In engaging with our health, so many of us are reactive instead of proactive. The Chapel Hill and Newton, Mass.-based startup Well Dot, Inc.—which operates publicly under the name Well—enables people to take more control over their health journey with the platform’s AI-driven health engine.
Well was added to Scot Wingo’s 2020 Tweener List, not long after it announced in November that it would be spending $3.1M to build an HQ in Chapel Hill and create some 400 jobs over the next dozen years.
Co-Founders David Werry (President and COO) and Gary Loveman (Chairman and CEO) met through a UNC connection. At the time, Loveman was the CEO of Caesars Entertainment Corporation, a large casino gaming company, and Werry worked in the investing side of healthcare.
Loveman served as a mentor to Werry and ultimately recruited him into health insurance company Aetna. This is where their journey to form Well really began, as both founders had a vision of transforming healthcare by enabling members with greater visibility and support. Ultimately Aetna was acquired by CVS, which spurred the pair to put their vision into action.
“It was at that point that we kind of looked around and realized that we were really passionate about better serving individuals and their health,” Werry said, “and we had a lot of learnings from the three years that we were doing this inside of one of the large insurance companies. We decided to build what we think is the right kind of disruptive answer from scratch.”
The answer came in January 2019 when Well was founded. For now, Well has three beta customers in employers who provide it to employees as an added benefit, with about 1,000 users on the platform. In a few months, Well will launch a direct-to-consumer platform where individuals can buy access to Well themselves.
One-Stop Shop For Health Needs
Well’s offering has been designed as a member-friendly experience and a personalized, trusted health guide, Werry said. Whether members come for questions about a bill, what an EOB (explanation of benefits) is, to find a doctor or for behavioral health or pharmacy needs, Well is there.
“We’re routing people to telemedicine where they have needs and it makes sense,” Werry said. “So it’s meant to be a single front door and a one-stop shop for our members around all of their health needs and goals.”
With 85 employees on the books, Well is growing fast and also raised $25 million in November from VC firm General Catalyst, prominent VC John Doerr, several partners from the private equity firm Hellman & Friedman and Mosaic Health Solutions, which is a division of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina.
“Our vision and passion is around individuals having access to the right care and the right support in their health journey,” Werry said. “And today, unfortunately the system’s incredibly complicated and oftentimes misaligned to the individual around what’s best for them. So our passion is around giving access to really everybody, ideally, to be able to have the right support and trusted guide for whatever they have going on in their world, whatever their health needs are.”
As they look ahead to growth this year, Well is focused on scaling membership and on their full launches of both the employer and direct-to-consumer offerings. But like any business, Well was impacted by Covid-19, although in their case it may be in a beneficial way.
“In the longer term, we view this as a very big positive for our platform,” Werry said, “because the interest and awareness of having better options, having more virtual care, having a trusted health guide that’s helping navigate the system and provide additional support is really on most people’s minds right now.”