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How this entrepreneur hopes to develop a robust, data-driven approach to health and wellness

by Ana Lopez
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Andrew Herr, founder of Sourcewants to tailor care. This one-size-fits-all approach, he says, doesn’t work. But for that he needs better data. “The current data we have is garbage.”

Herr, who has worked with the military and executives to optimize their health, is interested in expanding beyond that elite niche to a wider audience. It’s a step-by-step approach that he hopes will become more affordable with each step.

“At the moment we have a number of different problems with the way healthcare is organized,” he explains. “First, we have these studies and clinical trials that are based on small numbers of people, usually just about 20 to 40. Second, they use mice — and these aren’t even like mice you’d find in the wild, they’ve changed. Third, the impetus now is to put out more papers and studies, because that’s what medical research funds. So academics are trapped in this model.”

Rather than small groups of people for clinical trials, Herr says you need thousands to build a better data set. Instead of mice you need people. And instead of a few simple blood tests, you need blood work done over a longer period of time, along with other forms of testing and surveys.

Working with executives through his coaching company (who pay about $3,000 a month), he already has some of this data. However, he needs to scale it up. That costs money and calls for more support.

This week, Fount announced it has raised $12 million for its Series A. Plus, he’s part of a team that has the skills to move in this broader direction. For example, his co-founder Clayton Kim has a background in machine learning and AI and worked as a data scientist at large companies before working on Fount. “So we have the expertise to build this out,” Herr reiterates.

“We get so much data per customer. We need about 5,000 people to go through the program. That’s not a crazy amount of people to get accurate models, which can be used to build out a more tailored approach to healthcare.”

Herr has already developed a product that tackles jet lag, somewhat as a proof of point. And he says it’s been effective, claiming it helps almost all of their clients deal with the uncomfortable effects of jet lag. Likewise, he has worked with women on menstrual problems, advising them on techniques to reduce cramping and menstrual pain.

In the coming months, Herr will introduce a product that focuses on sleep. Essentially, he wants to address the usual lifestyle pain points: sleep, stress, mood, focus. While these all cost less than his monthly coaching fee, they are still considered a ‘premium’ service.

However, his goal is that in a few years he can reduce the price significantly enough to compete with the cost of a monthly gym membership or a pass to yoga classes. “I’m not doing this just to help executives. I really want to reach as many Americans as possible.”

And the answer isn’t just supplements. It is a combination of techniques from lifestyle changes, sleep, meditation, exercise, nutrition and more. “Supplements are helpful. But they need to be given at the right time and in the right dose to really make a difference.”

That kind of customized approach, he argues, could help American address the root causes of inflammation and so many chronic conditions that can be reversed through non-medical intervention.

Since the medical world requires quite a bit of regulatory rigor, Herr and his colleagues set Fount down the wellness route instead. “But to be honest, I think a lot of lifestyle-related illnesses can be cured without prescription drugs. In fact, they are often only managed with prescription drugs, not cured,” he says.

And while there are a slew of health tech gadgets people can use to monitor their sleep, activity, stress, etc., he finds these companies aren’t as effective at providing a solution. “They tell you that you sleep badly. But they don’t advise you how to fix it except just go to bed earlier. We want to be able to say to each person, based on their specific circumstances, what could help with that.”

So could Fount be part of America’s transition to personalized healthcare with a more holistic view of the human body? This week’s funding announcement is just a start.

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