Our Investment in Riva Health: Building the Future of Cardiovascular Healthcare
Nearly half of US adults—108 million people—have high blood pressure, which is the #1 controllable risk for both heart disease and stroke, the two leading worldwide causes of death. Despite broadly available medication, only half of those with hypertension have their blood pressure under control. Why? Hypertension is silent, and patients and their physicians often don’t get complete information at the right time to act.
Standard medical practice for treating hypertension is a cycle of monitoring and management: monitor blood pressure, treat with a combination of diet, exercise, and medication, monitor results, and adjust treatment accordingly. However, most hypertensives find blood pressure cuffs uncomfortable and inconvenient, and many don’t monitor their blood pressure consistently and don’t get the information they need to manage their condition. Closer monitoring and management of hypertension has been proven definitively to lower blood pressure and save lives.
That’s why we’re excited to lead the $15M Series A in Riva Health, which is redefining the future of cardiovascular healthcare.
Riva’s technology uses signal processing and machine learning to identify features in the pulse waveform that correlate to blood pressure. Riva runs on existing smartphones: users simply place their index finger over the camera on the back of the phone. Light from the camera flash illuminates blood vessels in the fingertip and the camera captures intensity changes as blood flows through with each heartbeat.
The ability to accurately measure blood pressure using a smartphone app with notifications and without dedicated hardware would dramatically improve compliance and data quality. This data would help patients and healthcare providers to manage blood pressure as a team, including improving medication adherence and guiding lifestyle modification and medication changes.
Our relationship with Riva dates back to 2016, when I met co-founder Tuhin Sinha through Adam D’Augelli. At the time Tuhin and I were both entrepreneurs working on different approaches to novel blood pressure monitoring. I joined Menlo Ventures as a healthcare investor in 2017, and have remained passionate about the potential to improve outcomes via remote monitoring. In 2019, I wrote an article for TechCrunch on how blood pressure monitoring could be a “killer app” for wearables and make them relevant digital health devices. As an investor at Menlo, I met with over 30 companies working on remote monitoring and over 10 working on blood pressure. I have always loved Riva’s unique approach, and after getting to know Tuhin over 3 years, led our seed investment in August 2019 and joined the board.
As part of our seed investment, Riva was the first company we invited to be part of Menlo Labs, a new initiative created at Menlo by my partner Shawn Carolan to help start companies in areas of massive unmet need where we feel existing efforts aren’t enough. We helped incubate Riva in our San Francisco office, where Greg Rudin, GM of Menlo Labs, and I worked with Tuhin to help develop strategies for clinical validation studies, future FDA submission and clearance, payor reimbursement, and go-to-market.
Through Shawn, we connected Tuhin to Dag Kittlaus, the serial entrepreneur who created Siri (acquired by Apple) and Viv (acquired by Samsung). Dag and Menlo go way back: Shawn led Siri’s Series A and he and Dag became friends. Shawn knew Dag was on a mission to build something amazing in digital health, and that the combination of Dag and Tuhin could be powerful. Tuhin had developed a novel solution to a very hard technical problem and brings clinical experience of improving outcomes via a digital app. Dag is one of a very short list of people who have built visionary digital products that have become household names. Together, they bring a passion and vision for improving heart health and saving lives with the smartphones already in three billion pockets, and we are thrilled to share in that vision with them.
With our Series A investment, Riva officially graduates from Menlo Labs. We designed Menlo Labs to launch ideas into companies, and we are thrilled to continue to partner with Dag and Tuhin to bring their vision to life. For Menlo, Riva also represents the latest in a series of Menlo digital health investments, including Benchling, H1, Particle, PillPack (acquired by Amazon) and Rivet. We have deep experience and a proven track record of backing companies at the intersection of healthcare and technology, and we look forward to partnering with more great teams working on solving massive unmet needs in healthcare.