As Ozempic and Wegovy surge, a tech startup secures $20 million for data-driven weight loss

ByYasmeeta Oon

Oct 25, 2023

The weight loss industry has always been lucrative, but it has recently experienced substantial growth due to the increased demand for medications like Ozempic, Wegovy, and other innovative drugs designed to address diabetes and obesity.

In the first half of 2023, sales of Ozempic and Wegovy surged by 58% and 363%, respectively. This surge followed a 300% increase in quarterly prescriptions for GLP-1 treatments, which emulate a gut hormone to curb appetite, between early 2020 and the end of the previous year.

However, as society dedicates more resources to combat the obesity epidemic, which costs the United States over $170 billion annually, drug developers aren’t the only ones innovating.

Signos, a five-year-old startup, has adopted a non-pill approach. The company employs off-the-shelf continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) to provide real-time dietary and exercise recommendations based on individual glucose readings. CGMs are small sensors worn on the upper arm, primarily used by people with diabetes. These devices wirelessly transmit data to a smartphone, enabling users to proactively manage their health.

Signos utilizes CGMs from Dexcom and offers an app that educates users about their body’s responses to specific foods, factors causing glucose spikes, and optimal exercise timing for weight loss.

Recently, Signos announced the closure of a $20 million funding round, led by Cheyenne Ventures and GV (formerly Google Ventures), with Dexcom Ventures also contributing. This capital injection will fuel ongoing research in metabolic health and team expansion, currently comprising approximately 45 members.

Sharam Fouladgar-Mercer, co-founder and CEO of Signos, expressed the company’s commitment to aiding individuals in their weight loss journeys, whether they aim to shed a few pounds or embark on a more significant transformation. Signos offers one-month, three-month, and six-month plans, with the six-month plan costing $143 per month, including the necessary CGMs. The company did not disclose the exact number of platform users.

Signos adopts extended timelines to attract individuals dedicated to achieving lasting weight loss, aligning with the extended wear time of Dexcom’s G6 and G7 CGMs, which can monitor glucose levels for up to 10 days. Signos is actively participating in a clinical study approved by a U.S. Food and Drug Administration-designated institutional review board, using Dexcom’s CGMs to monitor biomedical research involving real individuals.

The company’s origin traces back to Fouladgar-Mercer’s personal struggles with weight management, shaped by his athletic background. He identified a missing component in understanding an individual’s metabolism, fueling his mission to help users make informed decisions about their health. Signos integrates additional data sources, such as sleep, heart rate, and exercise information from Apple Watch, enhancing personalization.

Fouladgar-Mercer emphasized that trust in the system and its methodology allows users to follow recommendations effectively, fostering behavioral change over time.

While Dexcom and Abbott Laboratories are expanding their CGM applications beyond diabetes management, Signos boasts a vast dataset for non-diabetic individuals, accumulated over nearly five years. The company prioritizes sustainable journeys towards health, as opposed to quick fixes.

Signos can complement GLP-1 drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy, which offer powerful weight loss jump-starts but may pose challenges in maintaining results after discontinuation. Signos aims to empower individuals to make informed choices aligned with their unique physiological needs.

Ultimately, Signos leverages technology and data to drive behavioral change, addressing America’s pressing issue of obesity.

Yasmeeta Oon

Just a girl trying to break into the world of journalism, constantly on the hunt for the next big story to share.