Meet the 26 healthcare startups that top VCs say are poised to take off amid the coronavirus pandemic

Buoy can help you figure out your health condition

  • Business Insider asked 13 top venture capital investors which startups they think will thrive despite the coronavirus pandemic, and why.
  • We asked them to pick two companies, including one they’re not invested in.
  • Their answers span from telehealth to virtual clinics to machine-learning-inspired heart scans.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

While the coronavirus pandemic has posed devastating business challenges to startups in retail, tech, real estate, and more, some healthcare companies have found themselves positioned to weather the outbreak and even thrive.

And at least in North America, health companies were raising more money than ever before the worst of the pandemic hit, according to an industry report by CB Insights. In the first three months of the year, they raised $10.3 billion, the most on record, driven in part by 25 “mega rounds,” or cash infusions surpassing $100 million, according to the report.top vc in healthcare 4x3

Some healthcare startups are well positioned to help as the novel coronavirus upends the way healthcare is provided in the US. Lockdowns have propelled telehealth companies to new heights and put mental health services front and center for employers. The pandemic is also boosting innovation in areas like how we deliver care, make drugs, and conduct research. 

To shed more light on which companies are thriving and why, Business Insider interviewed 13 investors from venture capital firms such as Andreessen Horowitz, GV, and Greylock Partners. We asked them to name startups poised to take off, including ones they’re not invested in.

Here are their 26 picks, listed in order of disclosed funding to date. 

This article was published on May 26. It was updated on June 15.

Doxy.me – None

Total funding: Doxy.me has no external funding, according to a spokesperson for the company.

What it does: It’s a free telemedicine service that, similar to Zoom, works with a secure web link without requiring patients to set up accounts beforehand.

Prominent backers: None

Why VCs like the company:

Doxy has differentiated itself from other telehealth groups by keeping things simple, according to Dr. Krishna Yeshwant, a managing partner at GV, formerly Google Ventures. It’s not trying to offer wraparound services, for example, but rather focuses on getting people online easily, he said.

“There’s lots of platforms out there. But I think they’ve just done a good job,” he said. “They have a good product. Physicians seem to like it. Patients seem to be able to engage with it.”

Read more: A little-known telehealth startup became a lifeline for doctors during the coronavirus pandemic. Here’s how it went from a school project to adding more than half a million healthcare workers from the cofounder’s home.

 

Prime Medicine – Undisclosed

Total funding: Undisclosed

What it does: Prime is developing gene-editing technology meant to treat genetic mutations that lead to diseases like cancer or Huntington’s disease.

Prominent backers: Prime just closed its first round of funding via Arch Venture Partners, F-Prime Capital, Alphabet’s GV, and Newpath Partners, David Liu, the company’s founder, said in a statement to Business Insider.

Why VCs like the company:

As laboratories and hospitals have shut down research in response to coronavirus outbreaks, Prime’s experiments have slowed down some, according to David Schenkein, co-lead of GV’s life sciences arm. But the technology is such a game-changer for treating rare diseases that the business isn’t particularly threatened, he said.

“Rare diseases are not going away because of a pandemic. And they need to be addressed,” Schenkein said in an interview. “So the need [for Prime] is independent of what’s happening with this current pandemic.”

Binah.ai – $3.5 million

Total funding: $3.5 million, according to the company

What it does: Binah.ai makes AI-powered video-based tools that help doctors monitor patients’ biometric data, such as heart rate, oxygen levels, and stress.

Prominent backers: iAngels, GITV, Maverick Ventures Israel, SOMPO Japan, according to Binah

Why VCs like the company:

Binah has “amazing technologists and really strong healthcare team that’s able to do a sort of seamless and noninvasive way to track a number of vital signs and symptoms that are going to be important as you start thinking about even before you go to the office,” Alyssa Jaffee, vice president at 7Wire Ventures, where she focuses on digital healthcare and technology-enabled services, said in an interview.

NOCD – $5.8 million

Total funding: $5.8 million, according to the company

What it does: NOCD provides video-based therapy, including exposure and response prevention therapy (ERP), for obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Prominent backers: 7Wire Ventures, Chicago Ventures, Hyde Park Angels, and Meridian Street Capital, according to the company

Why VCs like the company:

“We’ve seen an unbelievable spike in user growth during the Covid pandemic and allowing folks to actually get access to this type of tele-therapy,” said 7Wire’s Jaffee.

Jaffee said that ERP is also used to treat other conditions like eating disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder, so NOCD hopes to scale its platform out “as mental health becomes kind of a lagging and long lasting effect of the pandemic.”

