As patients look beyond doctors' offices for health, the $4.5 trillion wellness industry is booming.
Technology and social media has made wellness services from nutritional foods to community clinics more accessible as providers rethink their approach to how they brand themselves.
These are among the forces transforming the booming industry Upfront Ventures Partner Kevin Zhang, Sequoia Consulting Group Wellbeing Director Kaleana Quibell and Remedy Place CEO & founder Dr. Jonathan Leary told dot.LA during a strategy session on Tuesday.
Kevin Zhang, Partner at Upfront Ventures
Kevin Zhang, Partner at Upfront Ventures<p>Kevin Zhang is a Partner at Upfront Ventures, the largest and longest-serving venture capital firm in Los Angeles with $2B in assets under management. Kevin focuses on healthcare, life sciences and interactive media. Prior to Upfront, he worked at The Boston Consulting Group, where he advised on strategy and operations for technology, automotive and healthcare clients in the US and Asia, and Cotiviti, where he built SaaS products for healthcare payors and providers. Kevin studied Biology at Harvard College.</p>
Kaleana Quibell, Wellbeing Director, Sequoia Consulting Group
Kaleana Quibell, Wellbeing Director at Sequoia Consulting Group<p>As the Wellbeing Director at Sequoia Consulting Group, Kaleana is responsible for the needs assessment, vendor selection, and rollout strategy of competitive benefit and wellbeing programs for some of the world's most innovative tech companies. This approach includes a holistic analysis of employees' needs and gaps in care, particularly focusing on the physical, emotional, financial and social wellbeing of the employee and their family.<br><br>Kaleana has over 10 years experience in the Total Rewards sector, with a background in recruiting & onboarding, benefits & human resources, and employee wellbeing program design. With BA degrees in Psychology and Communications, she also earned a MA degree in Organizational Psychology, focusing on workplace engagement and motivation. She was humbled to be recognized as one of EBA's 2017 Most Influential Women in Benefit Advising this year for her role in Sequoia's innovative approach to holistic wellbeing with her clients, and has spoken on various panels and conferences including SXSW.</p>
Dr. Jonathan Leary, CEO & Founder at Remedy Place<p>Over the past 9 years, Dr. Leary has pioneered cutting-edge techniques that optimize the body's natural ability to heal. From day one, his groundbreaking private practice has had a wait list that includes a wide range of celebrities, professional athletes, entrepreneurs, and executives.</p><p>In addition to his private practice, Dr. Leary is a highly sought after global health and wellness speaker who's expertise has been featured in a wide range of prestigious media outlets, from Forbes and ABC to Vogue. He has given corporate wellness talks for Fortune 100 companies, such as Delta Airlines, as well as hosted retreats at the Cannes Film Festival and across the globe.</p>
Rachel Uranga, Senior Reporter at dot.LA
Rachel Uranga, Senior Reporter at dot.LA<p>Rachel Uranga covers the intersection of business, technology and culture. She is a former Mexico-based market correspondent at Reuters and has worked for several Southern California news outlets, including the Los Angeles Business Journal and the Los Angeles Daily News. She has covered everything from IPOs to immigration. Uranga is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism and California State University Northridge. A Los Angeles native, she lives with her husband, son and their felines.</p>
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When CEO Andrew Farah co-founded Density in 2014 with a team of Syracuse graduates, their initial goal was to avoid waiting in line at their favorite downtown coffee shop. Syracuse averages 104 feet of snow a year and they got tired of trudging through the cold only to wait 15 minutes for Sumatra drip coffee and bagels. Being engineers and designers, they thought there had to be a better way. They spent the next few years building a system that, as it turned out, is perfectly suited to the current COVID-19 era: A way for companies to monitor precisely how many people are occupying a given space.
"We don't take pride in the fact that a pandemic has accelerated distribution," Farah said. "But we take pride in the fact we can help in a small way to keep people safe."
Since COVID, Density has seen revenue shoot up more than 500%. Prior to the crisis, the company had seen growth of around 40% each quarter. Warehouses, grocery stores, meat processing plants and casinos all signed-up, eager to find a way to limit capacity.
Density announced Tuesday it has raised $51 million in Series C funding led by Kleiner Perkins, with participation from 01 Advisors, Upfront Ventures, Founders Fund, Ludlow Ventures, Launch, and DTA. Former MLB All-Star Alex Rodriguez also invested. Prior to this round, Density had raised $23 million, bringing total funding to date to $74 million.
Before the pandemic struck, Density saw considerable demand from companies who wanted to increase security and better utilize their office space. An estimated $1 trillion of rented office space sits empty in the United States and Farah says employees and managers are not very good at knowing what space they need and what is a waste of money.
"Most organizations were largely flying blind about how they design buildings," said Farah. "Buildings have been designed based on 150 or 200 square feet per employee, but that's just a best guess or observation."
