Segterra Scores $2.5M to Shed Some Blood in Personal Health Tracking

5/6/14Follow @gthuang

Personal health and wellness continues to climb the tech-investment charts. Now a Boston-area startup is getting in on the action, thanks to a prominent New York investor.

Segterra, the maker of Web-based health platform InsideTracker, has quietly raised a $2.5 million Series A funding round from New York bigwig Henry Kauftheil. The new money brings Segterra’s total raised to more than $4 million since the Cambridge, MA-based company was founded in 2009.

The deal closed in April, and Kauftheil has joined Segterra’s board of directors. He’s the founder and chairman of real estate investment firm ACG Equities, as well as the founder and chairman of a retail group that owns big East Coast supermarkets. Kauftheil previously headed ICES, an Internet company from the dot-com era. Interestingly, he is now the co-founder and chief strategy officer of SelfHealth.me, a stealthy health and wellness startup in New York.

It sounds like Segterra was talking to venture capitalists when Kauftheil swooped in to lead the deal as a strategic investor. “We believe that the future of health and wellness is science-based and personalized,” says Kauftheil, in an e-mailed statement. “We view InsideTracker’s outstanding scientific team and superior offering as leading the charge in providing consumers with objective baselines and guidance on how to optimize their health and reach their full potential.”

InsideTracker gives people personal recommendations on their nutrition and lifestyle, based on analyzing a blood sample. The idea is to examine biological data from inside the body—levels of cholesterol, enzymes, vitamins, and so on—and then make suggestions about an individual’s diet, exercise, and sleep routines (e.g., eat more tofu, less fried chicken). The company says it uses nutrition and demographic databases, as well as a knowledge base built up from research papers, to do this.

Rony Sellam, CEO of SegterraRony Sellam, Segterra’s chief executive (pictured), says the new financing is significant because it will help the company go after mainstream consumers.

“We’re in the third generation of the product,” Sellam says, referring to professional and amateur athletes as target markets for the first two generations. Now, he says, Segterra is aiming its analytics technology at “the mainstream market of people who have interest in monitoring their health.” That means everyone from average Joes to business executives to people with specific medical problems—anyone who wants to improve his or her daily health and performance, he says.

Sellam became the company’s CEO about a year ago, after 12 years in the digital health industry. But Segterra is rooted in the life sciences and medical expertise of founders Gil Blander (previously at MIT), Christian Reich (formerly with Millennium Pharmaceuticals), and David Lester (formerly at Pfizer).

As tech giants like Apple and Google dive into personal health and wellness, many startups are scrambling to find the right niche. Elsewhere around Boston, RunKeeper has a strong user base built around its fitness-tracking smartphone app. Change Collective is developing digital content and courses to help improve people’s lifestyles. Other companies are working on wearable monitors, analytics, and other digital-health approaches; they include Bobo Analytics, Neumitra, MC10, Quanttus, and Sensing Strip.

Segterra’s niche is in applying health analytics to blood-sample data—an approach that’s more invasive than what most companies are doing, but could also be more valuable. “What we’re seeing in general is the excitement level is going up for tracking inside the body as opposed to tracking outside,” Sellam says. “People are hooked on activity trackers, but there’s also more potential for data coming from inside the body.”

His company is still small but has grown to 11 employees. One of its recent partners is Sports Club/LA, a fitness chain that is starting to introduce InsideTracker to its members through their personal trainers.

Sellam clearly likes Segterra’s chances of cashing in on the personal health craze. “It’s getting more and more personalized,” he says. “People are getting more interested in data.”

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com. Follow @gthuang