Medly Pharmacy – $10 million

Disclosed funding: $10 million, according to PitchBook

What it does: Medly is an online pharmacy that delivers prescription medicines. It works in tandem with doctors, health plans, and a mobile app.

Prominent backers: Greycroft and Lerer Hippeau, according to a spokesperson for the company

Why VCs like the company:

Medly is in good shape because once people start using prescription delivery services, they tend not to stop, according to Maya Noeth, who leads Accel’s consumer growth investing.

That, coupled with coronavirus-inspired demand and Medly’s relationship with doctors’ offices, has allowed it to grow quickly and without much capital, according to Noeth.

“The increased awareness of it and demand for prescription delivery has allowed Medly to reach consumers in an organic, cost-effective way, which is a win-win,” Noeth said.

“They have the doctors’ office visits, the business-to-business side, and now they have the consumer side, which they haven’t had to pay for largely because of COVID,” she said.

Read more: The coronavirus pandemic is upending the way patients get their prescriptions. Meet the 8 pharmacy startups that stand to take a bite out of the $335 billion market for prescription drugs.

Papa – $10 million

Total funding: At least $10 million, according to the company 

What it does: Papa pays people through health plans to socialize with and do things for seniors, both virtually (like phone calls) and in-person (like grocery shopping).

Prominent backers: Canaan, Melinda Gates’ Pivotal Ventures, Initialized Capital, Y Combinator, and Sound Ventures, according to a press release

Why VCs like the company:

Papa launched its virtual wing just as the pandemic was getting started, according to Byron Ling, a partner at Canaan who sits on Papa’s board.

Now, the company is doing more visits virtually than it was in-person, he said in an interview.

“What we like about it is it’s using technology to take a very flexible labor force, but for a wide range of cases,” Ling said. “And while you can’t necessarily go on a walk with someone [right now] — you can create a lot of support from a mental health perspective that’s become really critical in the eyes of health plans.”

ConsejoSano – $10 million

Disclosed funding: More than $10 million, according to the company

What it does: ConsejoSano builds healthcare software for providers and payers that’s focused on helping them meet the needs of multicultural populations.

Prominent backers: 7Wire, Acumen America, Impact Engine, Total Impact Capital, Tuesday Capital, Tufts Health Plan, Wanxiang America, and Oxeon ventures (Town Hall Ventures) according to the company

Why VCs like the company:

Access to quality healthcare has not been distributed equally in the US, and certain populations are especially at risk of being left behind as the country adopts more digital solutions due to the pandemic, 7Wire’s Jaffee told Business Insider.

ConsejoSano works specifically with Native American populations and people who aren’t native English speakers, for example, and has “spent a lot of years building a technology to map what their cultural needs are and what language needs to be used and how it needs to be deployed in order to drive engagement,” Jaffee said.

Ribbon Health – $10.25 million

Disclosed funding: $10.25 million, according to the company

What it does: Ribbon Health is a data platform that helps healthcare groups offer accurate provider directories, referral management, and care navigation.

Prominent backers: Andreessen Horowitz, BoxGroup, Y Combinator.

Why VCs like the company:

“Ribbon is kind of the infrastructure layer of the physician network behind the scenes that helps them manage those relationships, and they’re one of the companies that, because a lot of their customers are delivering virtual care products, are actually seeing a tremendous amount of growth right now,” said Julie Yoo, who leads Andreessen Horowitz’s healthcare technology investments and sits on the board of Ribbon.

Uniform Teeth – $14 million

Total funding: $14 million, according to a spokesperson for the company

What it does: Uniform Teeth provides teeth straightening with clear aligners and doesn’t require many in-person visits with orthodontists. 

Prominent backers: Canaan, Lerer Hippeau, Refactor Capital, and Slow Ventures, according to the company

Why VCs like the company:

Uniform is already booking up its summer appointments, due to the pandemic or shifting expectations in what customers expect convenience-wise — or both — according to Canaan’s Ling, who sits on Uniform’s board.

Either way, Uniform has been building for a future that asks those types of questions, he said. 

“Do you really need to go get in your car and drive back and forth 20 times over the course of your treatment? And what if we built a product ground-up around a world where we have this super computer in our pocket? Can you deliver really high-quality care through that?” Ling said.

Wheel – $15.6 million

Total funding: $15.6 million, according to a spokesperson for the company

What it does: Wheel builds the back-end infrastructure for telehealth companies and manages a workforce of doctors that healthcare groups can use.

