Wednesday 18 March 2020 4:58 pm

Serena Williams-backed health startup Quit Genius raises $11m in funding round

A health tech startup backed by tennis champion Serena Williams has raised $11m (£9.4m) to help bolster its digital therapy services.

San Francisco-based Quit Genius, which provides stop smoking services to NHS trusts in the UK, secured the cash injection in a series A funding round led by Octopus Ventures.

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The latest financing follows a $2.6m seed round that drew investment from Serena Williams’ investment firm Serena Ventures, as well as her sister Venus.

Y Combinator, Startup Health and Triple Point Ventures also contributed to the new funding round.

Quit Genius, which was founded by three doctors trained at Imperial College London, provides personalised digital therapy for addiction.

Services available on its platform include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), expert coaching, a connected breath sensor and access to medication. 

Quit Genius said the funding would help the company expand its service beyond cigarette and vaping addiction to include alcohol and substance abuse.

The firm said it would also look to expand in the US, which is currently battling an opioid epidemic.

“Since our last funding round 18 months ago, Quit Genius has grown rapidly,” said Quit Genius chief executive and co-founder Yusuf Sherwan.

“Our customer base has increased ten-fold, we have demonstrated industry-leading quit rates and expanded our product offering to vaping cessation.”

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Will Gibbs, early-stage investor at Octopus Ventures, said:  “When it comes to addiction, far too many people are still dying from deaths that are potentially avoidable. 

“That’s why the personalised digital approach taken by Quit Genius is so exciting, as it is far more effective at changing behaviours and will ultimately save lives.”