Valencell, a startup company based in North Carolina that is focused on mobile health and fitness technologies, announced this week that that it has received $5.5 million in venture capital funding. The round was led by Best Buy Capital, the investment group of Best Buy, with participation from previous investors TDF and True Ventures. Valencell is the creator of powered earbuds which give audio headsets the ability to monitor the health and fitness of the user. The company's sensor technology tracks real-time physiological metrics including heart rate, calories burned, steps taken, distance traveled, speed and more, while the consumer listens to music, talks over the phone, or goes about daily life activities. Data is streamed to smartphones or music players through wired or wireless links, enabling live body metrics, training, and coaching via fitness applications on mobile devices and online.
"People everywhere are listening to music while running and exercising," explained CEO and cofounder Dr. Steven LeBoeuf. "Integrating heart rate sensors directly and seamlessly into music earbuds fits right into the behavior of consumers today. Everyone's body responds differently to exercise, so being able to monitor the heart, the body's engine, will help consumers customize and personalize workout regiments for their specific goals whether it's for weight loss, toning or endurance. Users will be able to view their metrics live through fitness applications on their iPhone, Android phones, other mobile devices and online."
Recent research from PricewaterhouseCoopers cites growing demand for mobile health monitoring: 88% of physicians said they would like their patients to track their health information and 40% of individuals said they would buy a personal health-monitoring device or pay for a subscription to send health information to their providers.
Research from the Consumer Electronics Association also demonstrates a growing market opportunity for fitness related technology, citing that 47% of US consumers have used a fitness technology in the past year, and that 37% of online US consumers anticipate purchasing fitness technology in the next 12 months.
"What makes Valencell unique is that we capture meaningful, actionable, personalized health and fitness metrics with devices people already wear," said LeBoeuf. "Carriers and mobile device manufacturers have started launching innovative products and services in mobile health and fitness markets, but until the introduction of Valencell's Healthset technology, there hasn't been a way to seamlessly and accurately capture body metrics throughout daily life activities and send this data to the user's smartphone in real time."
In 2010, Valencell validated the accuracy of its sensor technologies through a clinical study at the Duke University Center for Living medical facilities and is actively licensing its technologies to strategic partners, so it can be part of everyone's favorite headset brands. This Series B funding is being used to expand the Valencell team, increase the number of licensing deals with strategic partners, and accelerate the product pipeline to include additional physiological monitoring capabilities. Seeded by the three founders, Valencell previously raised a Series A round of $1 million and has been awarded more than $3 million in R&D grants.
Founded in 2006 and headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina, Valencell develops physiological monitoring technology and licenses this technology to industry partners for integration with brand-name products used by consumers each day. The application of Valencell's technologies span across multiple markets including consumer mobile, fitness, gaming, mHealth, and personal protection equipment (PPE).