Prominent backers: CRV, Tusk Ventures, and Silverton Partners, according to Wheel

Why VCs like the company:

“I think that expansion and contraction of the medical workforce is going to be super interesting in the next five years,” said Adam Goulburn, a partner at Lux Capital.

Healthcare providers in New York City, for instance, needed extra doctors and nurses during their peak caseloads that they probably won’t need again, he said. 

“There’s that mobile dynamic kind of flex and constriction of a workforce that I think is going to be a super interesting space to watch in healthcare,” Goulburn said.

Read more: Meet Wheel, the company quietly powering the doctors behind the companies who want to ship prescriptions like Viagra and birth control straight to your door.

Nines Radiology – $16.5 million

Total funding: $16.5 million, according to a spokesperson

What it does: Nines makes image-analyzing software for radiologists. It recently made a tool meant to help them triage patients during the pandemic.

Prominent backers: Accel, 8VC, and Veritas Technologies founder Mark Leslie, according to the company

Why VCs like the company:

Nines is seeing a surge in demand brought on by COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, according to Amit Kumar, a partner at Accel.

“Nines is using cutting-edge machine learning and AI to accelerate radiology reads. And in the era of COVID when people are demanding more radiology reads, especially of the lungs, the speed at which you can get the answers is critical,” Kumar told Business Insider.

Read more: A self-driving-car pioneer teamed up with a doctor to create a healthcare AI startup that just raised $16.5 million to upend radiology

Caption Health – $20 million

Total funding: $20 million, the company told Business Insider

What it does: Caption makes machine learning software that helps providers perform and interpret ultrasounds.

Prominent backers: Data Collective, Greenbox Capital, Khosla Ventures, 11.2 Capital, Minneapolis Heart Institute, Edwards Life Sciences, and the National Science Foundation, according to the company

Why VCs like the company:

Its software for heart scans allows non-specialized providers to perform procedures in the patient’s room that they normally couldn’t, and was recently approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, as Business Insider’s Andrew Dunn reported.

The pandemic has made that technology necessary as opposed to merely expedient, DCVC’s Armen Vidian, who sits on Caption’s board, told Business Insider. 

“Now enter Covid, right? The need for this product just went from making sense, and having a good fit, to being urgent. Because we can’t route each patient through an overburdened healthcare system, send them to the ultrasound lab back, and back down to the ER,” Vidian said.

“Now Caption allows untrained nurses at the point of care to do the same thing,” he said.

Read more: A Khosla-backed healthcare startup raised $20 million to diagnose heart problems using AI. It just won a crucial approval to help fight the coronavirus.

Clarify Medical – $26 million

Total funding: $26 million, according to the company

What it does: Clarify Medical makes light therapy products for chronic skin conditions like psoriasis, vitiligo, and eczema that customers can use from home.

Prominent backers: 7Wire Ventures, Bluestem Capital, H.I.G. BioHealth Partners, and SV Health Investors, according to the company

Why VCs like the company:

“Now, more than ever, you can’t go into your [dermatologist’s] office and get light therapy,” 7Wire’s Jaffee said.

She said Clarify is focused on “how do you deliver that care in the context of your own home? How do you understand your condition so that you can be coached and given the information to help elevate yourself from sick care to well care?”

Buoy Health – $29 million

Total funding: $29 million, according to a spokesperson

What it does: Buoy checks your symptoms with machine learning and gives care recommendations online, including for COVID-19.

Prominent backers: Humana, Fidelity’s F-Prime, Cigna Ventures, Quest Venture Partners, and Optum Ventures, according to the spokesperson

Why VCs like the company:

Buoy has seen a “ton of expansion” lately amid partnerships with the state of Massachusetts and several national health plans, according to Laura Veroneau, a partner at Optum Ventures who sits on Buoy’s board of directors. 

“It’s not that they weren’t necessarily partnering in these areas before, but you’ve seen big, focused use cases that have really started to tap into kind of the entire solution of Buoy and some of the additional benefits to the platform maybe beyond where they were focusing before,” she told Business Insider.

Two Chairs – $31 million

Total funding: $31 million, according to a spokesperson

What it does: Two Chairs matches users with therapists in-person and virtually, and files insurance claims on their behalf.

Prominent backers: Amplo, Maveron, and Goldcrest Capital, according to the company 

Why VCs like the company:

The pandemic has underscored the importance of mental health, benefiting companies like Two Chairs that seek to make it more accessible, Canaan’s Ling said.

“The challenges in mental health have been both accessibility, and in some ways, maybe the stigma that it’s not as effective in a remote capacity,” he said.

Commure – $39 million

Total funding: At least $39 million, according to a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission and PitchBook

What it does: Commure is a software company that, among other things, provides developers with the codes they need to build healthcare apps.

