trump advisor Jared Kushner.

Earlier today, Oscar announced that it was partnering with Cigna to provide services to small business owners. Commercial health insurance is a small but growing proportion of Oscar’s total membership, and it’s one area where the company hopes to expand. Essentially, Oscar can bring its technology-enabled healthcare services to small businesses in concert with the large healthcare networks that businesses are used to working with.

To date, Oscar counts around 375,000 individual members on its insurance plans, with another 20,000 coming through small-group insurance and the balance derived from Medicare Advantage customers, according to a person familiar with the company’s business.

Only three years ago, Oscar was a much smaller business with only 70,000 members after retrenching its coverage and pulling out of markets in Dallas-Fort Worth and New Jersey. From a footprint that encompassed New York, San Antonio, Los Angeles, Orange County, and San Francisco, Oscar now expects to operate in 29 markets by the end of 2020.

Fueling that expansion is prodigious capital infusions the company has received over the past few years. In 2018 alone, Oscar raised $540 million from investors including Alphabet, Founders Fund, Capital G (Alphabet’s later-stage investment firm) and Verily, Alphabet’s investment firm focused on life sciences. In all, Oscar Health has raised $1.3 billion to fulfill its vision of providing better healthcare services through technologies like a mobile app for telemedicine, physician consultations, booking appointments, prescription refills, and a more concierge-like healthcare experience for its members.

Initially, the company took advantage of the Affordable Care Act’s creation of new marketplaces for individuals to buy health insurance when it launched in 2012, but is now looking to buoy its growth by adding more deals with insurance providers like Cigna for small businesses.

Ultimately, the company envisions a healthcare industry where employer-defined plans will disappear as more consumers turn to Individual Coverage Health Reimbursement Arrangements. In that environment, Oscar’s bespoke services — like the recent partnership with the startup Capsule Pharmacy to provide same-day prescription delivery for Oscar’s members in New York — or the company’s tight relationship with providers like the Cleveland Clinic, become competitive advantages.

 


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A billion medical images are exposed online, as doctors ignore warnings

01:00 | 11 January

This story was reported in partnership with health news site The Mighty

Every day, millions of new medical images containing the personal health information of patients are spilling out onto the internet.

Hundreds of hospitals, medical offices and imaging centers are running insecure storage systems, allowing anyone with an internet connection and free-to-download software to access over 1 billion medical images of patients across the world.

About half of all the exposed images, which include X-rays, ultrasounds and CT scans, belong to patients in the United States.

Yet despite warnings from security researchers who have spent weeks alerting hospitals and doctors’ offices to the problem, many have ignored their warnings and continue to expose their patients’ private health information.

“It seems to get worse every day,” said Dirk Schrader, who led the research at Germany-based security firm Greenbone Networks, which has been monitoring the number of exposed servers for the past year.

The problem is well-documented. Greenbone found 24 million patient exams storing more than 720 million medical images in September, which first unearthed the scale of the problem as reported by ProPublica. Two months later, the number of exposed servers had increased by more than half to 35 million patient exams, exposing 1.19 billion scans, and representing a considerable violation of patient privacy.

But the problem shows little sign of abating. “The amount of data exposed is still rising, even considering the amount of data taken offline due to our disclosures,” said Schrader.

If doctors fail to take action, he said the number of exposed medical images will hit a new high “in no time.”

Over a billion medical images remain exposed. Experts say the number is getting worse, not better. (Image: supplied)

Researchers say the problem is caused by a common weakness found on the servers used by hospitals, doctors’ offices and radiology centers to store patient medical images.

A decades-old file format and industry standard known as DICOM was designed to make it easier for medical practitioners to store medical images in a single file and share them with other medical practices. DICOM images can be viewed using any of the free-to-use apps, as would any radiologist. DICOM images are typically stored in a picture archiving and communications system, known as a PACS server, allowing for easy storage and sharing. But many doctors’ offices disregard security best practices and connect their PACS server directly to the internet without a password.

These unprotected servers not only expose medical imaging but also patient personal health information. Many patient scans include cover sheets baked into the DICOM file, including the patient’s name, dates-of-birth, and sensitive information about their diagnoses. In some cases, hospitals use a patient’s Social Security number to identify patients in these systems.

Lucas Lundgren, a Sweden-based security researcher, spent part of last year looking at the extent of exposed medical image data. In November, he demonstrated to TechCrunch how easy it was for anyone to view medical data from exposed servers. In just a few minutes, he found one of the largest hospitals in Los Angeles exposing tens of thousands of patients’ scans dating back several years. The server was later secured.

Some of the largest hospitals and imaging centers in the United States are the biggest culprits of exposing medical data. Schrader said the exposed data puts patients at risk of becoming “perfect victims for medical insurance fraud.”

Yet, patients are unaware that their data could be exposed on the internet for anyone to find.

The Mighty, which examined the effect on patients, found exposed medical information puts patients at a greater risk of insurance fraud and identity theft. Exposed data can also erode the relationship between patients and their doctors, leading to patients becoming less willing to share potentially pertinent information.

As part of our investigation, we found a number of U.S. imaging centers storing decades of patient scans.

One patient, whose information was exposed following a visit to an emergency room in Florida last year, described her exposed medical data as “scary” and “uncomfortable.” Another with a chronic illness had regular scans at a hospital in California over a period of 30 years. And one unprotected server at one of the largest military hospitals in the United States exposed the names of military personnel and medical images.

But even in cases of patients with only one or a handful of medical images, the exposed data can be used to infer a picture of a person’s health, including illnesses and injuries.

Many patient scans include cover sheets containing personal health information baked into the file. (Image: supplied)

In an effort to get the servers secured, Greenbone contacted more than a hundred organizations last month about their exposed servers. Many of the smaller organizations subsequently secured their systems, resulting in a small drop in the overall number of exposed images. But when the security company contacted the 10 largest organizations, which accounted for about one-in-five of all exposed medical images, Schrader said there was “no response at all.”

Greenbone privately shared with names of the organizations to allow TechCrunch to follow up with each medical office, including a health provider with three hospital in New York, a radiology company in Florida with a dozen locations, and a major California-based hospital. (We’re not naming the affected organizations to limit the risk of exposing patient data.)

Only one organization secured its servers. Northeast Radiology, a partner of Alliance Radiology, had the largest cache of exposed medical data in the U.S., according to Greenbone’s data, with more than 61 million images on about 1.2 million patients across its five offices. The server was secured only after TechCrunch followed up a month after Greenbone first warned the organization of the exposure.

Alliance spokesperson Tracy Weise declined to comment.

Schrader said if the remaining affected organizations took their exposed systems off the internet, almost 600 million images would “disappear” from the internet.

Experts who have warned about exposed servers for years say medical practices have few excuses. Yisroel Mirsky, a security researcher who has studied security vulnerabilities in medical equipment, said last year that security features set out by the standards body that created and maintains the DICOM standard have “largely been ignored” by the device manufacturers.

Schrader did not lay blame on the device manufacturers. Instead, he said it was “pure negligence” that doctor’s offices failed to properly configure and secure their servers.

Lucia Savage, a former senior privacy official at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said more has to be done to improve security across the healthcare industry — especially at the level of smaller organizations who lack resources.

“If the data is personal health information, it is required to be secured from unauthorized access, which includes finding it on the internet,” said Savage. “There is an equal obligation to lock the file room that contains your paper medical records as there is to secure digital health information,” she said.

Medical records and personal health data are highly protected under U.S. law. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) created the “security rule,” which included technical and physical safeguards designed to protect electronic personal health information by ensuring the data is kept private and secure. The law also holds healthcare providers accountable for any security lapses. Running afoul of the law can lead to severe penalties.

“As Health and Human Services aggressively pushes to permit a wider range of parties to have access to the sensitive health information of American patients without traditional privacy protections attaching to that information, HHS’s inattention to this particular incident becomes even more troubling.”
Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA)

The government last year fined one Tennessee-based medical imaging company $3 million for inadvertently exposing a server containing over 300,000 protected patient data.

Deven McGraw, who was the top privacy official in the Health and Human Services’ enforcement arm — the Office of Civil Rights, said if security assistance was more available to smaller providers, the government could focus its enforcement efforts on providers who willfully ignore their security obligations.

“Government enforcement is important, as is guidance and support for lower resourced providers and easy-to-deploy solutions that are built into the technology,” said McGraw. “It may be too big of a problem for any single law enforcement agency to truly put a dent in.”

Since the scale of exposed medical servers was first revealed in September, Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) called for answers from Health and Human Services. Warner acknowledged that the number of U.S.-based exposed servers had decreased — 16 servers storing 31 million images — but told TechCrunch that “more needs to be done.”

“To my knowledge, Health and Human Services has done nothing about it,” Warner told TechCrunch. “As Health and Human Services aggressively pushes to permit a wider range of parties to have access to the sensitive health information of American patients without traditional privacy protections attached to that information, HHS’s inattention to this particular incident becomes even more troubling,” he added.

Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights said it does not comment on individual cases but defended its enforcement actions.

“OCR has taken enforcement action in the past to address violations concerning unprotected storage servers, and continues robust enforcement of the HIPAA rules,” said the spokesperson.

“We will continue doing our best to improve the global situation of unprotected systems,” said Schrader. But he said there was not much more he can do beyond warn organizations of their exposed servers.

“Then it’s a question for the regulators,” he said.

 


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Mental health startup eQuoo joins UK’s NHS app library, closes in on seed round

14:56 | 19 December

UK-based mental health startup eQuoo has become the only game in the UK’s National Health Service App Library and is set to shortly close it’s seed funding round. The app is an emotional fitness game that aims to teach healthy psychological skills.

The NHS announcement means a UK doctor can now formally refer eQuoo to their patients to improve their mental health and wellbeing.

