Today Vira Health, a digital health company focused on improving long-term health for women, has raised around €1.7 million in seed funding from LocalGlobe, MMC Ventures, and angel investors including Megumi Ikeda, Managing Director, Hearst Ventures, Andrea Zitna of Elvie, former Spotify executive Sofia Bendz, founder of GoCardless Matt Robinson, and Simon Lambert, former CTO, MOO.com, and Treatwell.
Vira Health was founded in 2020 by Andrea Berchowitz and Rebecca Love. Vira Health’s mission is to make high-quality personalised menopause care accessible to all women. Their ultimate vision is to improve healthy life expectancy for women by reducing the prevalence of later life conditions such as osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and dementia. Stella, the first product from Vira Health, a personalised app for menopause relief, has launched today and will be available on iOs next week. The funding will be used to invest further in product development and to expand the team.
Stella supports women through personalised menopause treatment plans rooted in scientific research and the ability to talk to a trained coach for support. Each woman using Stella gets a personalised treatment plan based on her specific symptoms. For example, if she is dealing with sleep disturbances and urinary incontinence, her Stella plan would combine cognitive behavioural therapy, pelvic floor exercises and other guidance related to lifestyle and behaviour change. Plans are 12 weeks, giving users time to learn, practice and embed new habits. In addition to the treatment plans, the Stella platform has articles, recipes, mindfulness meditations, exercise suggestions and access to virtual events such as yoga classes or a Q&A with a gynaecologist.
Menoause affects most women at midlife, typically occurring at age 51, although many experience symptoms well before that. The impact of menopause symptoms on daily life can be hugely debilitating, affecting both personal and professional life. Menopause often hits at a critical point for women in the workplace. In their late 40s and 50s, many women are stepping into senior leadership roles and this coincides with symptoms like hot flushes, insomnia, joint pain, anxiety and depression. Over 80% say that symptoms interfere with their daily life, and nearly half say that it makes work difficult or near impossible. In the UK, menopause is responsible for about 14 million lost working days and 1 million premature career exits.
Andrea Berchowitz, co-founder, Vira Health, said: “At Vira, our vision is to fundamentally transform long term health and wellbeing for women. We believe better menopause care is the first step. Female health issues have historically been under-researched and under-invested, and this remains the case today. There is an opportunity to use technology to redress this balance by improving the collection and use of female data in healthcare. This first round of seed funding is a step towards realising our vision.”
Dr Rebecca Love, co-founder, Vira Health said: “Menopause is a time point in a woman’s life where you can fundamentally change the trajectory of her lifelong health. It seems outrageous that we have not been focusing on this before. Stella is about getting women the relief and support they need for immediate symptoms like sleep issues, incontinence, mood swings, hot flushes and many others as well as setting them up for the best brain, bone and heart health in later life.
Every woman’s menopausal experience is different. The symptoms she deals with are unique and fluctuate, she has her own preferences around treatments. What most women seem to have in common is that there is never enough time. A digital solution that is personalised to her symptoms and brings high quality specialist advice such as pelvic floor physiotherapy, cognitive behavioural therapy and nutrition guidance to her on her own device and own time is critical to her finding relief.”
Remus Brett, Investment Partner, LocalGlobe said: “Menopause represents a major phase of a woman’s life and the current healthcare system struggles to provide the multi-faceted and long-term support that women need. We are thrilled to back the Vira team on their vision for personalised, science-backed support and treatment. We’ve been extremely impressed by the evidence-based and user-focused approach Andrea and Rebecca have adopted, and we believe this positions them to build a category leader.”
Alexia Arts, Investor, MMC Ventures, said: “At MMC Ventures, healthcare is a key area of research and investment. We see a huge potential in capturing and harnessing data insights to reshape the way that healthcare is practised and delivered. This is particularly relevant in female healthcare where there is a well documented gender data gap that needs to be addressed. Andrea, Rebecca and the wider team at Vira Health have the passion, expertise and vision to transform the provision of healthcare and long term health outcomes for women, starting with menopause. We’re delighted to be partnering with them in the months and years ahead.”
Prior to launching Vira Health, Andrea Berchowitz was an Associate Partner at McKinsey & Company, working in women’s health across the public and private sector, and led Middle East operations for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Rebecca holds a PhD in Medical Sciences from the University of Cambridge and has extensive experience in chronic diseases and is a trained behavioural epidemiologist. She has worked with the Mayor of London, World Health Organisation and UNICEF advisory.