Healthtech startup targets moves into Québec, weight loss, therapy.
Toronto-based Felix got its start helping Canadians get timely access to medication for everyday, oft-stigmatized health issues like birth control, hair loss, and acne.
Since then, the healthtech startup has expanded to all but one Canadian province and 14 different types of therapeutics, amid rising demand for virtual care during the pandemic.
“This is the new normal.”
-Michelle Scarborough, BDC
After building out its own prescription fulfillment warehouses and closing $18 million CAD in previously unannounced Series B funding last summer, Felix has begun moving into more complex categories of care, including weight loss, coaching, and therapy.
Founded in 2019, Felix helps Canadians get on-demand treatment for a variety of common mental, sexual, and daily health needs, including anxiety, depression, erectile dysfunction, HIV prevention, allergies, and migraines. Through its software platform, the startup facilitates virtual assessments, lab testing, prescriptions, drug delivery, and ongoing care. Felix derives the vast majority of its revenue from offering and fulfilling these prescriptions, though the company also generates money from online visits and consultations.
Many Canadians still struggle to access healthcare on a timely basis. Some face long wait times to see family doctors, while others have no family doctor at all amid widespread shortages. Felix and a slew of other consumer-focused Canadian healthtech firms emerged to help address this issue and saw significant growth during the pandemic.
Felix closed its Series B funding in June 2022. The financing was led by BDC Capital’s Women in Technology Venture Fund—precursor to the Thrive Venture Fund—with support from fellow new investor the Canadian Business Growth Fund. The all-equity, all-primary round also saw follow-on participation from Toronto-based Whitecap Venture Partners and Mantella Venture Partners. This capital brought Felix’s total funding to $31.4 million.
Felix co-founder and CEO Kyle Zien declined to disclose Felix’s valuation following the firm’s Series B round, but claimed to BetaKit it was a “significant up round” compared to the startup’s $10 million Series A in early 2021.
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Felix also secured an undisclosed amount of venture debt from recently collapsed Silicon Valley Bank as part of the company’s Series B round (this debt is not part of that $18 million amount). Given the uncertainty surrounding the status of that debt, Zien declined to provide further comment.
The company has benefitted as the pandemic led many Canadians to use virtual health services. Buoyed by a rise in demand during COVID-19, Felix has amassed over 540,000 registered users and seen more than 200 percent year-over-year growth.
Felix moved into offering access to HIV prevention drug PrEP late last year, and just launched its new weight loss care category this week. On the service side of the equation, Felix plans to start facilitating coaching and therapy.
“This is the new normal,” Michelle Scarborough, the managing partner of BDC Capital’s Women in Technology and Thrive Venture Funds, told BetaKit. “This is not going away. This is going to get more refined. We can have lots of telehealth providers running around everywhere, but if we don’t have the quality of care maintained, those those systems will fail.”
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In Canada, beyond brick-and-mortar pharmacies, Felix competes against online pharmacy players like PocketPills and Mednow, as well as firms with a wider focus that offer prescriptions, like Maple. Amid a crowded Canadian healthtech landscape, Scarborough believes that what will help Felix stand apart from other players is a continued focus on quality as it scales.
At the same time, as Felix grows its business, Felix co-founder and COO Emma Stern told BetaKit that the startup intends to be “as responsible as possible” with its cash as it looks to avoid having to fundraise again in what has become a particularly challenging venture capital environment.
Though healthcare itself is a recession-proof industry, healthtech firms have certainly felt the impact of shifting market conditions and pandemic tailwinds fading. Healthtech venture capital funding has dropped and a number of other Canadian startups operating in the sector, including League, Smile Digital Health, and Swift Medical, have cut staff since last fall.
Meanwhile, TSX-listed Dialogue and LifeSpeak, along with many other publicly-traded healthtech firms, have seen their share prices drop precipitously, and digital pharmacy firms from south of the border, like Truepill and Capsule, have felt pain.
Unlike many of its tech peers, Felix has managed to avoid layoffs during the market downturn, and according to Zien, the firm has been hiring consistently for the past 12 months. Still, like other startups, Stern emphasized that Felix is taking a “thoughtful” approach to its spending amid this environment.
Feature image courtesy Felix.