Healthtech startup Vira Health has just raised about €10.9 million in new funding to continue its mission to improve women’s long-term health. The funding was led by Octopus Ventures, with participation from Optum Ventures and existing investors. It comes after a €1.7 million boost in 2021.
Founded in 2020 by Andrea Berchowitz and Rebecca Love (member of our most inspirational women list), Vira Health is tackling a massive gap in healthcare – the care offered to women throughout their lives. Women’s health is an underfunded and neglected sector. Vira Health wants to change this, with an aim to bring to market high-quality, personalised menopause care that is accessible to all women. The company’s mission is to extend healthy life expectancy for women by reducing the prevalence of later-life conditions, such as osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and dementia.
“Menopause is a time point in a woman’s life where we can fundamentally change the trajectory of lifelong health,” said Dr. Rebecca Love, co-founder of Vira Health. “It is outrageous that we have not focused on menopause care more.”
Stella is the first digital therapy product from Vira Health and was launched in the UK in 2021. It supports women by offering personalised menopause treatment plans based on their specific symptoms. Stella combines complex guidance around lifestyle and behaviour change into simple, easy-to-follow weekly lessons. It offers the ability to interact with trained experts and a range of additional resources, including guided meditations, educational materials, exercises, recipes, and online classes.
Dr Rebecca Love added: “Stella provides women the relief and support they need for symptoms such as sleep issues, incontinence, mood swings, hot flushes and many others, and helps set women up for better brain, bone and heart health in later life.”
Andrea Berchowitz, co-founder and CEO of Vira Health, explained: “Better menopause care is crucial in the fight for gender equity in the workplace. The Stella app offers women a highly personalised, completely private and always-on treatment option. It is designed for a diversity of companies wanting to expand their employee benefit schemes.”
Menopause is increasingly becoming something that companies care about, and this fundamental aspect of women’s health is finally starting to be taken seriously.
Kamran Adle, health investor at Octopus Ventures commented: “Menopause is an enormous yet underserved and underfunded market. 1 billion women, or approximately 12% of the global population, are expected to experience menopause by 2025, and we’re excited to work with the Vira Health team.”
A study by Vodafone across five countries found that 60% of women dealing with menopausal symptoms said it impacted their work. In a UK study, 30% of women said they missed work due to their symptoms, while 11% passed up a promotion opportunity and 8% resigned from their positions because of menopausal symptoms. Data shows that 75% of women who completed their Stella treatment plans experienced improved symptoms.
In 2020, many workplaces showed an increase in menopause support, through writing new menopause policies, nominating ‘menopause champions’ to signpost employees to information and resources, improving the cut and fabric of uniforms, and more. As companies redefine their benefits more broadly in recognition of mental health and caring responsibilities that resulted from COVID-19, menopause is becoming a bigger part of the conversation.
Vira Health is focused on making Stella available to more women through employer benefits in 2022. The new investment will support the growth of the Stella app in the US market, clinical trials and the addition of medication and telemedicine.
Julia Hawkins, General Partner at LocalGlobe and Latitude, added: “We are pleased to invest in Vira Health. There is a strong interest in menopause care right now and this is a phenomenal team committed to building what women want and need.”