Calibrate raises $22.5M to help people lose weight with biology and telemedicine

Steven Loeb · January 26, 2021 · Short URL:

Since launching in June, Calibrate has seen an average revenue increase of 54% month-to-month

Saying that Americans are overweight isn't exactly news, but the numbers are pretty startling: according to the CDC, over 42 percent of adults over 20 would be considered obese, and over 73 percent would be at least considered overweight. When it comes to children and adolescents, over 20 percent of children 12 to 19, and those aged 6 to 11, are considered obese. It's over 13 percent for those aged 2 to 5 years old.

Yet, at the same time, diets do not work; 80 percent of people don't maintain weight loss for a full year. They are likely to regain, on average, more than half of the weight they lost within two years.

Calibrate is a company that is taking a new approach to weight loss, helping people by doing what it calls a "metabolic reset," and offering all of its services through telemedicine. It's an approach that is catching on with users, and now with investors.

On Tuesday, the company announced it closed a $22.5 million Series A led by Emily Melton at Threshold Ventures, with participation from existing investors including Forerunner Ventures and Redesign Health. This brings Calibrate's total funding to $27.6 million. 

What Calibrate offers is a digital metabolic reset that is designed for each person's biology, combining metabolic medication prescribed through telemedicine and one-on-one video coaching. A metabolic reset, as defined on Calibrate's website, "is a whole-body reset that sets up every part of your system to have a healthy response to food, sleep, exercise, and emotional triggers." 

"Our mission is to change the way the world treats weight. Up until now, consumers and health plans have been spending billions of dollars to battle weight loss each year, yet people aren’t losing billions of pounds. Science has proven that focusing on willpower is ineffective. We have to change the conversation to focus on biology and improving a person’s metabolic health," Isabelle Kenyon, the company's founder and CEO, told me. 

The company makes sure that its program "precisely translates the approach that science has shown to work and have built a clinical advisory board of leading experts in metabolic health," which includes the president of the World Obesity Federation as well as an obesity medicine physician scientist, educator, and policy maker at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School who spoke before the American Medical Association right before they voted to classify obesity as a disease.

"The same minds that have been making the greatest strides in the fight for metabolic health have been working with Calibrate to create a tool to help win that fight," said Kenyon.

To use Calibrate, members have to complete a comprehensive health assessment and have a full set of metabolic lab markers drawn. They then visit with their Calibrate doctor by video, and begin regular video visits with their coach to move through a one-year plan to make tiny tweaks to the way they eat, sleep, exercise, and manage their emotional health.

Since launching in June, the company has grown its revenue by an average of 54 percent month-on-month and grown its team from 10 to 52 employees. It has also doubled the number of states where we it's currently available; Calibrate is now live in New York, California, Texas, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Illinois and Ohio, and the plan is to target the entire country by January of 2022.

Kenyon attributes part of the reason for the company's growth on the COVID pandemic; while the entire telemedicine space saw tremendous growth overall in 2020, it was especially important for customers with other comorbidities and risk factors. 

"COVID-19 has both brought our metabolic health epidemic to the forefront of our conversation and increased consumer adoption of telemedicine. Poor metabolic health is the key risk factor for COVID-19 morbidity," she explained. 

Calibrate's funding will be used to expand the company's technology platform, and the company also plans to use the data it has collected to help improve patient outcomes going forward. 

"Today we’re focused on clinical outcomes for our members and how we scale those outcomes over time. Next, we’re focused on how we use our data to improve the clinical efficacy of our program and develop the first national registry of real-world evidence in the largest category of chronic disease."

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