The ketogenic diet has been all the rage in recent years and one San Francisco-based health and wellness startup is hoping to cash in on that craze.
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The financing also included participation from Floodgate, Abstract Ventures and Hydra Ventures as well as Julia Hartz, Eventbrite co-founder and CEO, and Kevin Hartz, who co-founded Eventbrite and is an early investor in Pinterest, PayPal and Airbnb.
True to its name, Keyto describes itself as a health program comprised of a smart breath sensor that can detect when the body is in ketosis (a state in which it burns fats rather than sugars and carbohydrates for fuel) and an scientific app that provides personalized food and lifestyle recommendations based on an individual’s physiology. The device, Keyto said, detects ketones in the blood via the breathalyzer, which Wu claims is less messy and more accurate than urine strips or blood tests.
Keyto was formed in August but CEO Ray Wu (pictured below) told Crunchbase News that the founding team had been working on the premise behind it for the past five years. Keyto’s ability to raise seed funding from relatively high-profile investors stems from the fact that the startup’s offerings are rooted in science, he said. Wu, an MD, also previously co-founded Weilos, which in 2015 was sold to Weight Watchers International to serve as the foundation for its Connect app.
“Over the past year, the ketogenic diet has become one of the most popular diets in the United States. We believe the market is ripe for a device like Keyto, which can help people reach their goals more effectively,” said Sacks, co-founder and general partner of Craft Ventures, in a statement. “The Keyto team’s proven track record combined with the unique form factor of its product make it a very compelling investment.”
Co-founder Dr. Ethan Weiss, who also is an associate professor and preventative cardiologist at the University of California at San Francisco, said in a statement that the company has worked to make the science behind the ketogenic diet “simple with a device that can track metabolism in real-time paired with an app that provides actionable recommendations to help people lose weight fast while maintaining healthy lifestyles.”
Keyto will use the funding to expand R&D of its proprietary gas nanosensor as well as its manufacturing capabilities, according to Wu.
“The first thing we’ll do with the funds is produce the first batch of devices. The first units should start shipping in January,” Wu told Crunchbase News. “We’ll start with selling them online and then look at retail later in 2019.”
The company will continue to work on “making the device even better,” he added.
“We view ourselves as a hardware-enabled software company,” Wu told Crunchbase News. “So we’ll be spending a lot of funds developing software to help people succeed in this program.”
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias