#001. Announcing our $2.8m Seed round and What is next?
Today we announced a Seed round of $2.8m led by the Barcelona-based impact fund Ship2B Ventures (impact fund from Barcelona through the BSocial Impact Fund coinvested by European Investment Fund and Sabadell Bank), as well as VCs Seedlink Ventures, Bankinter (through its Venture Capital program with the Bankinter Innovation Foundation), Telefonica Wayra, University of Chicago, and follow funding from our wonderful partners in the journey from the beginning JME, KFund and Seedcamp. We also bring onboard angels Cristobal Viedma from Lingokids, the unequaled Sunny Bates, Sanu Desai and health expert Poonam Sharma of Oscar Health.
We will use these funds to launch in the US and continue building our proposition of a “Longevity Plan” that helps seniors optimize their healthy life expectancy with the support of our virtual longevity coach, Rosita.
Going to the US this early can be considered a risky bet. Consolidating in Spain, or launching in Portugal, Germany, France or UK seemed like a more “traditional” approach for European startups. Even Latin America could feel more approachable.
Except when you look at the data.
The Healthspan Ratio
When reading about longevity, people often refer to lifespan, or life expectancy, as a key metric. Life Expectancy is somewhere between 80-88 in western countries. This number has a surname: Life Expectancy “at birth”. However there are so many reasons for early death particularly in poor countries that a more effective way to consider life expectancy by country is to look at Life Expectancy once you reach 60. You can find the data from the WHO website, and I drew the blue bars for you below. As you can see, countries like Japan and Switzerland can give you an additional 26 years of life expectancy once you reach 60, which is consistent. Meanwhile, some African countries life expectancy for a 60 year old is only an additional 15 years.
Now let's look at the red bars. Those are “Healthy Life Expectancy”. HLE is defined by the WHO as years living without disease. This does not necessarily mean “disability”, but it can include the moment you cannot easily lace your shoes or comb your hair. The moment you cannot enjoy life the way you wanted.
When you take the ratio HLE to LE (considering only the countries with highest LE), you can see that a few countries stand out. Japan and Singapore enjoy not only the highest LE in the world; they also have the best Healthy Life Expectancy ratio. They mostly live their last 20 years with good health. At the other end of the spectrum is the United States. Its health systems are built to keep people “alive”, but they live many of those years with disease, which could often be prevented, like the metabolic syndrome.
Needless to say, this is a tremendous burden for the health care systems of those countries, and more importantly for the seniors and their families. As an example, the cost of a frail person is around 10 times larger than the cost of a non-frail person of the same age (we are talking tens of thousands of dollars per person per year). And frailty is heavily linked to lifestyle choices and prevention medicine.
This graph alone makes a good argument why the US is a place where we can have a lot of impact fast. Many of the longevity biotech companies will bring extra life expectancy to young people with extraterrestrial technology, but few seniors will benefit from it. We believe we can bring direct impact to people's healthspans very quickly and specifically for the population group who needs it most.
Also, the US is the largest health system in the world. While their lack of universal healthcare is surprising for founders coming from a European country like Spain, their private healthcare value chain is so deeply integrated that there are opportunities available for startups that are simply hard to do in Europe, like impact bonds. As an example, the cost of frailty to the wellbeing-state is mostly not held in healthcare but in socialcare. For an American insurer all pockets matter. For European health systems, it is difficult to invest in prevention when the cost benefit is accounted by a different ministry. So we will do our best to become a key player and help the +30 million seniors in the US who suffer chronic musculoeskeletal problems while keeping our footprint in Spain.
How we will use our funding
We do many things, but in reality they all fall within this graph.
Where you are today. We are creating tools to regularly test seniors with simple technology they can do at home with the mobile App. As an example, we are working on artificial vision tools to measure biomechanics and future risk of frailty.
Where you should be in 10 years. Geriatrics is a world of minimums, e.g. “80 year olds should be able to, at least, lift 2kg”. But there is very little bibliography about maximums. How much should an 80 year old lift to be considered to be in really great shape? What does good look like? And furthermore, what is the right data for people in their 60s? Most data is available for people who are already sick, in hospitals, not for young seniors who are healthy but need to start taking care of themselves. We are creating the data to belong to the 90th percentile, the Range of Excellence for longevity at different age ranges.
The 10 year longevity action plan for different pillars of a healthy longevity (which will be the topic of a different post), where we started with physical condition because this is what can give seniors the most impact most quickly. During our preseed round we proved the adherence to the methodology, which was the main uncertainty to worry about. Our users are recording more than 280 minutes of activity per week, which significantly exceeds the recommendation of 150 minutes by the WHO (where most seniors do a lot less or even zero). This is the holy grail of what we do. Every insurance company in the world has tried to “change habits”. We are actually achieving that. We will invest in more personalization, more granularity, more tools to give you exactly the activities you need for different conditions and personal situations and all the pillars, one by one.
Update the Plan: We will improve our feedback mechanisms, because the plan needs to be updated all the time. This will include connection with devices and a better understanding of what is working.
Coaching and community: Nothing of this is important if people do not follow the guidelines. That's why coaching is important. Even Rafa Nadal has coaches, and it is not that he is not self-motivated or does not know enough about tennis. The most disciplined people need coaches to be motivated, inspired, educated and guided. Seniors need them too. Our virtual and human coaches will become more intelligent to help you improve your habits, but also connect you with more people with similar pathologies or needs.
The user feedback we have gotten until now has been wonderful and motivates us to wake up from bed every morning. The next 24 months are about executing and growing this proposition to help millions of people in their 60s and 70s who realize their bodies are changing and they might need to do some things differently. Thanks to all our new partners for coming on this journey, and thanks to you for reading and supporting.
Get in touch!
This is the first post we publish. We are writing extensive posts about Longevity education and optimization, specifically oriented to seniors but often valid for everyone, in case you want to subscribe to this newsletter and stay in touch.
If you are a clinic or an insurance company, or if you work with senior associations in Spain or in the US, talk to us in case we can collaborate email@example.com
We are not planning to do discounts in general, but to celebrate our announcement, here you have a 50% discount for the annual subscription for the first 50 people in case you want to gift it for a loved one. ROSITA22 (Spain and US). People who will benefit most today are active seniors 60-80 who feel chronic musculoskeletal pain, in case that fits with someone you know :)
the data we used from the WHO: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1QzdGak6_HHNMp1LomHmmkQ7FPRaJRt8TMsVUX8jjo2E/edit#gid=648819801