Business

Founders Fund joins General Catalyst in its first investment in a Brazilian health tech startup: Alinea

A startup that works as a compass, helping employees navigate their health benefits, raised $3.6 mln from both funds, in a round also followed by Glen Tullman, CEO at the US unicorn Transcarent, and previous investors.

Fernando Ribeiro, Alinea Health's CEO and co-founder.
Fernando Ribeiro, Alinea Health's CEO and co-founder alongside Willian Menegali. Photo: Courtesy.
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Alinea Health, a Brazilian startup created in the middle of last year and that acts as a middle ground between corporate health benefits and employees, guiding them on how to navigate between services and reducing costs for companies, announced this Wednesday (16) a $3.6 million round led by the Founders Fund and General Catalyst. It is Founders Fund’s first investment in a Brazilian health tech startup.

“We know that the [Latin American] market is superheated, and there are several ways to raise [funds], but you have to know who you want to reach. We managed to bring in the Founders Fund, a fund that has already invested in companies like SpaceX and Airbnb, and General Catalyst, a fund that has been investing in health for a long time. We also brought Glen Tullman, CEO and founder of the unicorn Transcarent [the American benchmark of Alinea Health] and former CEO and founder of another health tech startup called Livongo. These funds also invest or have invested in US startups in which we are inspired,” said Fernando Ribeiro, the company’s CEO and co-founder alongside Willian Menegali.

The round also included other investors, including Norte Ventures and the Latitud Fund, which also participated in the startup‘s pre-seed investment, of BRL 1.3 million, with other angel investors.

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According to Ribeiro, the new funding will be used mainly to attract new talented professionals to Alinea and the continuous development of the platform. “Our goal is to radically reduce [health benefits] costs for companies and raise the quality of care [delivered to employees]. We essentially do this by helping employees navigate their benefits, creating a [single] journey that replaces the current fragmented experiences. We do not replace health plan operators and service providers, but we are an impartial gateway that helps employees find the right service, which also drastically reduces business costs.”

The startup‘s addressable market is gigantic; basically, every company that offers health plans to its employees, from SMEs to large companies that provide benefits for more than 70,000 lives. According to the latest data from the National Supplementary Health Agency (ANS), Brazil ended 2021 with the highest number of health plan beneficiaries since March 2016 – when the country’s economic crisis hit and began to affect the sector as well. There are 48.7 million users of health care plans in the country today, and 68% of them are beneficiaries of plans paid by employers.

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Ribeiro points out that Alinea operates at the two most fragile ends of the industry’s equation: companies, which have to cover costs in the best possible way, and employees, who effectively need to access services and get the best out of them.

In practice, the company delivers a layer of experience to employees which can be accessed via app or WhatsApp. From there, Alinea works in two ways: it offers a concierge service, which allows two-touch scheduling of services, in addition to answering questions and helping people navigate the health services’ puzzle; and also creates an integrated and personalized care plan for beneficiaries, with access to a health team that accompanies the patients throughout their journey.

To offer all that, the startup has to integrate the operators’ system into its application and deploy its proprietary algorithms to process all the data generated by employees, who also can evaluate all the services provided. These data return to companies in the form of insights that answer questions such as what is actually used, when it is used, and who provides a particular service better according to employees.

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“The health tech startup is harnessing the power of data to identify the best healthcare providers in Brazil in terms of cost and quality of care. The team is building a product that will allow all Brazilian employers to optimize their healthcare expenses, offering the best for their employees. Investing in this was a great market opportunity, and we believe that Fernando and Willian are the founders who can make this ambitious vision a reality,” said Founders Fund’s director Everett Randle, in a press release.

Currently, 14 people work at Alinea. The idea is to reach a staff of 70 professionals by the end of the year. “With the new resources and the right people, we can expand Alinea’s solution to hundreds of thousands of Brazilian companies,” said Ribeiro.

With the new funding and the right people, we can expand Alinea’s solutions to hundreds of thousands of companies in Brazil

For Glen Tullman, navigating Brazil‘s healthcare system is as confusing and costly as in the United States. “I see significant potential in Alinea Health, and I am very happy to contribute to the construction of the next ‘Transcarent’ in Latin America,” said the US investor and entrepreneur also in a statement.

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