DTC’s Daily Digest brings you the latest news on the world’s fastest growing direct-to-consumer brands. In today’s edition: Nurx raise USD$32m for DTC birth control; Monzo getting into loans to drive profitability; and SmileDirectClub looking to IPO.
Nurx raise USD$32m for DTC birth control
Birth control delivery startup Nurx is nearing a USD$300m (£247m) valuation, as it raised USD$32m (£26m) in Series C equity funding. The San Francisco-based business has raised more than USD$90m (£74m) in debt and equity funding to date.
The goal, Nurx chief executive officer Varsha Rao explains, is to become a telehealth platform focused on all sensitive health needs.
She told TechCrunch: “We see there is a need to help people that may have issues that often carry stigma and judgment by providing a streamlined platform. What the company is doing in terms of providing more accessibility from a physical and economic perspective to critical health services is very inspiring for me.”
The business plans to use the funding to double its engineering team and launch additional “sensitive” healthcare services. In addition to shipping birth control via DTC, including the pill, shot, ring and patch, Nurx provides emergency contraception, STI and HPV testing and screening kits, and PrEP medication, the once-daily pill that reduces the risk of getting HIV.
Monzo getting into loans to drive profitability
The company, which was valued at £2bn in a fundraising this year, began testing the loans with a small number of customers in 2018, but launched the service more widely on Thursday, offering loans of between £200 and £15,000. As of last year, it also offers overdrafts.
The move into customer loans marks a major step in the company’s attempts to increase revenues and move toward sustainability. It has attracted more than 2m users to its app-based current account with perks such as spending analysis and cheap foreign exchange transactions, but has racked up more than £85m in losses since it was founded in 2015. It had previously dismissed the importance of customer lending, focusing instead on earning fees by recommending products from other providers.
It is the second of the UK’s digital banks to start offering personal loans, following smaller rival Starling Bank’s launch last year. Starling lends up to £5,000 at rates of between 11% and 15%.
SmileDirectClub looking to IPO
SmileDirectClub, a DTC brand selling invisible dental aligners, has filed a registration for a proposed IPO, with the number of shares to be offered and the price range for the proposed offering have not yet been determined.
Prior to this, SmileDirectClub reached a USD$3.2bn (£2.6bn) valuation following a USD$380m funding round last October. Investors from Clayton, Dubilier & Rice led the round, which featured participation from Kleiner Perkins and Spark Capital. This funding came on top of Invisalign maker Align Technology’s USD$46.7m (£38.5m) investment in SmileDirectClub in 2016, and another USD$12.8m (£10.6m) investment in 2017 to own a total of 19% of the company.
In 2018, SmileDirectClub’s revenues came in at USD$432.2m (£356.4m), a significant uptick from just USD$147m (£121m) the year prior. Before shipping the aligners, patients either take their dental impressions at home and send them to SmileDirectClub or visit one of the company’s “SmileShops” to be scanned in person. SmileDirectClub says it costs 60% less than other types of teeth-straightening treatments.
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