But 2019 was hardly the beginning of our dream. Both of us were diagnosed with eating disorders as children and were fortunate to have parents who brought us to recovery using the techniques of Family Based Treatment (FBT).
As the founder of Project HEAL, the largest grassroots eating disorder nonprofit, Kristina was able to help hundreds of patients fund their treatment, but she knew there were millions she couldn’t help. Every day, she had to turn down applications from worthy folks who desperately wanted to get better — who were working multiple jobs and depleting college and retirement funds to afford treatment.
As a clinical psychologist in academic medicine, Erin watched people travel from all over the globe to get treatment at the university clinic she helped lead. Every day, she talked to families who couldn’t financially or logistically make the same trip. And throughout this time, we both knew we were barely making a dent in the country’s broken treatment landscape.
Every day, we were both meeting families and patients who were desperate for treatment, and who we couldn’t help. It was heartbreaking.
Knowing that 80% of the 30 million Americans who struggle with eating disorders weren’t receiving treatment, we decided that we had to move forward in a bold new way to achieve the monumental change needed in the field. So in 2019, we raised venture capital funding and started Equip.
Equip’s care model is rooted in Family-Based Treatment — a model built upon the belief that families are best equipped to help a loved one through recovery and recognizes eating disorders are brain disorders — and is built by a powerful combination of clinical and lived experience. We have set out on this bold, imperative mission with a team of people who are called to this work—people who’ve been there. More than 60% of the company has lived experience of recovering from an eating disorder or helping a loved one heal.
And our treatment is working. Patients and families are well on their way to healing with Equip. We are incredibly proud that after eight weeks of treatment, 71% of patients report a reduction in eating disorder symptoms and two-thirds report improvements in mood. In that time, 96% of caregivers report feeling more confident in caring for their loved one.
Today, we are delighted to announce that we have raised $58m in a Series B in support of our mission to transform eating disorder treatment and the cultural conversation around body image.
We carefully chose investment partners who had a connection to our story and their own lived experience. Our investment partners, The Chernin Group (TCG)—an early investor in Headspace—Tiger Global, General Catalyst, as well as existing investors F-Prime Capital, Optum Ventures, and .406 Ventures, made it clear this was more than an investment—it’s a shared mission.
We are also so thrilled to share that Katie Couric Media has also invested alongside American soccer champion Alex Morgan—with Couric joining as an advisor—to share their lived experiences and shift the cultural narrative.
This Series B funding will set us out to make a reality of our core vision: to get everyone with an eating disorder access to treatment that works. We ended our first year of operations with 10 major commercial payor contracts, our first Medicaid contract with Partnership Health Plan, and with 83% of families utilizing in-network benefits.
This funding will allow us to expand to all 50 states, broaden our treatment to adults, partner with all insurance plans, and most importantly, continue to partner with Medicaid and state governments to ensure treatment is no longer cost-prohibitive.
We also know that access isn’t meaningful unless treatment is safe and culturally humble. To that end, we’ve built teams that are reflective of the true diversity of eating disorder sufferers. Today, 34% of Equipsters identify as BIPOC, 33% as LGBTQ+, and 7% as transgender or non-binary. And while we started this company to fix this broken system, we are well aware that millions of people still fall through the cracks everyday.
That’s why, in our first year of operations, we committed to funding 12 Project HEAL recipients at any given time, and have donated over $100,000 to non-profit partners like The National Alliance for Eating Disorder Awareness, ANAD, FEDUP, and Project HEAL’s BIPOC Treatment Equity Project to ensure that underserved communities have access to care.
Our excitement is matched only by our gratitude for our amazing team who have built a culture and a level of recovery for our families that we hadn’t dreamed possible. They’ve pushed us to grow every day, build a team that finally reflects the diversity of those who suffer, and to prioritize the combined power of lived experience and data-driven science to deliver care that works.
We are proud to be part of this amazing team, that is committed to building a world free from fat-phobia and diet culture, where every child can grow up safe in their own body, and that believes in their bones that full recovery is not only possible, but inevitable for our families.