Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.
An erectile dysfunction startup raised $88m to help smokers kick their stinky habit. The Hustle Sponsored by Ro, an erectile dysfunction startup, raised $88m to help you quit your smoking habit Spoiler alert: Smoking is bad for you. With 22.5%...
By: Wes Schlagenhauf
September 19, 2018
An erectile dysfunction startup raised $88m to help smokers kick their stinky habit.
Ro, an erectile dysfunction startup, raised $88m to help you quit your smoking habit
Spoiler alert: Smoking is bad for you. With 22.5% of all adults bangin’ heats on the reg, it’s the most prevalent addiction worldwide and the cause of disease for more than 16m Americans.
Now, a New York-based telehealth startup, known for selling ED medication online, has raised $88m to launch a new product to help people quit smoking.
Ro rolled out Zero, a $129 “Quit Kit” that contains a month’s prescription of the cessation medication bupropion, nicotine gum, and -- of course -- a progress tracking app designed to keep quitters motivated.
The startup formerly known as ‘Roman’
Roman was founded 11 months ago, raising $3m in 2017 (back when it had only 5 employees) to launch as an online ED medication platform.
Today, according to TechCrunch, the newly renamed ‘Ro’ (cuz it ain’t just for “man” anymore) has grown to 70 employees and a revenue run-rate in the “10s of millions” -- up a whopping 720% since January.
Investors see Zero as a sure bet, but doctors… not so much
Many medical professionals have pointed out that the $129 Quit Kit is fairly expensive compared to other alternatives, and they don’t take insurance.
Forbes notes that, under the Affordable Care Act, most health insurance plans are required to cover at least 3 months of an FDA-approved smoking cessation medication.
What Ro really sells is convenience
Nobody wants to talk to their doctor about the sniffles, let alone erectile woes, and with Ro’s cloud based services, Zero’s biggest selling point is that people can do all of this from their computer.
According to CEO Zachariah Reitano, no one has ever come out with a product that provides both the medication and behavioral therapy for quitting cigs. Until now.
With Zero, smokers get everything they need to help curb their habit all at once, so they can focus on the true challenge: Not putting the cancer stick in the mouth hole.
The future of Big Pharma?
Move over, Monsanto: Ag-tech startup Indigo raises another $250m to grow farming’s future
Yesterday, Indigo Agriculture, an ag-tech startup, announced it closed a $250m fundraising round at a $3.5B valuation. The company sells microbe-coated seeds that increase yields 15% -- and recently sprouted a 2nd product, Indigo Marketplace.
With $6B of grain listed already, Indigo’s marketplace is growing faster than a dandelion on pesticides -- proving ag startups can hang with big dog Monsanto.
Cultivating trust to cultivate wheat
To win over the change-resistant farming industry, Indigo offered farmers seeds for 7 major crops for free, charging after the seeds produced. Indigo quickly won contracts with thousands of farmers across 1m acres.
But, Indigo realized its seeds weren’t living up to their full value: Outdated commodities markets were forcing producers to sell grain for a flat price -- preventing farmers from differentiating themselves and buyers from finding great grains for foods.
So Indigo decided to make these farmers a new market
Indigo Marketplace allows grain-iacs to search for grains based on protein content, milling quality, or organic certification and buy directly -- empowering farmers to earn more for their high-quality grains.
Since the marketplace launched in June, farmers have posted more than $6B worth of grain (and sold more than $2B). In the last year, Indigo increased sales 8x.
In the past, 95% of ag-tech exits ended in acquisition (thanks to the dominance of Monsanto and other ag-giants). But with $609m in the bank and microbial ag investment on the rise, Indigo may actually get to reap the fruits of its own labor.
In the world of digital ownership, there’s a fine line between ‘buy’ and ‘rent’
Last week, Anders Goncalves da Silva let loose a tweetstorm recounting the time Apple deleted 3 purchased movies from his iTunes account.
After the tweet flurry went viral, Apple offered da Silva 2 free 48-hour movie rentals for his trouble, which is, truly, so sweet.
But, if you pay $20 apiece to “buy” movies instead of $5 for renting…
Shouldn’t you have control over your purchase?
Da Silva’s tweets sent a shockwave across the platform, but the spat over digital ownership has been long contested.
While it’s fair some content may be unavailable for sale on a country-to-country basis (da Silva lives in Canada), it definitely seems… less than fair for digital retailers like Apple and Amazon to straight up nix content from a consumer’s cinema treasure chest after purchase for seemingly no reason at all.
It’s not fair, it’s business
Since the beginning of digital time, companies like Apple have had a “licensed, not sold” clause buried deep within its 7k-word license terms that denies consumers the right of possession, use, and transfer with ownership.
In it, they address “deleted services,” and spoiler alert, they “reserve the right” to take your sh*t. The problem is, studies show that “Buy” buttons have proven to mislead consumers over the extent of their ownership.
The equity gap: Research shows women at startups have 1/2 the equity male peers do
New research shows that female employees at startups own $0.47 in equity for every $1 owned by male employees. This study, by equity-management firm Carta, reveals the gender pay gap extends far beyond salary.
This ‘other’ pay gap
Five decades after the Equal Pay Act required employers to pay men and women equally for equal work, average salaries are still unequal: Women earn $0.82 for every $1 earned by men.
But, by focusing on a subset of 180k employees and 15k founders at 6k private, equity-granting companies, this research illuminates another pay gap: equity.
While women make up 35% of equity-holding employees, they only hold 20% of the equity. For female founders, it’s worse: Founding women had $0.39 in equity for every $1 of man-quity.
Inequity (noun): The lack of fairness or justice
Since equity is often more valuable than salary when a startup succeeds, this equity gap is a trap that keeps on taking.
In some cases, equity discrimination is blatant: At certain tech companies, female hires got half the equity for the same role as male peers despite identical salaries. But Carta’s CEO (a guy) explains that women are also underrepresented in high-equity leadership roles.
To address this leadership vacuum, California recently proposed a law requiring public companies -- 20% of which don’t have women on their boards -- to get at least 1 woman on board. But for now, it’s up to startups to do a better job of hiring women at every stage of growth.