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Serena Williams-backed health startup Quit Genius raises $11m in funding round



Serena Williams playing

A health tech startup backed by tennis champion Serena Williams has raised $11m (£9.4m) to help bolster its digital therapy services.

San Francisco-based Quit Genius, which provides stop smoking services to NHS trusts in the UK, secured the cash injection in a series A funding round led by Octopus Ventures.

The latest financing follows a $2.6m seed round that drew investment from Serena Williams’ investment firm Serena Ventures, as well as her sister Venus.

Y Combinator, Startup Health and Triple Point Ventures also contributed to the new funding round.

Serena Williams looking up

Quit Genius, which was founded by three doctors trained at Imperial College London, provides personalised digital therapy for addiction.

Services available on its platform include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), expert coaching, a connected breath sensor and access to medication.

Quit Genius said the funding would help the company expand its service beyond cigarette and vaping addiction to include alcohol and substance abuse.

The firm said it would also look to expand in the US, which is currently battling an opioid epidemic.

Serena Williams cap

“Since our last funding round 18 months ago, Quit Genius has grown rapidly,” said Quit Genius chief executive and co-founder Yusuf Sherwan.

“Our customer base has increased ten-fold, we have demonstrated industry-leading quit rates and expanded our product offering to vaping cessation.”

Will Gibbs, early-stage investor at Octopus Ventures, said: “When it comes to addiction, far too many people are still dying from deaths that are potentially avoidable.

Serena Williams

“That’s why the personalised digital approach taken by Quit Genius is so exciting, as it is far more effective at changing behaviours and will ultimately save lives.”

Alexis Ohanian and daughter

Alexis Olympia has a moment to break free! In a photo posted by her father, Alexis Ohanian, the adorable two-year-old got a chance to go outside and enjoy the sunset. “Brief respite,” the Reddit founder captioned the photo. In the picture, Serena Williams’ little girl practiced her social distancing, as she ran into a bunch of bubbles in the family backyard. The Williams-Ohanian household has been spending some quality time together indoors.

Alexis took to his social media to give his followers the encouragement they need to stay inside to help contain and prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. The 36-year-old also encouraged many organizations to close their doors.

EXCLUSIVE: Serena Williams, husband Alexis and daughter take a Sunday stroll before the start of the US Open ***SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS*** Please pixelate children's faces before publication.***. 25 Aug 2019 Pictured: Serena Williams, Alexis Ohanian, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. Photo credit: KAT / MEGA +1 888 505 6342 (Mega Agency TagID: MEGA488490_003.jpg) [Photo via Mega Agency]

“Picture from a hazy day at the Auckland Zoo back in January…We’re all going to have a lot of extra family time at-home in these coming weeks. It’s going to be hard, but we’ll persevere — and as a country, I hope this unites us against a common enemy that doesn’t discriminate based on our voting habits,” he wrote next to a picture of him and Olympia at the zoo.

He continued: “Please take this seriously. It’s not a time to panic, but it is a time to be prudent and responsible – especially because the most vulnerable among us are very much at risk.”

Serena Williams with coach

Little Olympia’s mom and dad have documented their precious quality time. Earlier this week, Serena shared a sweet selfie featuring her mini-me. In the caption less photo, the mother-daughter duo looks exactly alike as they pose for the camera. Olympia is keeping her parents busy, whether it’s joining her mother with makeup tutorials or making sure her father wakes up – in the morning. We’re sure that the adorable tot is making social distancing fun for her family.

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