Past Issues

The business of fitness and wellness.

Healthcare Gets A Makeover


A trip to the doctor’s office isn’t what it used to be. And that’s by design. From urgent care to acupuncture and fertility clinics to high-tech hospitals, healthcare is getting a makeover. 

The desire for a top-to-bottom revamp of health services has been building for years. As costs skyrocketed, the overall experience has suffered, lacking personalization and transparency while becoming increasingly inconvenient. Now, a convergence of factors makes now the perfect moment to reimagine healthcare. 

Attitudes toward health are shifting, with millennials and baby boomers alike taking responsibility for and placing a higher value on their well-being. At the same time, technology is removing barriers to care while allowing us to more easily track and monitor our health. More interesting, though, is the fact that wellness has infiltrated healthcare. 

We wanted to build a one-stop-shop solution that solves the lack of soul in healthcare.” 
— Carolyn Witte, Tia co-founder 

Traditionally, the concept of wellness and, more specifically, its practitioners have been kept outside the gate of the healthcare establishment. But as wellness ballooned into a $4.2T industry while assuming nuanced and varied forms—beauty, self-care, healing, meditation, and more—the term is becoming synonymous with a new version of healthcare

As evidence, consider the growing number of startups blurring the line between wellness and healthcare. Futuristic and holistic treatments come complete with easy-to-book appointments and 24/7 access to an app, medical advice, or a doctor. Whether they’re taking inspiration from Eastern medicine or employing proprietary technology to make a diagnosis, these companies look nothing like doctor’s offices of old.

With a focus on elevating the aesthetic, the drab, sterile environment has been replaced by hardwood floors, natural sunlight, velvet sofas, and, in some cases, kombucha bars. Like boutique fitness studios and direct-to-consumer companies, building brand and a sense of belonging is a focus for healthcare’s newcomers.  

It’s as if the conveniences of concierge medicine have been packaged for the sort of person who hits up nearby Bandier and Sweetgreen on her way back to The Wing.”
The Cut

With locations in Los Angeles, New York City, and San Francisco, Parsley Health is a boutique medical practice that is, in their words, “bringing nutrition and wellness to cutting-edge medicine.” For a $150 monthly membership, Parsley members receive holistic treatment from a team of doctors and health coaches. Blood work, genetic testing, a fitness regimen, food plan, and supplement suggestions are par for Parsley’s course. The same can be said of the biophilic design — from the lighting to the architecture to the furniture, the space is built to make you feel happy and healthy. 

At Tia, a women’s health clinic, the company offers a suite of services, including gynecological exams, primary care, and wellness. With the goal of bringing “convenience, compassion, and personalization” to women’s care, Tia combines data from its app with in-person visits to provide doctors with holistic view of their patients’ health. And like Parsley, Tia features an “Instagrammable” design and fridge stocked with CBD-infused sparkling water Recess in a space meant to remove the anxiety from what is often a stressful experience.

Then there’s WTHN. Dubbed the “SoulCycle of acupuncture”, they’ve packaged an ancient Chinese therapy into a boutique concept that feels a lot like the Goop of healthcare. By playing up the self-care angle while touting the benefits of “ancient wisdom meets modern science”, WTHN offers their treatments, herbal blends, and studio as an avenue to “prevent, heal or glow.” Whether or not it actually delivers those results is up for debate. But there’s no denying the role that wellness plays in shaping the pitch. 

And the list goes on. From Forward Health’s high-tech approach to the healers at NYC wellness center The Well, the race to remake healthcare is on. As more companies enter the space, expect the concept of wellness to become more present and less defined in the future of healthcare.

Headlines & Happenings

🎵 Face the music 

As Peloton cruises toward an $8B IPO, the fitness startup just hit a speed bump in the form of a $150M lawsuit. Nine musicians, including Rihanna, Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, and Ed Sheeran, have filed a lawsuit claiming that Peloton is using unlicensed music in its workout videos.

According to the suit, the company is using more than 1,000 unlicensed songs. And the music industry is not pulling any punches in seeking a resolution. Speaking to CNBC, David Israelite, CEO of the National Music Publishers Association and the man behind the lawsuit, claimed that Peloton has knowing built its business on the back of unlicensed music. 