Prominent backers: General Catalyst, according to the company, and 8VC, Designer Fund, and Human Capital, according to PitchBook

Why VCs like the company:

While healthcare software can be a challenging space for young companies, Commure was founded by software developers and engineers that should be able to build smart interfaces for providers, according to Accel’s Kumar. 

“In startup land, sometimes just getting the timing right is everything,” Kumar said in an interview. “They’ve been working on this problem for a couple of years, and now you’re going to see an acceleration of interest from healthcare providers and obviously just increasing pressures do the whole COVID situation.”

Cleo – $41 million

Total funding: $41 million, according to the company.

What it does: Cleo is a healthcare benefits platform designed specifically for working families.

Prominent backers: Felicis Ventures, Forerunner Ventures, Greylock Partners, and NEA, according to the company

Why VCs like the company:

Parents are desperate for help working from home without childcare, and “Cleo can offer a product for finding childcare or pairing childcare now,” said Greylock partner Sarah Guo, who sits on Cleo’s board.

But Guo also said companies will continue to embrace remote work even as the pandemic subsides, “so the idea that you would help people with health and childcare in a way that has to support a global workforce or a more distributed workforce makes sense.”

Unite Us – $45.3 million

Total funding: $45.3 million, according to the company

What it does: Unite Us is a software platform that connects healthcare groups with social service providers in a coordinated care network.

Prominent backers: New York Ventures, Oak HC/FT, Town Hall Ventures, Define Ventures, Scout Ventures, Luminate (part of the Omidyar Network), Salesforce Ventures and California Health Care Foundation, according to Unite Us

Why VCs like the company:

Hospitals are typically good at matching discharged patients with specialists, such as finding a cardiologist for someone with a chronic heart condition, “but what they don’t take care of is everything else that you might need in your home setting,” said Andreessen’s Yoo.

“All of the sort of non-clinical things that surround a patient’s journey are things that are not well accommodated by the traditional health care system” and platforms like Unite Us that assist with that have become especially important during the pandemic, she said.

Read more: How an Air Force Reserve pilot raised $45 million to build a company after struggling to help his fellow veterans

Evidation Health – $62 million

Total funding: $62 million, according to the company

What it does: Evidation Health helps pharmaceutical companies and researchers with studies by getting people to share health data through its mobile app.

Prominent backers: AMV, B Capital Group, Pappas Ventures, Rock Health, Sanofi Ventures, and SV Health Investors, according to company announcements

Why VCs like the company:

Evidation is finding new ways to conduct research studies using real world evidence to understand how treatments actually work after they’ve been delivered, according to Greylock’s Guo.

COVID-19 “is a triggering event for people to understand they need more ability to capture data from a large population basis,” Guo said. “For example, if you wanted to see how many people across the country thought they had [COVID-19] symptoms, you couldn’t do that,” she said, and noted Evidation is currently doing a study of the pandemic’s impact on mental health.

Maven – $90 million

Total funding: $90 million, according to a spokesperson

What it does: Maven helps women and parents get access to healthcare, including through telemedicine and health plans. 

Prominent backers: Sequoia, Oak HC/FT, Icon Ventures, Spring Mountain Capital, Female Founders Fund, Harmony Partners, 14W, 8VC, and The Box Group, according to the company

Why VCs like the company:

It’s not exactly the ideal time to be giving birth right now. That makes women’s health companies like Maven all the more important, especially given it deals with mental health services, too, according to Optum’s Veroneau.

“There’s been a lot of innovation in that space, but I don’t know that anyone [else] has basically taken it over in one, if you will,” she said. 

Read more: The woman who founded Maven explains how her first career taught her 2 key skills that helped her raise $42 million at the digital-health startup.

Cityblock Health – $90.6 million

Total funding: At least $90.6 million, according to PitchBook and company announcements

What it does: Cityblock works with underserved communities to address the social factors that influence people’s health by delivering primary care, behavioral care, and social services.

Prominent backers: Maverick Ventures, Oxeon Partners, Sidewalk Labs, Thrive Capital, and Town Hall Ventures, according to the company

Why VCs like the company:

“It’s a tech driven company and they’ve had this technology system where they’ve been able to use video, phone, texts to communicate with 90% of their members in a virtual setting in a way where three months ago that was closer to 10%,” said Ambar Bhattacharyya, a managing director at Maverick Ventures who sits on Cityblock’s board.

“They’ve seen their engagement rates actually jump because people are more engaged virtually, and frankly, people don’t want to leave their homes and go to the ER,” he said.

