Zoi, a preventative care firm formed by a former Macron adviser, has raised $23 million in a venture round

Enter Zoi, a new French business that intends to use a smartphone app to integrate normal medical examinations with preventative treatment. Ismael Emelien, a former special counsellor to Emmanuel Macron during his early days as president, and Paul Dupuy, who previously worked on Workwell, co-founded the company.

When I go into detail about the product and goal, it’s worth mentioning that the firm has secured a substantial seed round of $23 million (€20 million) entirely from business angels.

Zoi is a healthcare start-up specialising on preventative care. The firm is not developing novel treatments, medications, or vaccinations. Instead, Zoi aims to provide you with specific information so that you may enhance your long-term health.

What method does Zoi use to collect data? Ismael Emelien, co-founder and CEO, told me, “It’s a hybrid approach that is physical and digital — we’re going to build centres and we’re going to gather data ourselves.”

We’ll establish centres and gather data ourselves, so it’ll be a hybrid approach that’s both real and digital. Ismael Emelien Ismael Emelien Ismael Em

Once you’ve started your subscription and become a member, the company will send you an invitation to a Zoi health centre to remind you that it’s time to go. The organisation will take blood samples, examine your eyesight, hearing, and heart, among other things.

Zoi will analyse the data using data science based on the results of the initial checkup. “We’ll develop the tools that will lead to predictive algorithms.” “We’ll be able to continually enhance our data analysis,” co-founder Paul Dupuy told me.

Instead of delivering you a 30-page booklet with a lot of data, Zoi believes it’s more efficient to use nudge, a popular behavioural science term. Users of Zoi will get messages and information that gently encourage them to take better care of their health.

“At the end of the day, we don’t urge you to exercise more or eat better — we tell you what kinds of sports you should do,” Emelien said. Users of the Zoi app might learn more about their health by interacting with it a little bit every day.

By the end of the year, the company hopes to open its first clinic. Before Zoi accepts a big number of patients, there will be a trial period. However, the economic model expands nicely, since you can picture a clinic with a capacity of tens of thousands of prospective patients.

Zoi will be rather costly at initially, since this form of prophylactic procedure is not covered by France’s public healthcare system. The firm compares its service to those of checkup facilities in Paris, such as the American Hospital’s checkup centre. Thousands of euros may be spent on these procedures.

Zoi aspires to be a little less expensive than the current facilities. The business also expects that, as a result of economies of scale, it will be able to cut its membership fee over time.

There are three more members of the founding team, in addition to the two co-founders I mentioned before. Cédric Carbone and Fabrice Bonan are already acquainted, having previously served as Talend‘s CTO and CPO, respectively. Dr. Claude Dalle will serve as Zoi’s Chief Scientific Advisor in the healthcare field.

Only individual investors are eligible to participate

On the investment front, Zoi purposefully excluded venture capital funds. “We were solely searching for individual investors who were willing to be hands-on.” “We asked for a very high minimum commitment of €1 million per investor so that they can fully support us,” Dupuy stated.

Jean-Claud Marian, the founder of Orpea, a major healthcare real estate firm, and Stéphane Bancel, the CEO of Moderna, both placed more money on the table than the others. When discussing about Stéphane Bancel, Emelien noted, “He believes that preventative medicine is the answer to 90% of health difficulties.”

The list of investors, however, does not end there. Xavier Niel, Rodolphe Saadé, Jean-Marie Messier, Jean Moueix, Hassanein Hiridjee, Emmanuel Goldstein, and Patrick Levy-Waitz are among the other men in the round.

As things are, Zoi raises two issues. First, an exorbitant beginning subscription fee may create a separation between those who can afford such a product and the rest of the population.

Some argue that businesses should concentrate their efforts on decreasing inequities in health and life expectancy. According to a 2018 research in France, the wealthiest 5% of males live 13 years longer than the poorest 5% of men. When the wealthiest 5% of women are compared to the poorest 5% of women, the disparity is narrower, but there is still an 8-year difference in life expectancy.

Second, despite the startup’s heavy reliance on nudging, Zoi isn’t going to be an easy sale for those who don’t reside near Zoi’s first location in Paris. To be fair, the company already has ambitions to expand outside Paris, and the yearly exam is just a few hours long. So you could theoretically live in the Alps and just get your health examined once a year.

However, I continue to feel that Zoi is approaching preventative care from the correct perspective. “From a conceptual standpoint, we placed users first,” Emelien said. “Neither technology nor healthcare are where we begin. Around users, we mix technology and healthcare.”

The creators of Zoi are also well aware that disease prevention does not guarantee complete eradication. It all comes down to improving your chances of living a longer, healthier life. And a scientific, data-driven approach to preventative care, paired with the appropriate amount of scepticism about technology solutions, might have a significant beneficial influence on the lives of many people.