We reached out [to Peloton] and tried to reach an accommodation with the company. And unfortunately, those discussions did not go well and we felt we were at the point where taking this action was the only reasonable course for us to take to protect the songwriters and music publishers we represent… This is the case of a very large technology company that grew very fast that simply did not respect the songwriters who are making the music that their business was partially built on.
– David Israelite, National Music Publishers Association CEO 

How will Peloton respond and will this lawsuit derail their momentum? Stay tuned for updates. 

🎟️ All-Access

Technogym recently unveiled TECHNOGYM LIVE — a digital platform complete with streaming and on-demand workouts delivered through connected equipment like the all-new Technogym Bike. 

While US companies like Peloton, Mirror, and Tonal have made headlines with their game-changing technology, Technogym has been developing innovative fitness equipment since 1983. Based in Cesena, Italy, the company has a presence in 80,000 gyms in 100 countries, where 40M people train on Technogym equipment every day. It’s also worth noting that the company reported $675M in revenue for 2017.

Now, with the introduction of their new digital platform and equipment, the company is pushing into the at-home space with a few noteworthy features. First, they’re teaming up with celebrity trainers and boutique studios to produce and distribute workouts. So, unlike the Pelotons of the world who only produce their own content, Technogym is opening up the platform to other (verified) content creators. Plus, the company is planning to roll out a full fleet of machines to support cycling, running, rowing, bootcamp, and boxing workouts. 

Given its manufacturing prowess and distribution among facilities, Technogym’s digital ramp-up could give Peloton-like competitors a run for their money.

🏆 Chickpeas FTW

As Americans seekout healthier and more sustainable ingredients, the chickpea has emerged as the food of the future. From its humble beginnings as the key ingredient in hummus to chickpea chips, flour, butter, and now rice, these little beans are popping up everywhere. 

A recent Nielsen report points to one possible explanation: While 39% of Americans are trying to eat more plant-based foods, they’re not interested in traditional alternatives like tofu, seitan, or brown rice. A telling metric, sales of plant-based foods grew 17% in 2018, reaching $3.7B, but sales of more traditional plant-based options were down 1.3% for the same year. 

Less of a fad and more of a forgone conclusion, chickpeas are here to stay, says The Atlantic

Its particular combination of cultural and nutritional circumstances makes the chickpea’s expanding popularity a different phenomenon than Millennial trends that might be dismissively associated with it, such as avocado toast or gluten avoidance. It’s less of a fad, and more of a new norm in what people expect from the food they buy.”

💰 Money Moves


Starbucks has invested $100M in Valor Siren Ventures, a food startup-focused fund. The fund will be managed by Valor Equity Partners and will invest in companies innovating in food or retail.

Peerfit, a digital health company that works with employers to provide fully-funded fitness experiences for their employees, received an $18M investment from Virgo Investment Group.

HENRY The Dentist closed $10M in Series A financing, led by Forerunner Ventures, to expand its fleet of mobile dental practices.

Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale is among a group of investors backing ROWBOTS, a boutique rowing studio set to open in London.

Eight startups, including makers of high-protein falafel, gluten-free empanadas, and frozen fruits, were selected to take part in Chobani’s spring 2019 incubator. The companies will take part in a four-week program and brand auditing at Chobani’s SoHo office in New York City, along with $25,000 in equity-free funding.

Tierra Farm, a certified-organic manufacturer and distributor of nuts, dried fruits, coffee, and chocolate products, has acquired Power of 3 Nutrition, a seed blend company.

Singapore-based digital health startup CXA Group, an employee benefits and wellness platform, raised $25M in its latest round of funding.

Alpha Foods, a maker of plant-based meals, raised a $7M seed round co-led by New Crop Capital and AccelFoods.

Upcycled ingredient startup Planetarians closed a $750K seed round with participation from Barilla’s BLU1877 venture arm, Techstars, and others. 

OHi Superfood Bar, a maker of refrigerated healthy snack bars, secured an undisclosed equity investment from District Ventures Capital

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