SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 22, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Zipongo, which launched the food benefits management category to address chronic disease, today announced that it has extended its total financing to over $50 million with an $18 million Series B1 round led by Seventure Partners, a European leader in venture capital, and by Zaffre Investments, the investment fund of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. Zipongo plans to use the additional funding to expand its nutrition platform beyond wellness to use food as first-line therapy in treating chronic disease.
Since launching in 2014, Zipongo has given millions of employees, health plan members and health system patients access to the Health, Cooking and Restaurant modules of Zipongo Engage to help assess and improve nutrition. The company is now expanding its technology platform to allow health plans and providers to use food to treat chronic disease, through a new solution called FoodScripts. FoodScripts adds specific modules to the Zipongo platform that address conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity and more through prescriptive, personalized, evidence-based nutrition programs. Zipongo plans to roll out an early version of FoodScripts to pilot customers in the early spring.
SVP Product and Marketing and former Castlight and 23andMe leader, Scott Matthews explained: "The first pillar of food benefits management (FBM) is to leverage the power of food perks and frequency of eating versus typical health actions, to more deeply engage employees in their well-being. Our client companies deeply appreciate Zipongo for making it easier to get good food on the table, and eat well."
Zipongo CEO and founder, Jason Langheier, MD, MPH, a student of leading nutrition experts at the Harvard School of Public Health, Duke Medical School and UCSF, discussed the role of Zipongo's nutrition adherence tools beyond wellness: "The second pillar of FBM is enabling the oldest new generic drug - food. More than two centuries ago Hippocrates said, 'Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food,' but it's now easier to fill a prescription than to get clear guidance and support in eating better food. Modern clinical guidelines for treating high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity and diabetes call on physicians to prescribe dietary improvements as either the first line of defense or a key companion therapy in treating these chronic conditions. There is evidence food as medicine in a program like our Zipongo FoodScripts for Metabolic Syndrome not only helps mitigate chronic disease but also provides substantial cost savings to those who pay for health care – patients, employers, insurers and the government."
The company has brought on two new strategic investors to help it realize its vision - Zaffre Investments and Seventure Partners - and added healthcare industry veteran Jason Robart, chief strategy officer of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts and president and CEO of Zaffre Investments, to the Zipongo board of directors. Robart brings more than 20 years of experience in health care, human resources, client relationship development, and sales and product management to the Zipongo board, as well as a deep understanding of how to support and drive progress within health plans and employee human resources groups.
Zaffre Investments' chief operating officer, Tuoyo Louis said: "We see a huge market for solutions like Zipongo FoodScripts that reduce reliance on medications by using food as a first-line therapy for chronic health conditions. Zipongo has a proven track record of improving how people eat, along with deep expertise in nutrition and technology and a unique vision for the future. We're excited to help their growth."
Seventure Partners, a leader in therapeutics, nutrition and health investing, will bring Zipongo added expertise in the global market and financing, as well as investors in its Health for Life Capital™, like Novartis, which elected to back Seventure in the Zipongo financing.
"We see massive potential for Zipongo to use its platform to address chronic health conditions and change how we treat disease," said Oxana Kukhaneva, venture partner at Seventure Partners.
Isabelle de Cremoux, Seventure CEO and Managing Partner, added: "The use of food as medicine is the future of healthcare, and Zipongo is well-positioned to drive that revolution."
"We're thrilled to have the leadership and support of Seventure and the Zaffre team," added Langheier. "Seventure has already been helpful in our expansion to Europe and collaboration with pharma and medical foods companies, and Zaffre is already helping us to encourage health plans to re-think their approaches to how best to reverse the epidemics of obesity and chronic disease and the costs they bring. A proverb even older than Hippocrates says, 'He that takes medicine and neglects diet, wastes the skills of the physician.' With the help of Seventure and Zaffre, we at Zipongo look forward to bringing that ancient wisdom to companies, their employees, and families across the country."
About Zaffre Investments
Zaffre Investments (zaffreinvestments.com), the investment arm of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, is committed to adding value through investments in new products, services and technologies that aim to improve the way healthcare is delivered and received.
About Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (bluecrossma.com) is a community-focused, tax-paying, not–for–profit health plan headquartered in Boston. We're the trusted health plan for more than 25,000 Massachusetts employers and are committed to working with others in a spirit of shared responsibility to make quality health care affordable. Consistent with our corporate promise to always put our 2.8 million members first, we're rated among the nation's best health plans for member satisfaction and quality. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn.
About Seventure Partners
With over €660m in assets under management as of the end of 2016, Seventure Partners is a leading venture capital firm in Europe. Since 1997, Seventure Partners has invested in innovative businesses with high growth potential in two fields: Digital technologies in France and Germany, and life sciences across Europe, Israel and North America. In Life sciences, the four areas of focus include biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, connected health and medtech, industrial biotechnology, and last but not least: the MICROBIOME, nutrition, foodtech and personalized medicine. Investments can range between €500k and €10m per round, or up to €20m per company, from early to late stage. Recently, Seventure Partners successfully launched Health for Life Capital™ which has attracted strategic investments from prestigious organizations including Danone, Tereos, Tornier, Lesaffre, Bel and Novartis, as well as entrepreneurs and financial institutions. For more details: http://www.seventure.fr/en/ Twitter @SeventureP
San Francisco-based Zipongo has opened up the Food Benefits Management (FBM) category to tackle chronic disease. Serving hundreds of companies and millions of members, Zipongo's FBM platform delivers sustained engagement to help people assess and improve their nutrition via the tools of the Zipongo Engage platform, including Health (Digital Dietitian), Cooking (recipes, meal planning, grocery delivery, and discounts) and Restaurants (menus, restaurant ordering, and workplace cafes). In addition, Zipongo FoodScripts fulfills Food as Medicine to drive ROI versus traditional drug and provider-only spending to reduce clinical costs for metabolic syndrome-related diseases, such as diabetes, pre-diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, obesity/overweight and more. To learn more about Zipongo's digital nutrition platform, visit www.meetzipongo.com or request a demo at firstname.lastname@example.org.