WellTok Raises $2.1M to Build Private, Health-Related Social Networks

By Nathaniel Mott , written on October 2, 2012

From The News Desk

We end up writing about health and fitness a lot on PandoDaily. A growing number of companies are trying to tackle the belly problem, and the trend doesn't appear to be losing any steam. And who can blame them? Users that rely on a product to stay well and fit are happy users, and are more likely to fork over some cash until they finally keel over.

WellTok, a Delaware-based software company that builds "health-related social networks" is a prime example. People that participated in the company's "Race to the Moon" event walked over one billion steps – or, as the official announcement puts it, the equivalent of 8.5 billion cupcakes laid end to end. In case you aren't up on your cupcake math, that's a lot of steps.

The company has recently raised $2.15 million of a $2.4 million funding round, according to a filing made with the SEC. WellTok previously raised $4.97 million of a $5 million Series A round that started in August of 2010 and ended one year later, around the time that the company announced a partnership with HealthAmerica.

Dubbed the first of its kind in Pennsylvania, the partnership between HealthAmerica and WellTok gives the health insurance company (HealthAmerica) access to WellTok's social networking application, CafeWell.

“In today’s world, everyone uses their smart phones and other social media avenues,” HealthAmerica COO Mary Lou Osborne said in the announcement. “HealthAmerica understands the growing presence of social media in the marketplace and realizes the need for this type of technological advance as a member touch point.”

Well, finally. One of the oldest rules in business is "go where the customers are," and the customers are on social networks. The phone tree has become an antiquated model for communication (though, interestingly enough, I was bounced around one as I tried to call WellTok for comment), and most customers would rather use a social network than call an office for their questions or complaints.

I'm not sure that most people are interested in participating in a social network run by or with their insurance provider, however. Talking about your health with your peers, a la Fitocracy, feels natural – talking about your health with other people that happen to have the same insurance plan while the insurers are watching is entirely different.

Still, WellTok seems to have found its niche. Health providers and insurers want to give people a place to get healthier – at least partially because a healthy person costs less than someone an unhealthy one – and people don't want to have to call their insurance agency every time there's a problem. WellTok's products are, at least on the surface, making potential partners and users a win-win proposition.

[Illustration adapted from vectorportal]