Axios Pro: Health Tech Deals

November 16, 2022

Axios Pro Exclusive Content

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1 big thing: Ayble seeds $4.6M

Illustration of a golden trophy shaped like a gastrointestinal tract

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Former tech leader Sam Jactel started talking openly about poop two years ago when the 28-year old founded Ayble Health, a virtual care provider for people with digestive diseases.

Why it matters: Ayble Health, which is tackling a large but historically underserved patient group he belongs to, debuted today with $4.6 million in seed funding co-led by Upfront Ventures and M13, Jactel tells Erin exclusively.

  • Jactel founded Ayble after a decade living with ulcerative colitis while working in tech and life sciences.
  • "I basically had 10 years of market research managing this disease," Jactel recalls, "and the standard care approach only treats part of it. Drugs alone aren’t enough."
  • Founder Collective and Inflect Health joined the round.

How it works: Ayble offers a personalized digital care platform for patients and physicians that combines dietary guidance with behavioral health tools, since psychological factors contribute to digestive illness.

  • "We think of ourselves as a way to enhance care wherever it’s delivered," Jactel says.

State of play: Gastrointestinal care is the latest forefront in virtual-first care, following a surge of interest in heart- and metabolic-focused digital health companies. Other startups in the digital GI space include:

  • Vivante Health, which links people to a virtual care team including nurses, registered dietitians and health coaches, in March raised $16 million in Series A funding.
  • Oshi Health, which connects users to a virtual care team led by gastroenterologists, last fall garnered $23 million in Series A capital.

By the numbers: Digestive illnesses are relatively common in the U.S., according to a large population-based study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology by researchers at UCLA and Cedars-Sinai.

  • Gastrointestinal diseases account for more than 100 million hospital visits in the U.S. each year, per the research.
  • Yet fewer than 20% of individuals with abdominal pain, bloating or diarrhea see health care providers about their symptoms, the researchers note.

Between the lines: Despite not having launched formally to the public (the company has a private waitlist and will launch commercially in early 2023), Ayble has published peer-reviewed research.

  • Its main study, while small, suggests that digital tools such as Ayble's program can help boost adherence and engagement rates among people with digestive diseases.

What they're saying: Jactel says that because discussing GI conditions remains awkward, it was important as he started building Ayble to think about a platform that would help people feel seen and heard without disrupting their existing care system.

  • "No one wants to talk about poop. It’s deeply embarrassing for people," Jactel says. "We want to destroy that taboo."
  • M13 investor Morgan Blumberg agrees, telling Axios, "Making this fun and empowering is the vision" of Ayble. "They're not saying 'Come to us instead of your doctor' or trying to disintermediate the system. They're meeting people where they are."

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