Consumers are more empowered than ever to take their health and wellness into their own hands. The mass adoption of wearable devices and the proliferation of consumer health data services provided the basis of this emerging do-it-yourself (DIY) health movement. Laila Zemrani refers to this confluence of consumer technological advances and healthcare trends as the era of the Quantified Self. She and her cofounder, Çağatay Demiralp, started Fitnescity, “a platform that offers various lab tests for fitness, nutrition and general health.” The New York City-based startup recently launched a new partnership with Quest Diagnostics and brought on Devon Kennard, an American football linebacker for the Arizona Cardinals of the National Football League (NFL), as an investor in the company.
Fitnescity cofounder and CEO Zemrani says, “Fitnescity was founded to give people access to the information they need to improve their health and wellness. Never has this mission been more important. We are delighted to expand our services to include more tests. This is a great step towards our vision of building the largest platform of wellness tests. The new blood panels for fitness, diet and nutrition will be completed through Quest Diagnostics® with a physician’s order. Quest Diagnostics offers health screenings at over 2,200 nationwide Patient Service Centers. Participants will be able to schedule a screening appointment at a time convenient for them and get their results within days.”
The main problem for consumers is obtaining easy access to health and wellness testing and a centralized, intelligible platform for personal data analytics. The most common time that such data is made available to them is during either a routine or emergency health visit with a primary or urgent care provider. The information provided to health professionals to be relayed to their patients is usually structured so that the latter cannot understand without the former’s expertise. Wearables provide basic information, such as your heart rate or the number of calories burned. Still, they do not track more interesting data that users would be interested in monitoring over time. In addition, providers of consumer health and wellness tests are fragmented across the market. Individuals have to manually input and keep track of the information from these tests in a spreadsheet or some other means of organization. The absence of more in-depth health data accessible via consumer-friendly lab tests reflects massive, unmet demand.
McKinsey reports the value of the global wellness market to be $1.5 trillion. Breaking down the market further, the management consultancy reports that 50% of wellness spending in the U.S. is on health. Business Insider’s research reveals $300 billion was spent on health and personal care by U.S. consumers in 2015, with projected industry revenue approaching $350 billion by 2020. Going back to the McKinsey article, 70% of money spent on wellness in the U.S. was on consumer products, with the remainder going to services. Assuming the percentage of spending on products versus services holds for every wellness spending subcategory, a reasonable estimate for the current U.S. consumer health product market would be $245 billion. Consumers are in demand of a convenient solution to meet their DIY healthcare desires.
Zemrani and Demiralp have created a streamlined online platform to help consumers select lab kits, get tested, and display their data on a digital dashboard. The well-designed shop-to-dashboard pipeline makes it easy for customers to quickly collect information on their health and take action to improve their vitality by making lifestyle changes. Fitnescity offers individual health and wellness tests or a lab panel of tests assessing different metrics related to wellness, nutrition and performance. The startup’s partnerships with various testing facilities enable them to process user samples at scale and deliver results in a timely fashion.
Kennard states, “My favorite thing about Fitnescity is their high standards. They are partnering with some of the best medical facilities, doctors, and offices across the country with over 160 locations and growing. It’s great for me considering I travel so much. I like to know I can be anywhere in the country and be able to get the same quality service. The next thing I love is the dashboard of results. I’ve gotten a lot of labs done overtime in college and professionally with the NFL but the results are never provided in a comprehensive way I really understand or in a format/way that I can revisit and track myself overtime. I don’t want to have to go to a doctor to understand what my labs mean. I want to be able to look at it and revisit it at any time and Fitnescity has allowed me to do so.”
The most promising value-add of the startup is its in-house digital dashboard. Fitnescity may seem to be a vertically integrated startup controlling all stages of the consumer data lifecycle, but they do not create the lab kits or process them. The company functions as an aggregator of these key services, fully leveraging their value with their dashboard that collects, organizes, and presents the results in a user-friendly format. The dashboard essentially functions as a moat that ties the benefits of Fitnescity as a lab test aggregator and provider of personal health data analytics. Without Fitnescity, users will neither be able to take their health data elsewhere nor will they be able to access a suite of tests all in one location easily. With a strong team to perfect their product further, Fitnescity has the potential to grow into a multi-billion dollar business.
Zemrani’s and Demiralp’s backgrounds allow them to create a powerful product for a lucrative market. According to her LinkedIn profile, Zemrani studied engineering and management at Télécom ParisTech and obtained her MBA for MIT’s Sloan School of Management. She was an early employee at Dataxis before starting Fitnescity. Demiralp earned his Ph.D. from Brown University in Computer Science and was a visiting researcher at Columbia University and MIT. He also worked as a senior research scientist at Megagon Labs prior to launching Fitnescity with Zemrani. With Fitnescity, consumers can take control of their health and know their bodies better than they ever have before by having easy access to health and wellness tests and personal data analytics.