More than 100 million people in the U.S. live with diabetes or pre-diabetes, and that number is growing. Virta Health co-founder and CEO Sami Inkinen decided to do something about that. In 2011 the avid exerciser and co-founder of the real estate listings company Trulia won his age group at the Ironman 70.3 World Championships. He also found out he had pre-diabetes. Disillusioned with the usual advice to lose weight, eat less and exercise more (none were really applicable to him), he decided to do his own research and connected with Drs. Stephen Phinney and Jeff Volek, experts on the science of carbohydrate restriction and metabolic health.
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In 2014 Virta Health was launched with the goal of reversing type 2 diabetes in 100 million people by 2025. At the core of the company is the Virta Treatment plan. It offers patients continuous medical supervision, personalized dietary guidance and health coaching, supplies and biomarker tracking. With a high-fat, low carbohydrate diet, combined with regular monitoring and coaching, the company claims it has sustained type 2 diabetes reversal in 60% of the patients who completed the treatment after one year and 94% of patients saying they had reduced or fully eliminated their insulin usage.
The Virta Treatment plan costs $370 per month (after a one-time $500 initiation fee), but an increasing number of employers and health plans are picking up the costs for those individuals enrolled. So confident is Virta that its treatment model works, the company announced a new payment model for its institutional customers last year. Health insurers and self-insured companies only have to pay for patients on the program who have improved health outcomes.
So far, Virta has raised $82 million, including a $45 million Series B round from investors including Venrock, Obvious Ventures and Founders Fund.