Updated: Oct 18, 2021
BOSTON, MA - Harvard Public Health spin-off smoking cessation and mental health startup, Vincere Health, has blown through seed funding expectations with an oversubscribed $3M round. Prior to this first institutional round of capital, the company won numerous awards including the $75,000 Harvard President's Innovation Challenge, Massachusetts eHealth Institute grant, and became one of the most successful companies coming out of the UnitedHealthcare Accelerator powered by Techstars in 2020.
The digital health platform backed by licensed clinicians, proven financial rewards technology, and a handheld carbon monoxide monitoring device for tobacco intake verification, has already garnered more than 30 payor contracts before its seed round, and integrated its technology with two marquee institutional providers to be announced shortly.
Vincere’s seed round was led by insurance giant American Family Insurance (AmFam Institute), top-tier healthcare investors Flare Capital, SixThirty Ventures, Headwater Capital, ex-CEO of Tenet Healthcare Trevor Fetter, and other leading investors including Victress Capital, Equity League (founded by Microsoft, The Packers, The Bucks, The Brewers and TitletownTech), Yard Ventures, Mentors Fund, BonBillo and others while being alumni of Techstars, Alchemist and Harvard accelerator programs.
Dr. Joy Ippolito, Social Impact Investment Director, American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate & Social Impact, shared the following on why they lead the round. “We have been working with Vincere Health for almost two years as one of their earliest investors. We love that they have stayed true to their passion of helping chronic smokers, pregnant and parenting mothers, and others most in need. We led their Series Seed round because we believe they will be the first startup to tailor products and services that will help millions of low-income Americans successfully overcome their health challenges. We have built a great syndicate of notable investors who are as excited as we are for the future of Vincere Health.”
Flare Capital Partners’ Ian Chiang offered their perspective as a specialist healthcare investor. “Vincere Health’s integrated approach that combines on-demand counseling, remote patient monitoring, and behavioral incentives to serve a wide spectrum of smokers who range from 'highly motivated to quit' to 'not motivated to quit' is incredibly compelling. Flare is excited to support mission-driven entrepreneurs like Shalen and Jake in their pursuit of expanding their incentive-driven engagement model and serving patients battling preventable diseases.”
17% of U.S adults still suffer from tobacco addiction, while the pace of cessation has been decreasing since the late 1990s. The platform, built with a combination of clinical coaching access, connected devices, and instant financial rewards for successful achievements such as blowing into the CO device and illustrating a reduction in cigarettes smoked, has begun to outpace nearly all other digital addiction solutions in terms of outcomes.
Pre-seed, the company has already launched successful clinical validations with leading institutions such as Boston Medical Center, received state-funded grants, and had their research accepted by a prestigious American Thoracic Society journal.
Quitting tobacco is hard, and solutions that can make a real impact must be loved by consumers - not just by the healthcare system. Vincere has a cumulative 82% Net Promoter Score (higher than Apple) and program participants have, on average across the population, illustrated 68% reductions in tobacco usage, as verified objectively by their device. The program is the first of its kind to validate reductions in usage by combining instant financial rewards via direct deposit with validated breath tests that include app-based facial recognition to remove any question about “who” is doing the test.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly accelerated the adoption of digital health tools, it has also greatly exacerbated trends of addiction including tobacco addiction, alcohol addiction, and others. Founders Shalen De Silva and Jake Keteyian stated “This is not the time to let up on the critical issues facing the vulnerable members of our communities; we must put a renewed emphasis on clinically proven, cost-effective solutions and get them into the hands of as many lower income, rural, underrepresented people as possible, and build a massive financially impactful business while we are at it. We are both excited to be partnered with an exceptional investor group of both healthcare domain experts and dedicated, mission-oriented executives who can open doors and break down walls for us.”