San Diego Equip Pockets $58 Million for Eating Disorder Telehealth Platform, With Katie Couric Media Support
San Diego startup Equip, which provides telehealth treatment for people with eating disorders, has raised $58 million in a second round of investment that includes backing from Katie Couric Media and the star soccer player Alex Morgan.
Founded in 2019, Equip plans to use the money to scale its telehealth technology, expand to all 50 states, expand insurance coverage and launch new services.
Last year, Equip saw a 10-fold increase in demand, gaining momentum thanks to a focus on relapse prevention and lasting recovery, according to co-founder and chief executive Kristina Saffran, who suffered from anorexia at the time. ‘adolescence.
To date, 10 major insurers provide coverage for Equip’s telehealth services for up to one year. They include Partnership HealthPlan, a provider of Medicaid coverage for underserved communities.
The virtual service is available in more than 40 states, up from three a year ago.
“Eating disorders are the second deadliest mental illness, affecting one in 10 Americans — but the stigma attached to the disease prevents tens of millions of people from getting help,” Saffran said. “Equip’s mission is to ensure that every person has access to treatment that works.”
Saffran, who founded the nonprofit Project Heal when she was 15, started the business with Dr. Erin Parks, a clinical psychologist and researcher at UC San Diego’s Eating Disorders Center.
According to Equip, 80% of the 30 million Americans struggling with eating disorders never receive treatment. The COVID-19 pandemic has made matters worse, with hospital admissions related to eating disorders doubling in the past year.
The company’s approach is rooted in an evidence-based, outpatient therapy called family treatment. It recognizes eating disorders as brain disorders that require a comprehensive program to fully heal.
Equip provides families with a five-person team that includes family peers and mentors, a physician, therapist and dietitian. Its clinicians are not contractors. They work for Equip. The company employs around 120 people.
“We’ve processed hundreds of patents and are nearing the end of being able to say hundreds,” Parks said. “One of the things that’s exciting is the diversity of these families. Seventy-five percent of these families have already received a treatment that did not work for them. But we have a quarter of our families who have never had treatment.
This latest financing brings the total capital raised by Equip to $75 million. The round was led by Groupe Chernin. Other new investors include Tiger Global and General Catalyst, as well as existing investors F-Prime Capital, Optum Ventures and .406 Ventures.
Katie Couric Media invested alongside US Women’s National Team striker Alex Morgan. Couric, who revealed in a new book that she struggled with bulimia as a teenager, is joining Equip as a counselor.
“This year is about changing the cultural conversation in terms of eating disorders,” Saffran said. “Since a big part of having an eating disorder is not knowing how sick you are and not wanting to get better, it’s the people around you who need to get you into treatment. These include parents and mothers. So it’s very important to have America’s mother involved.