The app has also now achieved a top rating at ORCHA, the leading health app assessment platform and now has clients including Barmer, the largest insurance company in Germany.

Founder and CEO Silja Litvin says she created the startup because of the mental health crisis. “While working in an NHS Trust for eating and mood disorders I was dismayed about the fact that many of our young clients had to wait months to see us for a measly 6 sessions. Psychologists are not scalable, but apps are, so I decided to make an app. After developing PsycApps, an evidence-based anti-depression app I learned the hard way that mental health apps all struggle with drop off rates of up to 90% in week 1, so we pivoted towards gamification with the launch of eQuoo, as casual games can have a positive mental health effect and intrinsically get players to stick to them.”

Earlier this year the startup also gained scientific backing for its app, Going through a “three arm”, five-week-long, randomized control trial with over 350 participants, with Bosch UK. By contrast Woebot, a highly lauded mental health chatbot startup, went through only a two-week trial with 70 participants.

Results showed “statistically significant increases in wellbeing metrics” and a significant decrease in anxiety when using the app over a timeframe of five weeks.

 


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San Diego’s Trust & Will raises $6 million for online estate planning

17:30 | 17 December

Estate planning in the U.S. is a $180 billion industry and unlike many of the other areas in the multi-trillion dollar financial services market, it’s one that has yet to see a slew of technology companies come in to try and improve efficiencies.

One notable exception is Trust & Will, the San Diego-based startup that has announced a new $6 million investment to expand sales and marketing, product development and partnerships.

The company joins services like Quicken’s WillMaker and startups like Everplans as relatively new entrants into the technology-enabled estate planning business.

Timing seems good for the company and its other competitors. The $180 billion estate planning business is expected to surge as millennials start having children and begin thinking about their wills. It joins other staid businesses like life insurance and home insurance as a category that’s traditionally been overlooked by entrepreneurs who now see increasingly digital customers make demands of industry participants.

Right now, half of all adults in the U.S. have no will and millions more have out-of-date estate plans, according to Trust & Will. In addition, 45 million parents with minor children have no form of estate plan.

Since its launch in April, Trust & Will has had 60,000 members enroll in the company’s platform and those enrollments represent $15.1 billion in total assets, $2.7 billion in reported life insurance policies, $137 million in charitable commitments and 88% holding real estate assets.

The company has a tiered subscription model offering a $399-$499 service plus an annual subscription fee for the creation of a trust-based estate plan that the company says can avoid probate for the protection and transfer of assets; a $69-$129 level, which includes plans for surviving beneficiaries and asset distribution; and a $39-$49 plan for parents with minor children who aren’t ready to complete a will.

While customers may be able to draft a will themselves and just store it in a safe place, some people will likely gravitate to a digital will. At least, that’s what Link Ventures, Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, Western Technology Investment, Techstars Ventures, Luma Launch and Halogen Ventures are hoping for with their commitment to the company’s Series A financing.

In January the company closed its first electronic will with help from its industry partner, Notarize. Co-founded by serial entrepreneur Cody Barbo, former product ad marketing strategist, Daniel Goldstein, and product designer Brian Lamb, the company now counts eleven people on staff.

“Trust & Will is another example of how digital services are disrupting traditional industries by offering a convenient and lower cost estate planning solution that helps consumers protect their valuable assets and loved ones,” said Rob Chaplinsky, a managing director at Trust & Will’s series A lead investor, Link Ventures. “We have been following this category for quite some and feel that Trust and Will’s product and rapid market traction are second to none. We look forward to leveraging our big data assets to help them scale.”

 


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Peter Short
Money will give hope
Peter Short

Boeing will build DARPA’s XS-1 experimental spaceplane
Peter Short
Great
Peter Short

Is a “robot tax” really an “innovation penalty”?
Peter Short
It need to be taxed also any organic substance ie food than is used as a calorie transfer needs tax…
Peter Short

Twitter Is Testing A Dedicated GIF Button On Mobile
Peter Short
Sounds great Facebook got a button a few years ago
Then it disappeared Twitter needs a bottom maybe…
Peter Short

Apple’s Next iPhone Rumored To Debut On September 9th
Peter Short
Looks like a nice cycle of a round year;)
Peter Short

AncestryDNA And Google’s Calico Team Up To Study Genetic Longevity
Peter Short
I'm still fascinated by DNA though I favour pure chemistry what could be
Offered is for future gen…
Peter Short

U.K. Push For Better Broadband For Startups
Verg Matthews
There has to an email option icon to send to the clowns in MTNL ... the govt of India's service pro…
Verg Matthews

CrunchWeek: Apple Makes Music, Oculus Aims For Mainstream, Twitter CEO Shakeup
Peter Short
Noted Google maybe grooming Twitter as a partner in Social Media but with whistle blowing coming to…
Peter Short

CrunchWeek: Apple Makes Music, Oculus Aims For Mainstream, Twitter CEO Shakeup
Peter Short
Noted Google maybe grooming Twitter as a partner in Social Media but with whistle blowing coming to…
Peter Short