Big Bets On This Preventive Healthcare Startup

Breathe Well-being is a digital therapeutics startup that works on programmes to reverse or help with type-II diabetes

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The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the crucial need for a robust healthcare sector, and how!

Breathe Well-being

Hospitals and medical professionals had to move a huge part of their services to the online mode, which subsequently gave a boost to the healthtech industry. According to a report by RBSA Advisors, India’s healthtech market is forecast to hit $50 billion by 2033. There is also a mention of the industry growing at a 39 per cent compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) over FY2020-FY2023.

The health market is currently valued at $2 billion and is an umbrella to six segments under it: e-pharmacy, fitness, wellness, healthcare IT, telemedicine, and personal health management. This accounts for over 1 per cent of the total healthcare industry in India which is predicted to reach $132.84 billion by 2023, according to data provided by the India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF).

In the backdrop of the pandemic, an increasing number of people are opting for preventive healthcare. Breathe Well-being, a digital therapeutics startup that works on programmes to reverse or help with type-II diabetes, has not missed the trend.

“We have grown thirtyfold in the last 15 months,” said Rohan Verma, co-founder and chief executive officer, Breathe Well-being.

He acknowledged that the startup earlier faced resistance since people didn’t want to pay for something that wasn’t tangible. However, the company’s target audience is patients with type-II diabetes, known to be more vulnerable to complications if they contract the virus. This awareness makes them opt for preventive digital programmes.

The healthtech industry is also boasting a healthy influx of investments from Venture Capitalists.

According to a report by IAMAI-Praxi, an increase of 300 per cent was seen in teleconsultation platforms in 2020. This indicates that customers will be driving the future of telemedicine since they have warmed up to it amid the pandemic.

“Aditya and I have been working together for the past 6 years in the health and wellness space. In our previous venture, we discovered that over 90 per cent of our super users who were over the age of 35 and had chronic illnesses such as PCOD, hypertension and diabetes, all of which are results of unhealthy habits, stressful jobs, and sedentary lifestyles. Given our understanding of chronic health diseases and previous ventures, we started working on a program that could be delivered digitally with a focus on diabetes reversal,” the founder told Entrepreneur India in an interview.

In January 2020, the co-founders launched Breathe Well-being, which offered a convenient, simple, and effective approach for preventing, managing and reversing type-II diabetes. Not only did they assist their members in reversing type-II diabetes, but they also succeeded in getting them off their diabetes medicines completely, Verma claimed.

The company’s vision is to help people live a life free of diabetes through its clinically proven #DigitalTherapeutics program. It addresses 70 million diabetic people in India and assists them to manage/reverse their conditions, reduce their dependence on medication and lead healthier lives.

Further proving the clinical efficacy of its Digital Therapeutics Program, the co-founders have successfully published a clinical study with ADA (American Diabetes Association) on more than 180 patients, one of the largest from India and the first Digital Therapeutics in the world with the unique combination of diet, exercise, and meditation.

Breathe Well–being claims to be unique in its approach to addressing lifestyle diseases such as diabetes through its personalized coach-driven and community support healthcare delivery model. Silicon Valley-based accelerator Y Combinator invested in the company during its winter 2020 batch.

In May 2021, Breathe Well-being also raised $1 million in Pre-Series A round led by 3one4 Capital. Recently, Breathe Well-being raised $5.5 million in Series A led by Accel. The round saw participation from investors like General Catalyst and Scott Shleifer, global managing director, Tiger Global. The funds raised to be used to scale up the tech platform, strengthen the coaching academy, and for team expansion.

Their holistic program offers personalized interventions based on diet, exercise, and stress reduction that help people with type-II diabetes to control their blood glucose levels, reduce HbA1c and eventually stop all medications. The program has intensive 1 on 1 coaching with a Breathe certified Health Coach, a community for peer-to-peer support, and an interactive game design to keep individuals motivated on their journey of diabetes reversal. With the help of their experts and their program, they aim to create a diabetes-free future for India.

Verma believes that due to COVID-19, there has been a massive increase in demand for digital solutions from people with type-II diabetes as they are at risk of severe illness if impacted by COVID. Staying indoors because of frequent lockdowns and anxiety has also led to an increase in their glucose levels. Both these factors combined with a surge in familiarity with digital solutions have led to an increase in demand for digital therapies.

Over the last few months, Breathe Well-being has been seeing significant traction both on the users and coach’s side. To accommodate the rising interest in the program, the company will strengthen its coaching academy and will be hiring at twice the pace from earlier. While focusing on their patient-first approach, in the long-term, they plan to extend their digital therapeutic offerings to other chronic conditions, such as hypertension, PCOS, gut disorders, etc. and establish Breathe Well-being as a leading global player in the market.

“India has over 70 million diabetics making it the highest affected number in the World. It has been reported that 24 per cent of people across age groups are prediabetic. The company is on a mission to help 10 million Indians over the next 5 years to reverse and manage type-II diabetes while building a trusted and loved community for people with chronic conditions,” he mentioned.