Roman, an online men's health platform initially focused on erectile dysfunction, launched this week with $3.1 million in funding. General Catalyst led the round, with participation from Initialized Capital, Box Group, and Slow Ventures. The company also announced a number of angel investors including Casper CEO Philip Krim, Bark CEO Matt Meeker, WayUp CEO Liz Wessel, Code Academy CEO Zach Sims, former Behance CEO Scott Belsky, and PillPack CEO TJ Parker.
The idea behind the company is that the stigma behind erectile dysfunction keeps many men from seeking any treatment, or drives them to seek treatment outside of the healthcare system. This is dangerous because ED can be an early warning sign of diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, or depression. An online platform allows men to seek discreet treatment they might be more comfortable with.
"Basically, having ED is your body’s check engine light turning on,” Zachariah Reitano, Roman CEO and cofounder, said in a statement. “A check engine light that’s so highly stigmatized — men rarely admit it, even to their own doctor, which means they wait until things become worse.”
Reitano shared in a medium post that he experienced ED himself as a teenager and it turned out to be an early symptom of a dangerous heart condition.
Roman's offering includes an asynchronous telehealth assessment that patients fill out online with the help of a chatbot. Then a physician reviews those questions and follows up if necessary. Many times users will be prescribed ED meds, which can then be shipped discreetly to the patient and refilled automatically. Patients can chat with a pharmacist or medical team at any time. Roman charges $15 for the initial consultation, as well as charging for any medication. The company does not accept insurance and the service will initially be available only in New York, California, Pennsylvania, and Florida.
The company is also committed to encouraging patients to see a doctor to discover the underlying causes of their ED, and will make it easy to forward information to providers.
Reitano doesn't plan for ED to be Roman's entire business in the long run. He hopes to discover what other conditions are disproportionately affecting men because men's reluctance to seek care and gradually add those to the platform.
"First, Roman will strive to be the easiest, safest, and most affordable way to receive treatment for erectile dysfunction. If we don’t accomplish this, we will never be able to do anything else," he wrote. "If we are fortunate to take the first step, we will look to our patients. Roman exists to serve our patients. The data shows that many conditions are highly correlated with ED but we don’t yet know which conditions our patients most need us to help them treat. We will progress adaptively and continue to be an important part of their healthcare journey."