Science 37 – $100 million

Total funding: More than $100 million, according to the company

What it does: Science 37 incorporates participants and doctors into virtual clinical research

Prominent backers:  Pharmaceutical Product Development, dRx Capital, Redmile, Lux Capital, Glynn Capital, and GV, according to the company

Why VCs like the company:

Science 37 has seen a “dramatic” increase in demand in recent months, according to GV’s Yeshwant, largely since coronavirus halted countless clinical trials, as Business Insider reported.

“It’s been interesting to the field for a while, but I think you’re getting a flash forward to what this space might look like in 5 years,” Yeshwant said. 

While the startup is offering an alternative to brick-and-mortar sites for now, Lux Capital thinks the startup can help bring trials online after the pandemic is over, too. 

“I think there will be a digital component to all clinical trials on a go-forward basis,” Lux’s Goulburn told Business Insider.

“Every day a clinical trial is on hold, it’s millions of dollars lost” for pharma companies and other healthcare groups, he said.

Read more: ‘Virtual’ drug research is becoming a permanent reality as the coronavirus upends clinical trials and fuels a new breed of startups

LetsGetChecked – $114 million

Total funding: $114 million, according to a spokesperson

What it does: LetsGetChecked ships people at-home lab tests, such as for sexually transmitted infections.

Prominent backers: Elkstone Venture Partners, Symphony Ventures, Transformation Capital, Optum Ventures, Illumina Ventures, CommonFund Capital, Angeles Investments, Deerfield, and HLM Venture Partners, according to the company

Why VCs like the company:

The pandemic may bring new business to LetsGetChecked in the form of folks looking to get tested for COVID-19 without going into a clinic, according to Optum’s Veroneau. The company doesn’t yet offer a coronavirus test, but is planning to do so.

It’s also quieted the skeptics. 

“The value proposition of a company like that has been very, very well understood in this time,” Veroneau said. “Even, say, the skeptics before are now saying, ‘Okay, that’s why you would have a platform like this in your portfolio.'”

Doctor On Demand – $160.7 million

Total funding: $160.7 million, according to the company

What it does: Doctor On Demand connects patients with doctors via virtual appointments.

Prominent backers: Andreessen Horowitz, Goldman Sachs Investment Partners, GV, Princeville Global, Shasta Ventures, Tenaya Capital, and Venrock, according to an announcement

Why VCs like the company:

“We are seeing within our own portfolio a huge push towards telemedicine and we believe that habits are actually permanently changing,” said Cami Samuels, a partner at Venrock who focuses on biotech, medical devices, and consumer health.

“Once people have engaged with a product like [Doctor On Demand], they’re much more likely to use again. So, there’s adoption by your employer of telemedicine, and then there’s engagement by the employees, and that engagement has gone up,” she said.

Read more: Meet the 12 telemedicine startups being put to the test as they gear up to confront the coronavirus pandemic.

Lyra Health – $176 million

Disclosed funding: $176 million, according to a spokesperson

What it does: Lyra Health works with companies like Starbucks and Zoom to help their employees access mental healthcare services.

Prominent backers: Casdin Capital, Crown Ventures, Glynn Capital Partners, Greylock Partners, Institutional Venture Partners, Meritech Capital, Providence Ventures, Tenaya Capital, and Venrock, according to the spokesperson

Why VCs like the company:

Lyra “is all about carving out mental health benefits and, as you can imagine, the demand for mental health has gone up a fair amount in the post-COVID era,” said Venrock’s Samuels.

GV’s Yeshwant also said the startup was poised to do well, though GV is not currently an investor in Lyra.

“You kind of think about the mental health impact that all of this has on employees. As an employer, what sort of resources do you really provide?” Yeshwant said in an interview. “That’s not something people are often thinking about.”

KRY – $250.6 million

Total funding: $250.6 million, according to a spokesperson for the company

What it does: KRY, a telemedicine company, facilitates video appointments between patients and doctors about a range of general health issues.

Prominent backers: Accel, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, Creandum, and Index Ventures, according to KRY

Why VCs like the company:

In addition to more consumer awareness of telemedicine offerings due to the pandemic, KRY is also benefiting from doctors’ newfound willingness to give the technology a shot, Accel’s Noeth told Business Insider.

“It’s benefited from Covid from a number of angles,” Noeth said. “Now physicians are like, ‘You know what? I’m going to try it’. And then they try it and they think it’s awesome,” she added.

Read more: Investors just poured $14.6 billion into startups working to transform healthcare. These are the 10 companies that pulled in the most cash.



Live Updates COVID-19 CASES