New York-based Framework emerged from stealth Friday with $3 million in seed funding as a platform for wellness businesses to set up virtual communities.
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True Ventures led the round and was joined by Uprising, Clay Point Investors and Looking Glass. The new funding gives the company a total of $3.4 million in investments since it was founded at the end of 2019, according to Rush Sadiwala, co-founder and CEO of Framework.
“We are building an infrastructure to power online goal-based communities, such as those for women going through pregnancy, as well as people working through addiction, cancer or want to train for a marathon,” Sadiwala told Crunchbase News.
Sadiwala got the idea for Framework two years ago when he experienced the loss of his father to cancer, and later, a girlfriend broke up with him. He went looking for a place to get support and ended up on Facebook groups and Reddit, but found them to be disorganized and lacking structure in the conversations.
During Sadiwala’s father’s battle with cancer, his mother had been leading some cancer support groups in India, and she would use spreadsheets to match people and book online rooms for them.
“I thought, ‘why not bring this kind of thing online?’” he said. “I made a post on several subreddits laying out my idea for an online break-up support group, and asked people if I wrote out the software, would people want it. I went to bed and woke up to it on the front page of Reddit. It became obvious that the internet wanted this.”
Sadiwala teamed up with co-founder Jack Stevens and built the online group, which is now 18,000 people strong, and began running it themselves, Sadiwala said.
Then a doctor in North Carolina reached out to the pair wanting to start a group of people with diabetes who wanted to lose weight. Rather than run the group themselves, they evolved the platform to enable others to build their own support groups.
That led to attracting author Annie Grace as a client. Grace wrote a sobriety book, This Naked Mind, and wanted to build a complimentary online program, Sadiwala said. She created her “30-Day Alcohol-Free Program” on Framework and, in less than two months, more than 40,000 people had completed her program, he added.
Sadiwala intends to use the new funding to accelerate growth and focus on the regulatory piece, such as ensuring groups are HIPAA compliant. In addition, Framework will add to its 12-person headcount so that it can develop new features that customers are asking for, such as for group leaders to build their own courses and form partnerships with other people who can run additional groups under a particular brand.
Kevin Rose, partner at True Ventures, said he invests in health and wellness companies and saw the pain points of support groups, especially for people who are new to a group.
He also said this is a massive market opportunity where experiences can be customized to the individual and done in a way that is safe — medical information wise — and can be anonymous.
“If you are dropped into a group that is halfway through, it can be a challenge to feel like you belong,” Rose said in an interview. “With Framework, group leaders can create their groups so that there is a new cohort every day, which is huge. Rush is driven by this purpose and very much about the mission.”
Feature photo of Framework co-founders Rush Sadiwala and Jack Stevens, as well as the inset app screenshot courtesy of Framework.
Blogroll illustration: Li-Anne Dias
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