Quit Genius, backed by Y Combinator, wants to help you quit smoking


Image Credits:

Quitting smoking is one of the most difficult things a person can do. But despite the products out there to help, from nicotine patches and gum to e-cigarettes to scary PSAs and government programs, few of these products actually get people to the point where they feel confident in their new nicotine-free life.

That’s where a new YC-backed company, Quit Genius, comes in.

Yusuf Sherwani (cofounder and CEO), Maroof Ahmed (cofounder and COO), and Sarim Siddiqui (cofounder and Head of Product) met seven years ago on the first day of medical school. The med students were assigned to a respiratory clinic, and saw first-hand just how much smoking affects the well-being of patients.

In an interview with TechCrunch, Ahmed recalled time at the respiratory clinic, watching doctors tell patients to quit smoking but not giving them any meaningful pathway to do that.

The idea of Quit Genius had been born.

In the United States alone, there are 40 million smokers. Quit Genius says that 70 percent of those smokers want to quit, but only 3 percent are successful. Most smokers take the cold-turkey approach, trying to throw away their cigs and never look back. But this is not an effective way to quit.

Meanwhile, cessation therapy treatment (which is highly effective) is very expensive, ranging from between $2,000 and $4,000.

Quit Genius aims to bring that treatment to users at a much lower cost through an app.

It all comes back to a therapeutic technique called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

“CBT breaks down situations into three areas: your thoughts, your feelings and your behaviours,” said Ahmed. “What you think and feel can affect how you behave. CBT focuses on replacing any negative thoughts and feelings you may have that trigger you to smoke, with healthier and more positive thoughts that will help you to quit smoking.”

Quit Genius uses this technique to help users quit smoking in stages, offering animated videos, audio sessions and interactive exercises to help people understand how smoking affects them and how to stop.

Without asking you to quit immediately, the first stage of Quit Genius simply asks users to tell the story of why the started smoking and try to identify smoking triggers, while teaching users what CBT is and how it can help.

In the second stage, Quit Genius aims to inform the user about how nicotine affects the body and mind, and prepare the user for hurdles that they may face when trying to quit.

Quit Genius uses users’ triggers to inform them about their misconceptions about nicotine. For example, many people smoke because they say it helps with stress. If stress is your trigger, Quit Genius will explain that nicotine is actually a stimulant, which increases heart rate and blood pressure and ultimately stokes stress levels.

Stage four is all about taking action. Users will set a quit date and using those videos, audio sessions and exercises to prepare your body and mind for the big day.

The final stage focuses on sustaining what users have built, staying strong as cravings continue.

Alongside the main treatment, Quit Genius also offers a Smoking Diary (where users can track their cigarettes to help identify triggers) and a Coping Toolbox, which lets users grab one of those mindfulness exercises or relaxation techniques on-demand in their moments of weakness. Quit Genius also comes with a community of fellow quitters (which is monitored by doctors and psychologists, to let users connect with one another in their path to quitting.

The base Quit Genius costs $4/month. But Quit Genius also has a premium layer, Quit Genius Gold, which gives users personalized, one-on-one support from a qualified Quit Coach at any time. The Gold service costs $15/month.

A recent independent study carried out by researchers at Imperial College London (where the founders met and studied) showed that 36 percent of participants who used Quit Genius quit smoking, and users who did not quit smoking still saw a 69 percent reduction in the amount of cigarettes they smoked.

What’s more interesting is that Quit Genius is prepared to take on other categories. CBT is seen as the gold standard for any big behavior change, and the company can use their current process to take on other addictions as well as simple lifestyle changes like eating habits or exercise.

Quit Genius has raised $900K from Y Combinator, Merck & Co, Telefonica, and Force Over Mass Capital. The app is available now on the App Store and Google Play.

More TechCrunch

Welcome back to TechCrunch’s Week in Review. This week had two major events from OpenAI and Google. OpenAI’s spring update event saw the reveal of its new model, GPT-4o, which…

OpenAI and Google lay out their competing AI visions

Expedia says Rathi Murthy and Sreenivas Rachamadugu, respectively its CTO and senior vice president of core services product & engineering, are no longer employed at the travel booking company. In…

Expedia says two execs dismissed after ‘violation of company policy’

When Jeffrey Wang posted to X asking if anyone wanted to go in on an order of fancy-but-affordable office nap pods, he didn’t expect the post to go viral.

