Quit Genius, the YC-backed startup that uses cognitive behavioral therapy to help folks quit smoking and vaping tobacco products, has today announced the close of an $11 million Series A round.
The new funding was led by Octopus Ventures, with participation from Y Combinator, Startup Health and Triple Point Ventures.
Quit Genius was built by doctors — Yusuf Sherwani (co-founder and CEO), Maroof Ahmed (co-founder and COO) and Sarim Siddiqui (co-founder and head of product) — who met on the first day of medical school. They saw the terrible effects of smoking on patients’ health but didn’t see doctors giving those patients a clear path to quit smoking.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is seen as one of the more effective treatments for breaking addiction, helping patients focus on their thoughts, feelings and behaviors and understanding how one affects the others. The Quit Genius app helps users recognize when a negative thought or feeling pops up, and replace those triggering thoughts and emotions with more positive, healthier thoughts. This is done through various types of content, such as audio sessions, animated videos and interactive exercises.
The company also offers a device that can pair with the app to test users’ breath and help hold them accountable to their goal of quitting.
Quit Genius has already made headway with its smoking and vaping products, and is going to use the funding to expand into other types of addiction, such as alcohol and opioid addiction.
Alongside its consumer-facing product, Quit Genius also offers an enterprise product to businesses that are looking to foster a healthy workforce and also save money on healthcare for employees. Unlike most enterprise wellness programs that charge per person per year (regardless of utilization or engagement), Quit Genius only charges by engagement (employees who use the program) and offers a 25% quit rate guarantee.
In other words, if 25% of enrolled users don’t achieve their goal of quitting, Quit Genius will partially refund fees. Thus far, the company hasn’t had to do that, reports CEO Sherwani.
Sherwani added that the company has signed up 15 enterprise clients, split between self-insured employers and health plan providers.
Beyond the funding and expansion into other forms of addiction, Quit Genius is also trying to do its own part as the novel coronavirus pandemic spreads across the globe. Noting the high-risk status of smokers, Sherwani said that the company will offer its product for free to new sign-ups through April so that they can quit smoking immediately.
Founded by doctors, Quit Genius prioritizes efficacy. The company has enlisted independent research studies to show the success rate of its product, the results of which have been published in peer-reviewed journals. According to that research, more than 60,000 people have quit smoking, with a 53% quit rate, which is higher than other quit-smoking techniques.
The startup has raised a total of $13.6 million from investors listed above, as well as Eric Ries, Serena Williams’ Serena Ventures, Venus Williams and Instacart co-founder Max Mullen.