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Exclusive: Ness grabs $15.5 million for healthy rewards app

Lucinda Shen
May 10, 2022
Illustration of an app square with an icon of a healthy person, and a red notification circle with a star.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Ness, the maker of a fintech app that rewards users for healthy behavior, raised $15.5 million in seed funding, the company tells Axios exclusively.

Why it matters: Behavior is notoriously difficult to change in the long-run. Ness is among a growing number of fintech and healthtech companies trying gamify the process and make consumers adopt healthier habits.

Details: Will Ventures led the round and was joined by Core Innovation Capital, Accomplice, Digitalis, GFC, Portage, Refactor Capital, Atypical and RiverPark Venture.

  • Other companies in the space include Paceline, which raised $29.5 million last year for its app that rewards users for physical activity, and YuLife, which raised $70 million last summer.

How it works: Consumers connect their credit card to the Ness rewards app and are given points for money spent at "healthy" places like Sweetgreen, the doctor's or Barry's Bootcamp.

  • Those points can in turn be used on gift cards or at one of Ness' 4,000-person network of health coaches, dietitians, therapists and doulas (which Ness got via acquisition from Wellcare).
  • Later this year, Ness plans to launch a credit card that would allow the company to generate revenue from interchange and additional credit card fees.

Of note: The end game for CEO and co-founder Derek Flanzraich is to create an alternative to insurance.

  • "In this country, the vast majority of people actually get health insurance from their employer," Flanzraich says. "The problem with that is that you're with your employer for a short period of time, so there's essentially no incentive for a health plan to care about your long-term health."
  • By incentivizing consumers to get healthier early on, Ness believes it can lower the chances of chronic illness as well as the cost of health care.
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