When Verizon bought Yahoo in 2017, it used Density to figure out which desks and conference rooms it could get rid of to save on rent. Clients also include a who's who of tech companies such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Uber, Salesforce, Google, Amazon and Uber as well as Nike, Booz Allen Hamilton and the U.S. government.
While some might see the technology as intrusive surveillance, Farah says Density actually provides more privacy because its proprietary depth sensors and deep learning algorithms do not use anything that could identify who a person is, making companies reliant on traditional surveillance cameras that record a worker's every move.
"The most sophisticated companies in the world don't want to spy on employees," said Farah. "They want to preserve employee privacy."
Mark Suster, managing partner of Upfront Ventures, says he was drawn to Density as part of his thesis that computers are better at making decisions about the physical world than humans. He's invested in more than half a dozen companies along those lines including Nanit, which makes smart baby monitors, and Ring, a smart home monitoring system that was bought by Amazon for more than a billion dollars in 2018.
"Our investment in Ring was really about computer vision because Ring's initial selling point was, 'it's not just a camera for your front door but it has the ability to interpret the surroundings around you'," Suster said. "It can say if it's your dog, or leaves or someone who shouldn't be in front of your house."
Suster sees similar promise in Density, which he says can do everything from helping airlines board planes more efficiently to making sure restaurants and hotels are deploying staff when they are needed most.
"Ultimately, we're an enterprise software company," he said. "We allow people to predict how people are going to move around spaces. And people have started signing multimillion dollar contracts."
Interestingly for a company that helps other companies better utilize office space, Density has been fully distributed since 2014, with 50 employees spread out across five countries and 15 states.
"I had wondered if we should all be in the same place," said Farrah, who is now based in San Francisco.
Join us at 11 a.m. Thursday, July 23rd for our next edition of "Female Founders Stories: to Live and Work in L.A." We'll talk with Tea Drops co-founder and CEO Sashee Chandran along with Skylar CEO Cat Chen.
Join dot.LA chief cost and correspondent Kelly O'Grady as we talk with women leaders and entrepreneurs here in the L.A. startup community. We will be exploring how they got started, triumphed over challenges, as well as their favorite success stories and what they love most about living and working in L.A.
Sashee Chandran, Founder & CEO at Tea Drops
Sashee Chandran, Founder & CEO of Tea Drops<p>Sashee is founder and CEO of Tea Drops, which creates bagless loose leaf teas — shedding about 20% less waste than traditional tea bag packaging. Tea Drops has become a favorite among new and experienced tea drinkers alike, launching innovative tea experiences that merge flavorful blends, food art and edgy design. Tea Drops are now available in close to 1,500 retailers — and are loved by Oprah Magazine, Chrissy Teigen, and former first lady Michelle Obama. Sashee is a 1st Place $20K WFN Fast pitch winner, 1st Place $100K Tory Burch Fellow Grant winner, and the 1st place $50K PepsiCo WomanMade Challenge winner. She has also raised over $2.5M in VC funding for Tea Drops. </p>
Cat Chen, Founder & CEO of Skylar
Cat Chen, Founder & CEO of Skylar<p>Founded in April 2017, Skylar is affecting change in the dirty and unregulated $46 billion fragrance industry by creating a whole new world of better-for-you fragrances and body care products. Skylar products are clean, hypoallergenic, and cruelty-free. Our products are inspired by women and a portion of our proceeds go toward Step Up, a non-profit organization benefiting women. In addition to creating innovative products, we're also creating a more convenient and personal way to shop, content that helps women lead a clean lifestyle, and a supportive and engaged community.<br></p><p>Skylar is backed by Upfront Ventures, FirstMark Capital, Amplify LA, and Gingerbread Capital. Other notable investors include Brian Lee (The Honest Company Founder), Karen Katz (former Neiman Marcus CEO), Jake Kassan (Mvmt Watches Founder & CEO), and Jeff Kearl (Stance Socks Founder & CEO).</p><p>Cat started her career in management consulting at Bain & Company and continued honing her skills at Apple and Activision Blizzard. She earned a BS in Management Science from MIT and an MBA in Marketing and Operations from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.</p>
Kelly O'Grady, Chief Host and Correspondent
Kelly O'Grady, Chief Host and Correspondent at dot.LA<p>Kelly O'Grady is dot.LA's chief host & correspondent. Kelly serves as dot.LA's on-air talent, and is responsible for designing and executing all video efforts. A former management consultant for McKinsey, and TV reporter for NESN, she also served on Disney's Corporate Strategy team, focusing on M&A and the company's direct-to-consumer streaming efforts. Kelly holds a bachelor's degree from Harvard College and an MBA from Harvard Business School. A Boston native, Kelly spent a year as Miss Massachusetts USA, and can be found supporting her beloved Patriots every Sunday come football season.</p>
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