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Advocate Aurora Health recently announced the launch of its new investment arm, Advocate Aurora Enterprises, which is focused on backing businesses related to aging independently, parenthood and personal performance. The Milwaukee- and Downers Grove, Illinois-based health system’s new subsidiary made its first investment in late March in Foodsmart, leading a $25 million Series C funding round for the San Francisco-based telenutrition company. Foodsmart connects app users with dieticians via telemedicine technology, offers a platform for online grocery shopping, and provides “foodscripts” to help manage chronic health conditions. Earlier this month, Advocate Aurora Enterprises announced it would acquire Maryland-based in-home care and wellness provider Senior Helpers.
Scott Powder, president of Advocate Aurora Enterprises, discussed its strategy in a recent interview with BizTimes Milwaukee associate editor Lauren Anderson.
“We don’t have a geographic focus; we have a national ambition and strategy. The reality is ... a lot of the kinds of companies that we’re looking at that are really pioneering – and Foodsmart being an example of this – consumer health and wellness are digitally native or digitally-based, which immediately makes them accessible via technology really across the country. That doesn’t mean we won’t specifically look for companies that have what I’d call synergistic opportunities in our Wisconsin/Illinois footprint, but we’re not necessarily targeting that as our only focus. It’s very much, what are companies that can impact consumer health and wellness nationally?”
“While we are open to just about everything, the reality is that I don’t see us having a huge focus on really, really early seed and pre-revenue startups. That’s what we love about Foodsmart. It’s actually sort of the perfect microcosm of what we’re looking for. … It’s an 8-year-old company, it’s cash-flow positive, yet still has a lot of upward growth potential, which our investment will help propel. It’s kind of that perfect stage. It’s third, fourth or fifth round of financing, we can help propel it. It’s not a complete shot in the dark, they have customers, but still tons of growth potential.”
How will Foodsmart help Advocate Aurora patients?
“One of the reasons we really liked what Foodsmart is doing is we have a huge commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and serving underserved communities. Our community health team and our population health team, they loved what Foodsmart is able to do for people who are grappling with food insecurity in the communities we serve today. The fact that they can integrate food stamps into the application for offsetting the cost of food, the fact that they actually do price shopping (and compare costs), and then of course that you can arrange for food delivery. And often people in communities have a food desert, where they have to travel to outside communities to get access to fresh and nutritious food, now we can bring (groceries) to them through delivery services.”