Hero raises $12M to make it easier for caregivers to dispense medication

Steven Loeb · October 16, 2018 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/4c5e

The company has a hardware and a software component, to automatically sort and reorder medications

If you've ever had an elderly relative, or known someone with a chronic disease, the amount of medications that they have to take can be staggering. Keeping track of when to take each pill and at what time and how often can be confusing for anyone, let alone someone who is distracted by constant pain or who has cognitive degeneration. 

It was a situation exactly like that with his own mother, who was ill and, even as a physician, couldn't remember her own medication regime, which led Kal Vepuri to found Hero, a solution for assisting patients and caregivers with taking their medication.

"With my own experiences of caring for my mom, I knew there had to be a way to use technology to ease the daily burden of managing multiple medications and to provide reliable support to caregivers, while addressing some of the obstacles in place from our challenged healthcare system," he told me. Vepuri is a former seed-stage angel investor who had put money into companies that included Warby Parker, Allbirds, Sweetgreen, ClassPass, Color Genomics and Oscar.

Hero, which features both a hardware and software component to help sort pills and to keep track of when they were taken, officially launched on Tuesday, along with a $12 million Series A round led by Brainchild Holdings.

Other investors in the round included Box Group, Third Kind Venture Capital, Refactor Capital, Spider Capital, AngelList co-founder and CEO Naval Ravikant, Slack co-founder and CEO Stewart Butterfield, Greycroft co-founder Alan Patricof, former NBA commissioner David Stern, Away co-founder and President Jen Rubio, Elderplan Chairman Brad Fluegel and ClassPass CEO Fritz Lanman. This is the first funding the company has raised. 

The New York-based Hero offers an in-home medication manager that sorts and dispenses medication. It also comes with software that includes audible and digital reminders, automates refills and provides real-time and historical adherence data.

There are three components to the service, which can purchased for $19.95 per month for two years, and then $9.99 per month after, or for $299.00 plus a one-year pre-paid subscription.

The first part is Hero Device, a countertop device that automatically stores, dispenses and tracks medication, so it can intelligently order refills based on how many doses are remaining, or when the medicine is set to expire. The second component is Hero's mobile app, which helps manage medication and sends notifications to caregivers regarding when medication was taken or skipped.. It also provides real-time access to drug information.

Finally, Hero also provides Hero Fill, which manages the delivery of medication and supplements directly to the home, at no additional cost.

The customer for Hero is the caregiver or loved one who might be taking care of a person with a chronic condition such as Parkinson’s Disease, heart disease, diabetes, cancer or depression. The idea is for Hero to make it easier for them to give care without needing to worry about keeping track of medication. 

"Hero can offer support to caregivers and their loved ones whether they are a spouse, family member or friend. Hero can support simple to highly complex medication regimens, which are often the pain point between caregivers and their chronically ill loved one or patient," said Vepuri.

While there are other companies out there using technology to advance the pharmaceutical space, such as PillPack and Capsule, the difference between those companies and Hero, Vepuri said, is that Hero goes deeper than its competitors by helping with the entire medication journey.

"We looked holistically at the journey to solving medication adherence and proposed a solution for every one of the pain points along the way. This includes dispensing pills, tracking adherence and refilling prescriptions," he told me. 

The other thing that separates Hero is the hardware component, which Vepuri said was a "challenging" aspect for the company to get right. 

"After figuring out that we could make this product functional, and beautiful, we then had to ensure the high-quality engineering of the hardware was accessible and affordable for customers everywhere. It’s very complex for a device to reliably isolate and dispense pills of any size, shape or weight in any environment, as you can imagine," he said. 

The new funding that Hero has raised will go toward product inventory and improving the software, as well as "creating awareness to share the story of Hero and the journey we see ahead." The company is also currently in discussions with commercial partners, including health systems. 

"Our ultimate goal is serve Hero’s customers with an experience that empowers them as caregivers. All the while, we are focused on tackling the rising and troubling issue of medication adherence, a widespread issue facing society today," said Vepuri.

"We are pursuing innovative technology and bringing beautifully designed solutions to the masses. We want healthcare to use a people-first, direct-to-caregiver approach. We want to make healthcare more mainstream."

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