BioBeats raises $2.3M for employee wellness, shutters music app

By Aditi Pai
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BioBeats, which is developing a wellness tracking platform for consumers, health systems, and corporate wellness programs, has raised $2.28 million from White Cloud Capital, AXA Strategic Ventures, and IQ Capital. This brings the company’s total funding to date to at least $3.6 million.

The company’s new app, called "Hear and Now", listens to the user’s heart rate using the smartphone camera while providing the user with mindful breathing exercises to complete. The app is designed to ease a user’s anxiety or stress. 

In the next few weeks, BioBeats also plans to roll out a dashboard to the app so that it can be used by patients or employees participating in a BioBeats wellness program. The user's in-app dashboard will sync with a provider- or employer-facing dashboard. Even when the dashboard is added, consumers will still be able to download the app for free and access some features.

David Plans, the company’s CEO and cofounder, first got the idea to start BioBeats when he was in the UK, working on developing technology that could help people manage anxiety and other symptoms in the onset of disease.

“I wasn’t happy that clinical trials gave me 30, 50, at most 100 participants that I could play with, if you will,” Plans said. “I wanted to reach thousands and thousands of them and get data that would help me understand how can you manage anxiety and pain and symptoms using apps or using sensors in a way that really makes sense.”

He wasn't getting funding from public bodies in England, so Plans went to Silicon Valley and got a meeting with Nadeem Kassam, the founder of Basis Science (which was later sold to Intel in 2014). After Plans pitched his idea — an application that would use biofeedback to help someone understand pain and anxiety — he, Kassam, and Davide Morelli, a specialist in the intersection between artificial intelligence and music, founded BioBeats. 

BioBeats first launched in 2013 with an app, called Pulse, that collected a user’s heart data using the smartphone camera and then plays music that matches his or her heart rate. But the company has since taken Pulse out of app stores.

“When we first released Pulse, we wanted to do two things, one was call attention to ourselves, here’s an app that turns your heart rate into music and to ask those people, ‘We’re gathering data for this study on cardiovascular health and stress all over the world’ and on an anonymous basis look at data so we could refine our algorithms,” Plans said. “We didn’t expect to get very far with the app itself, but over 100,000 users gave us a few sessions of cardiovascular data. And that essentially allowed us to start using machine learning to look at the body of data we had — literally hundreds and hundreds of hours and thousands of sessions.”

In addition to Hear and Now, BioBeats will eventually launch another app, called "Get On Up", according to the company website. Get On Up will track the user’s activity and play music at their pace. Last year, music streaming service Spotify launched a similar feature on its app.

The company currently also lists another app in the app store, called Listen To Your Heart by Metamucil. Plans explained that in 2014 the company’s former app, Pulse, was white-labeled and used in a joint effort between Metamucil, a fiber supplement company, and Heart Research Australia to bring attention to heart health.5 Sneakers to Celebrate Cinco de Mayo