Baltimore-based healthcare access startup Live Chair Health is looking to use the millions of dollars from the yearlong seed round it closed last week to bridge health disparities in the Black communities of new markets.
The 2021 RealLIST Startups honoree has continued to pivot from barbershop appointment app to barbershop-based healthcare access provider. It now is expanding to partnerships with community-based organizations to help health plans and systems engage with underserved peoples by meeting them at key gathering points. In these community spaces, Live Chair Health conducts health screenings and links residents with health services that they often go without.
“We had to iterate at a much faster rate because COVID decimated the volume that’s traditionally seen in barbershops and salons,” Live Chair CEO Andrew Suggs told Technical.ly. “We’ve expanded where we reach people. Through these partnerships with various community-based organizations, we’re looking to give them the infrastructure, and the tools, to help the members that they serve flourish.”
The $3.5 million raise was led by Healthy Ventures with participation from the Designer Fund, HealthCrowd cofounder Neng Bing Doh and National Basketball Association player Mason Plumlee’s Free Solo Ventures. All the funds were committed before the current tightening of VC purses and talks of a looming recession.
The company plans to expand into the southeast and mid-Atlantic United States. Over the next six months, Suggs plans to hire 10-15 people. The organization is looking for program managers to run the DC and Louisiana markets, a director of business operations and full stack engineers.
Whether the market tightens or expands, Suggs isn’t too worried about it impacting the trajectory of Live Chair Health. The company is in a resilient industry — healthcare — and his mission to put a dent in healthcare disparities in underserved communities, by increasing access to health care and getting people to get checkups more regularly, won’t change.
“In the history of our country there’s always going to be a recession,” Suggs said. “We might slow down hiring a little bit or we’re not as aggressive at growing at all cost. How we do business might change, but the ‘why’ will always remain the same.”
Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation.