Forget about wearing your Apple Watch to track your health. Levels is the biowearable that provides real-time feedback on how your diet and activities directly impact your health. Through continuous glucose monitoring, which has traditionally been reserved for those with diabetes, the company is on a mission to address the rising rates of metabolic dysfunction in the US by monitoring the effects of your food choices. To initially onboard users, the company offers a one-month metabolic awareness journey that includes a telehealth consultation, two continuous glucose monitoring sensors, and access to the Levels app for metabolic insights and analytics and will launch a subscription option for the hardware and software next year. If you’re looking to try it, you may have to wait a bit; the current waitlist exceeds 44,000.
AlleyWatch caught up with founders Casey Means MD (Stanford MD), Josh Clemente (SpaceX, Hyperloop), Sam Corcos, (CarDash, YC), David Flinner (Google), and Andrew Conner (Google) to discuss the importance of metabolic health, the company’s plans to expand the team across engineering, operations, and marketing, and recent funding round.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
We raised a $12M Seed round led by A16z (partner leads were Jeff Jordan and Vijay Pande) with participation from angel investors including Marc Randolph (cofounder and first CEO of Netflix), Dick Costolo (former CEO of Twitter), Michael Arrington (Founder of TechCrunch), and Matt Dellavedova (NBA Champion, Cleveland Cavaliers).
Tell us about the product or service that Levels offers.
Levels is the first biowearable to provide real-time feedback on how your diet impacts your health. By leveraging continuous glucose monitoring technology, the Levels program helps users close the loop between health and daily choices around food, exercise, sleep, and stress management. Levels is the first app that can connect “what you ate” and “impact on health” in real-time.
What inspired the start of Levels?
Metabolic dysfunction is rampant and has reached epidemic-level proportions. 72% of the U.S. population is overweight or obese, U.S. life expectancy has dropped for 3 consecutive years, seven of the 10 leading causes of death are strongly related to metabolic dysfunction, and many researchers have recently begun referring to Alzheimer’s Disease as “Type 3 Diabetes”. Blood sugar dysregulation and metabolic dysfunction are also tied to nearly every major chronic disease and symptoms we’re seeing today: heart disease, stroke, chronic pain, depression, anxiety, infertility, erectile dysfunction, acne, premature aging, and more.
Levels gives people the tools they need to improve their health. Our vision is to provide integrated technology that tracks every meaningful metric related to metabolic health and longevity in near-real-time and to provide actionable feedback on how individuals can improve their lives.
How is Levels different?
Level is a first-of-its-kind innovation and the next logical evolution of fitness tracking. Until now, you could track activity, sleep, and heart rate with products like the Apple Watch or Oura Ring. With Levels, you can now directly track the impact of food on your health.
What market does Levels target and how big is it?
Continuous glucose monitoring technology has historically only been available for diabetic individuals, and we’re bringing that technology to the much larger market of healthy people who want to improve their lives.
- $600B – Expected medical costs attributable to metabolic dysfunction by 2030
- $536B – Preventative and personalized wellness spending
- $58B – Wearables market
- $51.5B – Global blood testing market
What’s your business model?
Levels sells direct-to-consumer and our customers go through a 1-month metabolic awareness journey that includes a telehealth consultation, two continuous glucose monitoring sensors, and access to the Levels app for insights and analytics. In 2021, Levels will expand this offering to include a subscription product with monthly access to both the hardware and software to track your metabolic health on an ongoing basis.
How has COVID-19 impacted the business?
Now more than ever, people are paying attention to their health and are looking for ways to measure it. Additionally, metabolic dysfunction – including blood sugar dysregulation and obesity – has been shown to be one of the most significant risk factors for poor outcomes and death from COVID19, so more people are recognizing that now is the time to improve blood sugar. The vast majority of cases of blood sugar dysregulation and obesity are entirely preventable, and often reversible, so we need to be focusing on this aspect of our strategy against COVID-19.
The public conversation around how to strengthen one’s immune system through diet and lifestyle factors has increased considerably and we’re seeing this heightened awareness reflected in demand for our product. As of the end of October, the Levels waitlist was at 44,000 and continues to grow at an increasing rate.
To date, the majority of the public health focus with COVID has been on sanitation, social distancing, mask-wearing, and vaccine development. While these are all important measures, this focus is too narrow and reactionary in the face of the large body of research supporting nutritional and behavioral interventions to rapidly improve glucose levels and inflammation. The “fight” against COVID-19, and any future pandemics, will be most effective through a serious commitment to improving everyone’s foundational metabolic health.
What was the funding process like?
The funding process was unique given the circumstances of COVID, but we focused on what we could control and kept a high cadence of communication. Investors were offered an opportunity to experience the beta product and we shared a large amount of documentation providing transparency into all facets of our business.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
Typically, much more of the trust-building process can be done synchronously through face-to-face meetings and conversations. This was nearly impossible given COVID, which forced us to rethink our strategy and lean more heavily on open documentation and regular, comprehensive updates to keep current and potential investors up to speed at all times.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
Two primary factors:
- The scope and scale of the new biowearables market Levels is creating
- The quality of the team is second to none. Our team is well-positioned to execute on the full potential of this technically complex new space, and we are continuing to attract truly world-class talent with our mission and culture.
The quality of the team is second to none. Our team is well-positioned to execute on the full potential of this technically complex new space, and we are continuing to attract truly world-class talent with our mission and culture.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
In the next six months, we will continue to grow the team in key areas across engineering, operations, and marketing, continue execution of our beta product and research plans, and deepen hardware integrations.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Spend time getting to know your customers. At Levels, we interview every individual who participates in our early access program – understanding both their motivations going into the program and their feedback once they’ve completed it.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
At a high level, our goals are to:
- Build premium software to quantify the effect of diet on metabolic health.
- Use that money to expand awareness and scientific understanding of metabolic health; build a more affordable product.
- Use that money to build an even more affordable product.
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