Mobile-enabled weight loss company for kids Kurbo Health raises $5.8M

By Brian Dolan
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Kurbo Health iPhone appPalo Alto, California-based Kurbo Health, which is developing a mobile-enabled program aimed at preventing childhood obesity, has raised $4 million new funding in addition to the $1.8 million we reported on in May. The round was led by Signia Ventures and other investors include Data Collective, Bessemer Venture Partners, Promus Ventures, and angel investors: Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube, and Greg Badros, former VP of Engineering and Product at Facebook. Kurbo also has some funding from the Rock Health accelerator, which is joined late last year.

In addition to the funding announcement Kurbo has commercially launched its program for iOS users today. An Android version is planned for launch in September. After the free trial period, a Kurbo subscription can cost anywhere from $10 a month to $75, depending on the plan chosen and amount of coaching included.

Kurbo Health cofounder and CEO Joanna Strober started the company with Thea Runyan, a lead behavior coach at Stanford’s pediatric weight control program. According , Strober describes the program as offering "proven tracking methodologies and virtual coaching to help adolescents control their weight using their favorite tool — their cell phone". Strober was inspired to found the company after trying to help her son lose weight.

"There really aren't any good weight loss programs out there for kids other than ones that are run through hospital-based programs, but they are very expensive and very time-consuming," Strober said in a video . "There are... great university-based programs that have been very effective in helping kids to lose weight. We wanted to replicate the best of those programs in an online-mobile system." 

The Kurbo Health program is designed for users aged 8 to 18, but is intended to create a supportive environment at home so the entire family participates. The app offers a manual entry food tracker that assigns colors (red, yellow, and green) to different foods so that children understand at a basic level which foods are healthy and unhealthy. Kurbo also offers games, a section to view progress, and challenges. Users receive feedback and coaching via video and text alerts within the app based on the foods they track. The app also offers encouragement and recommendations.

Kurbo Health's onboarding program lasts 10 weeks before transitioning into a behavior maintenance program. Children and their families use the web portal and app to track their eating habits and also participate in weekly individual, online coaching sessions that last 10 minutes. The company's coaches include teachers, parents, and fitness instructors who have past experience working with children.

During the program Kurbo Health encourages children to build their exercise up to an hour per day. The company says the total time commitment a child will spend using Kurbo each day will vary, but will be less than half an hour.

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