Chicago Startup Retrofit Raises A Series B To Make Us Healthier


There are quite a few fitness startups cropping up.

Apps like RunKeeper and MyFitnessPal¬†monitor your exercise or diet. Sites like Daily Burn offer subscription access to fitness classes. And, of course, there’s wearable tech. Fitbit, Fuelband, and Atlas¬†are just a few examples of the tech you can wear to monitor activity levels.

Chicago-based Retrofit aims to take weight loss to the corporate level, offering employees of large companies like Google and discounted rates to try the program. Retrofit incorporates some of the startups mentioned above, specifically Fitbit, as well as one-on-one coaching sessions with a dietitian, exercise physiologist, and behavior coach.

There are plenty of weight loss programs that focus on corporate clients. Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig both have corporate arms and years of brand recognition. So, what makes Retrofit any different?

According to the Retrofit team: results.

In their first 12 month “cohort,” more than 90% of participants lost significant weight. The average weight loss was almost 20 pounds, which equals a 9% of overall body weight.

On the heels of that success, Retrofit announced a $5 million Series B on Friday. The round is led by Cambia Health Solutions, but includes participation from previous investor Draper Fisher Jurvetson. This announcement brings Retrofit’s total funds raised to $15 million.

“Retrofit is thrilled to announce additional venture funding from Cambia Health Solutions and DFJ,” Retrofit CEO Jeff Hyman said in a statement. “These two companies prioritize investments based on creating value through the innovative use of technology.”

It’s true that tech and wellness are seeing some interesting mergers these days. Data mania is growing, and everyone wants to be able to measure success. I find Retrofit particularly interesting because it merges that data (through Fitbit) with real human interaction. The digital coaching sessions can help make sense of the data and create actionable plans for improvement. By putting the program in a corporate environment, participants might also have the built-in support system of colleagues going through the same experience.

However, like any fitness program, there are some other things to consider.

For one thing, most of the participants were male. Most weight loss programs are marketed to and used by women, so this is a huge win for Retrofit. It also skews the results a little bit, because men lose weight faster than women.

Second, the true success of weight loss doesn’t come at the end of the program. It comes a year or two later, when participants are still at their goal weight. Let’s face it. For most people, the actual losing weight isn’t very hard, especially if you have the right program, support, and motivation all aligned. The real challenge is keeping the weight off so you’re not in a yo-yo of weight loss and gain.

To be fair, most of Retrofit’s clients lost the majority of the weight in the first 6 months and spent the next 6 months maintaining and losing a little more. The year-long program (as opposed to a few months) could carry huge benefits on the road to weight maintenance.

With a successful trial run behind them, and an infusion of cash, Retrofit has plenty of time to continue to improve it’s product. While the company is targeting corporate clients, you don’t have to work for a big company to utilize the service. Check out Retrofit here for more info.


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