Consumer diagnostics company EverlyWell has raised a $50 million financing round as it looks to build out its digital platform and expand its retail partnerships to widen access to its range of at-home tests.
The funding round was led by investors Goodwater Capital and Highland Capital Partners, along with participation with Next Coast Ventures, NextGen Venture Partners and others. EverlyWell, which initially launched in 2016, previously raised $1 million from Shark Tank investor Lori Greiner.
CEO and founder Julia Cheek started EverlyWell after her own experiences trying to diagnose her health issues highlighted problems of cost and convenience in the traditional lab testing process, especially with the proliferation of high-deductible health plans.
EverlyWell sells testing products directly to consumers online and in retail locations. While the company doesn’t currently contract with any insurers to pay for the tests, it says its prices are comparable to the out-of-pocket costs of testing in a clinical setting.
Customers take their own samples at home with included lancets and cotton swabs, mail in their materials and receive results back in a few days.
While physician orders are required for some higher level clinical tests like those for select STDs or Lyme Disease, a majority of the company’s 35 panels can be purchased directly by consumers without clinician input. These include assessments for food sensitivity, Vitamin D deficiency, metabolism and thyroid function. Prices for tests range from $50 for a Folic Acid test to $400 for what the company calls its “most comprehensive” women’s health test.
The company is part of a growing trend of direct-to-consumer digital health companies like Modern Fertility, 23andMe and Sandstone Diagnostics. While there has been some skepticism over the scientific validity of some of these tests, it’s impossible to argue against their increasing popularity. EverlyWell said it has seen 300 percent year-over-year growth in its customer base.
One criticism of consumer based diagnostics is the lack of general consumer expertise or context to understand test results. Cheek said the company’s brand is based on “seamless, insightful and transparent consumer experience” and that translates to testing results as well.
She pointed to the color-coded graphs that customers get, along with explanations of the relevance of various biomarkers and links to third-party independent research. Users also have the ability to share their results with their physician.
EverlyWell is also trying to close the information gap by starting walkthrough services for consumers looking for additional guidance. Alongside their internal services, the company also has a partnership with consumer genetics testing company Helix to bundle both biomarker and genetic testing.
Mirroring the sales approach of 23andMe, EverlyWell is using its funding to help expand its retail partnerships with companies like Kroger and CVS, as well as marketing efforts. This month the company launched a national partnership with Target to offer nine of EverlyWell products across 1,800 retail locations.
The company was also instrumental in helping to pass a Maryland law to overturn the ban on advertising of lab tests to consumers and will start selling its products in the state in October.
“Our brick-and-mortar presence with leading wellness and consumer brands provides even more consumer access to testing where people live and work. Similar to the on-shelf presence of vitamins, Tylenol, or HIV testing, EverlyWell tests should be easy to access as an affordable health management tool,” Cheek said in an email.
One point of contrast between 23andMe EverlyWell is the latter company’s pledge to never sell customer data to a third-parties.
“Lab testing is arguably one of the most important steps in preventing and managing illness, but has been largely ignored by digital health companies,” Goodwater Capital’s Eric Kim said in a statement.
“With a clear consumer pain point and a strong executive team that integrates both consumer and healthcare expertise, EverlyWell is successfully navigating an entrenched industry to offer consumers an opportunity to take charge of their own health.”
Picture: Tetiana Garkusha, Getty Images