With AI startups booming, nap pods and Silicon Valley hustle culture are back

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

A new crop of early-stage startups — along with some recent VC investments — illustrates a niche emerging in the autonomous vehicle technology sector. Unlike the companies bringing robotaxis to…

VCs and the military are fueling self-driving startups that don’t need roads

When the founders of Sagetap, Sahil Khanna and Kevin Hughes, started working at early-stage enterprise software startups, they were surprised to find that the companies they worked at were trying…

Deal Dive: Sagetap looks to bring enterprise software sales into the 21st century

Keeping up with an industry as fast-moving as AI is a tall order. So until an AI can do it for you, here’s a handy roundup of recent stories in the world…

This Week in AI: OpenAI moves away from safety

After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine

IndieBio’s Bay Area incubator is about to debut its 15th cohort of biotech startups. We took special note of a few, which were making some major, bordering on ludicrous, claims…

IndieBio’s SF incubator lineup is making some wild biotech promises

YouTube TV has announced that its multiview feature for watching four streams at once is now available on Android phones and tablets. The Android launch comes two months after YouTube…

YouTube TV’s ‘multiview’ feature is now available on Android phones and tablets

Featured Article

Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

CSC ServiceWorks provides laundry machines to thousands of residential homes and universities, but the company ignored requests to fix a security bug.

2 days ago
Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is just around the corner, and the buzz is palpable. But what if we told you there’s a chance for you to not just attend, but also…

Harness the TechCrunch Effect: Host a Side Event at Disrupt 2024

Decks are all about telling a compelling story and Goodcarbon does a good job on that front. But there’s important information missing too.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Goodcarbon’s $5.5M seed deck

Slack is making it difficult for its customers if they want the company to stop using its data for model training.

Slack under attack over sneaky AI training policy

A Texas-based company that provides health insurance and benefit plans disclosed a data breach affecting almost 2.5 million people, some of whom had their Social Security number stolen. WebTPA said…

Healthcare company WebTPA discloses breach affecting 2.5 million people

Featured Article

Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Microsoft won’t be facing antitrust scrutiny in the U.K. over its recent investment into French AI startup Mistral AI.

2 days ago
Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Ember has partnered with HSBC in the U.K. so that the bank’s business customers can access Ember’s services from their online accounts.

Embedded finance is still trendy as accounting automation startup Ember partners with HSBC UK

Kudos uses AI to figure out consumer spending habits so it can then provide more personalized financial advice, like maximizing rewards and utilizing credit effectively.

Kudos lands $10M for an AI smart wallet that picks the best credit card for purchases

The EU’s warning comes after Microsoft failed to respond to a legally binding request for information that focused on its generative AI tools.

EU warns Microsoft it could be fined billions over missing GenAI risk info

The prospects for troubled banking-as-a-service startup Synapse have gone from bad to worse this week after a United States Trustee filed an emergency motion on Wednesday.  The trustee is asking…

A US Trustee wants troubled fintech Synapse to be liquidated via Chapter 7 bankruptcy, cites ‘gross mismanagement’

U.K.-based Seraphim Space is spinning up its 13th accelerator program, with nine participating companies working on a range of tech from propulsion to in-space manufacturing and space situational awareness. The…

Seraphim’s latest space accelerator welcomes nine companies

OpenAI has reached a deal with Reddit to use the social news site’s data for training AI models. In a blog post on OpenAI’s press relations site, the company said…

OpenAI inks deal to train AI on Reddit data

X users will now be able to discover posts from new Communities that are trending directly from an Explore tab within the section.

X pushes more users to Communities

For Mark Zuckerberg’s 40th birthday, his wife got him a photoshoot. Zuckerberg gives the camera a sly smile as he sits amid a carefully crafted re-creation of his childhood bedroom.…

Mark Zuckerberg’s makeover: Midlife crisis or carefully crafted rebrand?

Strava announced a slew of features, including AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, a new ‘family’ subscription plan, dark mode and more.

Strava taps AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, unveils ‘family’ plan, dark mode and more

We all fall down sometimes. Astronauts are no exception. You need to be in peak physical condition for space travel, but bulky space suits and lower gravity levels can be…

Astronauts fall over. Robotic limbs can help them back up.

Microsoft will launch its custom Cobalt 100 chips to customers as a public preview at its Build conference next week, TechCrunch has learned. In an analyst briefing ahead of Build,…

Microsoft’s custom Cobalt chips will come to Azure next week

What a wild week for transportation news! It was a smorgasbord of news that seemed to touch every sector and theme in transportation.

Tesla keeps cutting jobs and the feds probe Waymo