LVNDR, a London-based healthcare technology company dedicated to developing inclusive sexual health solutions for the LGBTQ+ community, announced today that it has closed an oversubscribed approx. 1.7 million seed funding round led by Octopus Ventures, and joined by Calm Storm Ventures, and Soho Ventures (UK), alongside prominent angel investors including Pam Garside, Harry Briggs, Alistair Murray, and Angelia Muller. As a pioneer in the LGBTQ+ sexual health space, LVNDR was born out of a singular need to address inequalities within the sexual health system.
The company was formed in 2020 when three queer co-founders Christopher El Badaoui, Joshua Armistead-Wood, and Araxie Boyadjian came together to build an innovative platform developed specifically for LGBTQ+ individuals.
The three founders have each faced unique personal experiences within sexual healthcare systems. These lived experiences inspired them to commit to the LVNDR mission of creating a digital sexual health care haven for the LGBTQ+ community that transcends borders and spurs positive change in both clinical outcomes and the perceptions around LGBTQ+ sexual health.
Sexual health is an area of healthcare that affects almost every adult. It remains frequently overlooked and often underfunded. The consequences of this are particularly pronounced for the LGBTQ+ community, and affect an estimated 42 million individuals in Europe.
Historically, LGBTQ+ patients have faced significant challenges in receiving affirmative, inclusive, and respectful care as deep-rooted homophobia and transphobia still exists directly or indirectly within healthcare systems. Stonewall’s Health in Britain report found that 1 in 8 LGBT+ people have faced some sort of unequal treatment from healthcare staff. This is compounded further by 2 in 5 trans people experiencing a lack of understanding of the community’s unique healthcare needs, and nearly a quarter (24%) saying they didn’t know how to access the healthcare intervention they needed.
With LVNDR, users benefit from a more personal and adaptive approach to sexual health, which will aid in the reduction of anxiety, distrust, and uncertainty they currently experience. By integrating into, and modernising existing healthcare services through their platform, LVNDR aims to facilitate greater access to tailored remote clinical care, effectively simplifying the process for both the clinician and patient.
LVNDR will use the fresh funds to invest in new product development and scale its commercialisation activities through partnerships with the UK’s leading healthcare providers, as a key next step in the vision to level the playing field. In order to execute on their vision, the company is expanding its team with a focus on key senior roles in product, operations, and partnerships.
As part of LVNDR’s growth, it has also developed a collaboration with a group of local authorities that make up Sexual Health London, the largest remote sexual health service in Europe. The objective of this collaboration is to research the benefit of remote intervention tools within sexual health services, initially starting with medication adherence for PrEP users.
Joshua Armistead-Wood, Co-Founder & COO at LVNDR said: “The work and research done across sexual health generally over the last few decades have been nothing short of exceptional, HIV has gone from being an infection to one that can be treatable and preventable with a few pills and at scale. This is just one example of the new world LGBTQ+ individuals have been lucky enough to inherit. This is in no small part to the efforts of governments, local authorities, and researchers across the globe. However, with a new area comes a new range of challenges, in areas such as engagement, trust, education, and long-term care and this is where the new thinking and tools we’re developing at LVNDR health come in. We’re here to inject innovation and experimentation into the system to support the next generation.”
Will Gibbs, Principal and health investor at Octopus Ventures said: “The two most important drivers for long-term health improvements are patient engagement and long-term adherence, but it’s impossible to achieve meaningful results on these two measures unless patients feel comfortable. Time and time again, when health services are designed by communities for their members, they achieve superior results on both vectors, and my experiences as a gay man have also reinforced this. Once you have been to an LGBTQ sexual health clinic (e.g. Dean Street Express) it is hard to think why a patient would go anywhere else. Building a business where the clinicians understand, and even look and speak like patients is the first step in building a category leading health company that can solve issues that are felt in every country in the world. It is rare to find founders more driven to lead this change than the LVNDR team and, when successful, I hope LVNDR will become the home for any sensitive conversations about LGBTQ health.”
Adrian Kelly Lead Commissioner at Sexual Health London commented: “London is excited to work in collaboration with LVNDR. It’s critical we continue to seek out new perspectives, and innovative solutions if we are to succeed in our mission of transforming Londoners’ sexual health.”
Christopher El Badaoui, Co-Founder & CEO at LVNDR: “Queer and trans individuals have faced systemic discrimination and challenges in receiving an affirmative, inclusive, and respectful environment of care. At LVNDR, we want to change that, turning a feared experience into a celebratory one. We want to empower individuals to feel seen and have control over their health choices by providing access to tailored sexual health and gender identity services through an integrated digital clinic. Having experienced inadequate care first hand, I think it is time we bring about a solution that closes the gap that exists between heteronomative and queer individuals.”