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An Enugu State-born doctor in the Uk featured in Forbes for his innovation in Digital Therapeutics Startup Helping People Improve Digestive Health.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), a group of symptoms including abdominal pain and changes in the pattern of bowel movements without any underlying damage is one of the most common issues many people face, often chronically with few long term solutions. Individuals who face IBS often suffer from discomfort at school, work, or in social settings which can have a detrimental impact on well-being. However, a growing number of studies are showing the positive effects Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can have as a long term solution to this problem. Historically, CBT has been expensive and if taken through most national healthcare providers in Europe can take a long time to receive. One startup utilizing technology to provide this type of therapy but through your smartphone is Bold Health, founded by Dr. Jossy Onwude and Elena Mustatea.
Founding Bold Health
Dr. Onwude and Mustatea met at the Zinc VC which is a mission-driven accelerator program that finds ambitious entrepreneurs who are seeking to solve some of the world’s toughest problems. Dr. Onwude has an extensive background working in various countries in the medical sector whilst Mustatea has a background in finance, first in Investment Banking at JP Morgan and then as a venture investor at Atomico. Given their skill sets they felt they would be a great fit and whilst thinking through problems to tackle Elena mentioned her experiences with IBS during a relatively stressful period of her life and how going on a yoga retreat and learning about CBT enabled her to “manage her symptoms and free herself”.
However, cognizant that their solution would come under scrutiny from the medical field they conducted studies and partnered with elite universities to validate that this solution does work and could be scalable. Their primary study was carried out with the University of Pennsylvania and it proved the efficacy of their solution, a major milestone for the pair which further increased their conviction.
The first solution the team built which has launched in the app store was Zemedy an app that has a 10-week course where you can discover CBT techniques to not only manage your symptoms but to treat them long term. The course includes effective ways to manage stress and anxiety through therapies that help you understand yourself and your triggers. The app has over 10,000 users to date, many of whom have come from word of mouth seeking a solution and it currently has a 4.7/5 ranking in the app store.
After proving customer validation the team is now in the process of rolling out an updated version that will be offered to individual consumers and also enterprises such as employers of health insurers.
Looking to the future the pair have a pipeline of conditions in the digestive health space and beyond that, they feel CBT can be used for. They have partnered with leading investors such as Plug & Play, Sogal, and LearnCapital as well as strengthened partnerships with leading universities such as UPenn, Stanford, University of Manchester, and Charite. The team truly believe that “technology has enabled us to lower the barrier to entry for this type of treatment so many more people can have a digital companion to guide them through dealing with these constant, sometimes chronic ailments and this will help users live happier more fulfilling lives”.