KC startup earns $100K from Google initiative, funding its ‘food as medicine’ tech solution for chronic illnesses, healthy food inequity

KC startup earns $100,000 from Google initiative, funds ‘food as medicine’ technology

KAnsas-based Free From Market will receive $100,000 in undiluted funding from Google as part of the tech giant An initiative to support black-led startups.

free from market is a digital health platform that unifies the key components needed for people with chronic diseases to make lasting dietary changes: personalized food selection, nutritional education and support, and essential data.

Emily Brown, the thought leader in the Food Is Medicine movement – founder and now CEO of Free From Market – started working on food equality after struggling to get healthy food for her children.

“I experienced the challenge of personally trying to find healthy foods suitable for chronic diseases,” Brown said. “I have two daughters with chronic illnesses where food is really part of the standard of care. My family has been in WIC and SNAP, just like many Americans during tough economic times, and we still couldn’t afford what we needed to keep my daughters safe.”

That experience led Brown to founding Food Equality Initiativea non-profit organization that supports food security and health equity through a charitable diet.

Through her work, Brown said she saw the opportunity – and the need – to expand.

“One in three Americans has a chronic condition where food is part of the standard of care,” Brown said. But what we’ve seen is that 50 percent of them lack consistent access to the food and resources they need to be healthy. Not everyone can run to their local health store. There are a lot of systemic barriers in place.”

Free from the Market — which Brown described as a “socially oriented” for-profit organization — exists to help remove some of these barriers.

Patients with chronic diseases are referred to ‘free of the market’ by a hospital, physician, payer or partner community organization.

The startup currently only works with food-insecure and financially disadvantaged clients, though Brown said she hopes to expand that coverage.

Free From Market works with its partners to provide users with a monthly voucher amount, so when they access the digital platform, they can choose foods for the diet at no cost. Additional items can be purchased on top of support using debit or credit cards.

Eat your way to better health

On the platform, users can filter by ingredients, allergens and any other dietary restrictions or needs, then have their groceries shipped straight to their doorstep.

“Everyone is different,” Brown said. “We all have different dietary requirements, health needs, and even dietary preferences based on our cultural background, so there really isn’t a one-stop solution for everyone. We don’t make ‘diabetes boxes’ or ‘kidney boxes.’ We believe in a personalized approach.”

In addition to helping people with chronic illnesses access healthy and suitable foods, Free From Market also provides users with educational support, such as one-on-one remote coaching.

Brown said such support helps promote positive behavioral change, which ultimately leads to improved health outcomes.

“We know that it is not enough just to provide people with access to food, but education and knowledge are powerful,” Brown said. “We really take an approach to empowering our customers and our users…working hand in hand to make sure they can change this positive behavior over time.”

She said the company plans to launch its first diet program later this year.

Its final component is measuring health outcomes using a data-driven approach, so both patients and medical partners can see how dietary changes improve patient health.

Accessing and understanding the data improves user engagement and shows insurance providers how using food as medicine can reduce the cost of care, Brown said.

“For our partners, that’s the key,” she added. For the first time, they can see data on how their patients or their organs are shopping, which can then increase these health outcomes. The data is so important, and it was kind of a missing piece in this business.”

All of Free From Market’s existing partners are located in the Midwest, although the platform can deliver groceries anywhere in the continental United States.

Brown said 64 percent of current users live in what the USDA calls “semi-rural areas,” which lie between the outer limits of urban centers and rural communities.

“I am really excited about our work on Free From Market because it is a fair solution to support individuals who live in urban and rural communities,” she said. “This is the beauty of technology – it allows us to scale solutions that have not been achieved before.”

Put Kansas City on a map (Google)

In addition to $100,000 in undiluted funding—meaning the funding is not offered against equity in the company—Google will also provide free from the marketplace with $100,000 in Google Cloud credits, hands-on support from Google employees, and free access to business training services. and mental health.

Google launched the initiative, officially called the Google for Startups Black Founders Fund, in 2020 as a way to promote economic opportunity in black communities. in the United States of America, Less than one percent Of the venture capital goes to black founders.

“As a black woman who leads a technology company, I know how difficult it can be to raise capital, and I am honored to receive this undiluted investment from Google,” Brown said.

The 176 US recipients in the original two groups received a total of $10 million, and they went on to raise an additional $139 million. To be eligible, the company must have raised less than $3 million and demonstrate a need for financing.

While Brown isn’t entirely sure how Free From Market will use its new money, she is sure that the additional capital will help the company continue to grow and address health outcomes through food as medicine.

“In many ways, this is proof of the work that Free From Market is doing here to connect the most vulnerable people with chronic conditions to the foods they need,” Brown said.

“This is a pervasive problem in every community across the country,” she continued. “We’re excited to continue building our solution and work with partners to address this issue, and have tremendous Google support.”

Free From Market is the first recipient from Kansas City, which Brown said made her “excited and proud to put Kansas City on the map.” (PlaBook, an education technology startup that Dr. Philip Hickman set up in Kansas City before moving to St. Louis to benefit from the Arch Grants program, is also named in the 2022 Google suite.)

click over here See the full list of funding winners.

“I’m excited to continue building here in Kansas City,” she said. “I am thrilled, and quite frankly, honored to be Googled. It is important. I am honored to be the first in Kansas City, and we hope to make Kansas City proud and continue to deliver value and impact to those in Kansas City and beyond.”

This story is possible thanks to the support of Ewing Marion Kaufman Foundationa private, nonpartisan organization that works alongside communities in education and entrepreneurship to find unparalleled solutions and empower people to shape their future and achieve success.

For more information visit www.kauffman.org And contact at www.twitter.com/kauffmanfdn And the www.facebook.com/kauffmanfdn

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