Caraway raises $10.5 million to make integrated health care accessible to 10 million female college students

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While most college students are insured, many are unable to access health care and mental health services because student health centers are inaccessible and often ill-equipped to handle the diverse needs of college students from today. For female students, the problem is more acute. College is supposed to be a time of discovery and growth, but 75% of students with anxiety and depression never seek treatment, leading to outcomes like dropping out of school, poor academic performance, and substance abuse, culminating in a poor general health. Caraway is an integrated digital health clinic for women in college that makes healthcare (mental, physical, and reproductive) accessible through its app. The platform provides 24/7 access to doctors to help students without the need to wait days or weeks often found in the overburdened university health system that is generally not suitable to handle a variety of concerns. Follow-ups with physicians and nurse practitioners are available as is access to educational resources, self-guided programs, referrals, and home testing and treatment options. College student health centers tend to be staffed largely by residents with limited experience; Caraway offers a team of gynecologists, psychiatrists, adolescent medicine specialists, nurses, therapists, and trainers to offer a holistic experience. The company, which was founded earlier this year, recently came out of stealth and plans to launch this coming academic year.

AlleyWatch caught up with Caraway CEO and Co-Founder Lori Evans Bernstein to learn more about the business, the company’s strategic plans, the recent funding round, and much, much more…

Who were their investors and how much did they raise?

Our $10.5 million seed round was led by 7wireVentures Y omers Businesswith the participation of Hopelab Companies and key angel investors including Trevor Price, Oxeon Investments, Elliot Cohen, PillPack Co-Founder, Brian Regan, Deena Shakir, Partner at Lux Capital, Missy Krasner, Aike Ho, Partner at ACME, Doug Hirsch, CEO of GoodRx, Kate Ryder , CEO of Maven Clinic and prominent angel investor Leslie Schrock.

Tell us about the product or service that Caraway offers.

Created with students for students, Caraway provides college+ women with the first integrated healthcare services solution that prioritizes the needs and concerns that arise during this key window of developmental age.

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The Caraway app, available on both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store, will provide 24/7 access to virtual mental health, reproductive health and physical health care for members, which will allow them to:

  • Chat with a care team doctor for any type of health care issue
  • Schedule a telemedicine appointment with a doctor or nurse practitioner
  • Connect to in-person care by actively helping students with care referrals, coordination, and follow-up.
  • Learn about and access the most relevant personalized content for college+ women and the healthcare interactions they are experiencing
  • Participate in our self-guided care programs and therapy visits
  • Access “home” test kits for diagnosis and treatment of UTIs and STIs

Caraway raises $10.5 million to make integrated health care accessible to 10 million female college students Lori Evans Bernstein carawayWhat inspired the start of Caraway?

There is a social and medical imperative to provide care for college women. We recognize that there was a dissatisfaction for university women+ and that there are inadequate care options. We have all been reading the tragic headlines about the student health crisis and hearing family, friends and colleagues recount their own struggles.

Fortune recently reported that “60% of college students are living with mental health disorders and schools are woefully unprepared.” And now the mental and physical health challenges facing many women in college have gotten even worse with the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Women’s bodily autonomy and health are no longer their decision and choice. Furthermore, unplanned pregnancy is one of the main reasons that female students drop out of university.

At the heart of Caraway’s plan is fundamentally changing the way college women experience the health care system. Today, based on hundreds of interviews we’ve conducted, college women often don’t know where to turn when they have a problem, have trouble getting appointments for routine health needs, spend countless hours waiting for an appointment at the student health center or urgent care and experience deep frustration and risk because they can’t get the care they need.

These are tough times in healthcare, especially for women+. Even before Roe was rescinded, there were persistent barriers and inequities in women’s health. As we begin Caraway’s journey, my sincerest hope is that we become a trusted and treasured port in the midst of the storm for many of the more than 10 million college women we hope to support.

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How is caraway different?

The heart of Caraway’s plan is to fundamentally change the way college women experience the health care system. Women are historically neglected when it comes to their health care needs.

While there are many digital women’s healthcare companies, Caraway is a women’s healthcare provider that directly targets college+ women, providing them with integrated mental, reproductive, and physical healthcare.

Caraway provides college+ women with the first healthcare solution that prioritizes the needs and concerns that arise during this window of developmental age.

Created with students for students, Caraway’s care services are evidence-based and provided 24/7 so that women of all races, ethnicities, gender identities and sexual orientations can feel supported and educated in making health care decisions.

What market is Caraway targeting and how big is it?

We are addressing the health care of university women +. Health care services on college campuses are not meeting the demand of the US population of approximately 10 million college women+. Caraway’s TAM is expected to be $7.3 billion by 2026.

Caraway raises $10.5 million to make integrated health care accessible to 10 million female college students Lori Evans Bernstein caraway digital health platform women college.001

What is your business model?

Our business model is B2C2B. At launch, we will market directly to college women+. We will also be working directly with universities and health plans.

How are you preparing for a possible recession?

We are well aware of the downturn in the economy. Given the situation of women, especially with the repeal of Roe v. Wade, there are persistent barriers to care that need to be addressed.

What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?

There is a social and medical imperative to provide care for college women. We recognize that there was a dissatisfaction for university women+ and that there are inadequate care options.

The COVID-19 pandemic ushered in endemic depression and anxiety, and a terrifying escalation in suicidal ideation and suicide. A 2021 Healthy Minds Network study of the mental health of college students found that 34 percent of respondents had an anxiety disorder and 41 percent reported depression. For students considering dropping out, a new report shows that 71% cited emotional stress as a key factor.

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Even before the annulment of Roe vs. Wade, there were persistent barriers and inequities in women’s health and a need to ensure greater availability of care for college women. The new reality facing women in many states makes the need even more critical. Reproductive health and mental health go hand in hand, and the end of Roe makes the campus mental health crisis worse. And it cannot be ignored that unplanned pregnancy is the most common reason for dropping out of college.

The need for robust college+ women’s health services that provide high-quality clinical care has intensified and has never been clearer. We have long known that physical health affects mental health and vice versa, and that the best care addresses these needs simultaneously. Now more than ever, we need healthcare solutions that uncover early diagnoses and set the course for lifelong healthcare habits and overall wellness.

The need for robust college+ women’s health services that provide high-quality clinical care has intensified and has never been clearer. We have long known that physical health affects mental health and vice versa, and that the best care addresses these needs simultaneously. Now more than ever, we need healthcare solutions that uncover early diagnoses and set the course for lifelong healthcare habits and overall wellness.

What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?

We are launching on college campuses this fall at the start of the 22/23 academic year.

What advice can you offer to New York companies that don’t have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?

Consider increasing debt to expand your runway.

Where do you see the company heading now in the short term?

We are launching on college campuses this fall at the start of the 22/23 academic year. We are initially launching in New York, California, North Carolina, and Ohio, and will serve as many women as possible.

What is your favorite restaurant for outdoor dining in New York?

Café 12 Chairs.


Caraway raises $10.5 million to make integrated health care accessible to 10 million female college students 2021 NYC TECH INFLUENCERS

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