Ro raises $200m with the aim of creating ‘Shopify for healthcare’

28 Jul 2020

From left: Ro co-founders Rob Schutz, Zachariah Reitano and Saman Rahmanian. Image: Ro

New York-based start-up Ro has raised $200m for its telehealth platform and new online pharmacy business.

Telehealth start-up Ro has raised $200m in funding for its platform that aims to provide access to healthcare and pharmaceuticals online.

The funding round was led by General Catalyst, with participation from FirstMark Capital, Torch, SignalFire, TQ Ventures, Initialized Capital, 3L, BoxGroup and new investor The Chernin Group.

The latest batch of funding brings the total raised by Ro to $376m since it was launched it 2017. It values the company at $1.5bn.

‘Shopify for healthcare’

On its website, Ro says it believes that “more healthcare services will be provided online or at home than in a doctor’s office or a pharmacy” in the not-so-distant future.

The start-up, which was founded by Rob Schutz, Saman Rahmanian and Zachariah Reitano in New York, aims to streamline the digital health experience by putting patients in touch with doctors and care teams who can answer questions, discuss treatments and control prescriptions online.

Three green medicine bottles on a red and white background.

Ro Pharmacy bottles. Image: Ro

According to CNBC, the start-up has been pitching its services to doctors seeking new patients. Reitano, who is CEO of the business, told the publication that Ro provides general practitioners with the software and patients with a platform to book online and offline appointments or request services. He added that the vision is to become the “Shopify of healthcare”.

The start-up began by focusing on men’s health with its platform Roman, which provides a two-day shipping service in the US for prescriptions approved by the platform’s online physicians. Ro later expanded to provide women’s health products through a separate platform called Rory.

Between its platforms, Ro deals with a variety of health issues including dermatology, allergies, sexual health and smoking cessation.

More recently, the start-up launched an online pharmacy business, Ro Pharmacy, which allows users to subscribe to receive prescriptions. The company currently offers 500 generic medications for $5 per month per drug.

‘Disparities exacerbated by Covid-19’

The start-up said it is now generating $250m in annual revenue. The digital medicine sector is currently benefitting from opportunities that have arisen during the Covid-19 pandemic, with more people staying home and many health consultations now occurring online.

In the company’s statement on the recent funding, Ro medical adviser Dr Joycelyn Elders said: “Telehealth companies like Ro are using technology to address longstanding healthcare disparities that have been exacerbated by Covid-19.

“By empowering providers to leverage their skills as efficiently and effectively as possible, Ro delivers affordable, high-quality care regardless of a patient’s location, insurance status or physical access to physicians and pharmacies.”

The company said that it plans to use the latest funding round to invest in its healthcare ecosystem.

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic