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There are a plethora of food delivery startups to choose from out there, from GrubHub to HelloFresh, Plated, Blue Apron and Doordash and probably a bunch of others that I could name. They all do a variation of the same thing, though: they tell you what food they have available, you tell them what you want from their list of items or restaurants, and they deliver it to you. What none of them do, however, is take the individual, and their specific health needs, into account.
Enter KAIGO, a platform that designs a meal plan that is tailored to each person's individual health needs, then delivers that those dietitian-designed meals to their door.
On Monday, the company announced a $3M round of seed funding from angel investors including Mike Lee, Founder of MyFitnessPal, and Micromanagement Ventures. This is KAIGO's first funding after being bootstrapped for the past four years.
The original idea for KAIGO came from when a member of founder Uzochukwu Chima's family was diagnosed with what he describes as, "a debilitating illness that our medical team simply couldn’t get to the root of."
"As hope began to fade, I began examining every angle of how his disease was being managed. Were we doing enough?" he told VatorNews.
"Throughout all the doctor visits and Rx plans, I came to the realization that there was no protocol in place to try and invoke a major health change via any nutritional components. I decided that something needed to be done to put nutrition at the forefront of medical care - in order to help not only my loved one, but to help so many other families as well. And so in 2014, I began building KAIGO with that goal in mind."
The company's core belief is that proper nutrition is one of the most vital elements of curing and preventing disease, he said, and the more he learned about chronic diseases, "the more passionate I became about finding a nutrition-focused solution."
To use KAIGO, a user has to complete an initial questionnaire and begin an assessment, after which a KAIGO medical partner will then review their bloodwork and medical history, identifying their individual health needs. After that, a KAIGO partner dietitian will develop a personalized nutrition plan designed to support that person's health goals.
The company uses artificial intelligence to arrange each person's personalized meal plans that are designed, sourced and prepared by its local chefs and restaurant partners, which include The Beet Table, ABC Cocina and The Butcher’s Daughter in New York City, as well as Kitava, Stone Mill Matcha and Little Gem in San Francisco. While meal delivery is right now only available in those two cities, users can still access KAIGO's team of care professionals services anywhere in the United States, who will construct a personalized health plan for them.
So far, thousands of members participated in KAIGO's pilot program, and the company has partnered with over 1,300 medical providers across the country, from care systems like Mount Sinai Hospitals, to NYU physicians and doctors and private practice groups from 12 states in the U.S. in order to help create meal plans.
"Combining those resources with our technology platform allows for real-time adjustments to be made to your health plan; making goals achievable and forming long term, healthy habits," said Chima.
"KAIGO is the only nutrition platform to offer a medically driven end-to-end solution. Many companies provide meal plans and recommendations, but KAIGO's goal is to make sure that individualized, physician and dietician plans are sourced, prepared and delivered right to your table."
With the new funding, the company plans to provide a wider range of meal options, and to offer meal delivery to more cities throughout the country, expanding to Los Angeles and Washington, DC later this year. The new money will also be used to build out the company’s technology, so that it can provide members with personalized recommendations and menus anywhere in the world.
"No matter where our members are living or traveling on vacation or business, they will have access to make smart food choices and avoid stalling their positive health journeys. With KAIGO, our members can take their health into their own hands and make lasting change," Chima explained.
The ultimate vision for KAIGO is to make it easier for people who have special dietary needs, especially those with chronic illnesses, to find, prepare and eat meals that are personalized for their individual health need. While other food delivery services help with convenience, they stop short of the second part of the equation.
"Existing meal kit companies and food delivery services share the goal of making food choices easy to find and accessible. These delivery options leave one problem on the table, it is still up to the consumer to source food that is best serving their own nutritional and health needs. The insights to these issues do not exist on other platforms," said Chima.
"KAIGO’s platform specifically addresses these with our end-to-end solution that not only provides a medically driven plan, but goes a step further to source, prepare and deliver meals right to members’ tables. We believe this is the most effective way to drive behavior change and prevent chronic disease."
"The big picture is this: KAIGO believes that proper nutrition is one of the most important components of managing and preventing disease. Did you know that chronic illness is the leading cause of death and disability in the US? We can change that. KAIGO is a tool in creating a culture of total care and long term, medically driven results."
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