London-based healthtech startup Your.MD has raised €25m in fresh funds from the global health and hygiene company Reckitt Benckiser (RB), saying it will use the money to roll out its “health hubs” concept.
Your.MD’s app, Healthily, is a “self-care” app that is using artificial intelligence to help users check their symptoms before deciding to see a doctor. According to the company, self-care in this way is not just saving people time from unnecessary doctor consultations but is also lessening the strain on the healthcare system in total.
“We don’t use AI to give people a diagnosis,” chief executive Matteo Berlucchi tells Sifted. “You shouldn't really even bring up a potential diagnosis because it's too dangerous. And you don't have enough data to be credible, to be honest. But what you can do very well with this technology is to say whether you should see a doctor or not.”
We don’t see this as a healthcare challenge, but as a challenge of adoption, high retention and engagement
Alongside Ada health and Babylon health, Your.MD is using AI to help people make decisions surrounding their health and like its competitors, it has seen a spike in users during the coronavirus crisis.
According to the company, it has seen a 350% increase in the number of users over the last 12 months, from 6m users from January to August 2019 to 26m the same period this year.
Part of the growth can be traced to Your.MD Covid-19 Symptom Mapper, tool which has had more than 4m visits to date and won a people’s choice award at the CogX AI awards.
Hiring from Uber and Paypal
The new funding round takes the total raised to €40m, which is €20m less than Ada health has raised, and will be used primarily on the expansion of the company’s so-called ‘health hubs’, where users today can find information about illnesses like cold and flu, sexual health and Covid-19. The goal is to help 1bn people through self-care within five years.
Your.MD still has a long way to go though.
To push its growth it has hired people from fast-growing companies like Uber and Paypal. Dan Kaziyev, previously at Uber, will take over the role of head of data and insights, an area where Uber has shown incredible strength.
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As well as the new hires, the founders are coming from an entrepreneurial background with a number of startups behind them — neither from healthcare. This is something that Berlucchi sees as a strength.
“You can divide healthtech companies into two groups, the ones that come from a health background and the ones that come from tech. At Your.MD, the whole senior team has a background in tech and we are super digital,” he says.
“We don’t see this as a healthcare challenge, but as a challenge of adoption, high retention and engagement. Those skills are the skills that people that have built a digital platform have. The healthcare knowledge, we have embedded into the companies through our medical team and our advisory board. But the DNA of the company is primarily digital.”
Corporate backing vs Venture capital
Your.MD was founded in Oslo by Henrik Pettersen in 2013 but moved its headquarters to London in 2015 and is now fully focused on the English speaking world including the UK, the US and India. In India, where the company launched its self-care app in September, together with the cleaning supplies brand Dettol, owned by RB.
That RB is leading the round in Your.MD is perhaps not as strange as it looks. Apart from the cleaning brand Dettol, the company owns a number of self-care brands, sold off the shelf, like Strepsils, Gaviscon, Durex and Nurofen.
The VCs can help you with advice, but they cannot put your URL on a box of Nurofen
For Berlucchi, who was working very hard to get the deal with RB finalised, the startup would choose strategic investors ahead of raising money from venture capital any day.
“The VCs can help you with advice, but they cannot put your URL on a box of Nurofen and they cannot get you on national television for 12 hours with the most famous people promoting the app in India – so there is an incredible added value with a strategic investor,” Berlucchi says and continues:
“We are always looking for more strategic investors, this is how we will reach our goal to help 1bn people.”