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Lux Capital partner Deena Shakir (L) and Summer Health co-founder and CEO Ellen DaSilva

Today, we’re announcing our investment in Summer Health, whose seed round Lux co-led with Sequoia along with an incredible list of co-investors, including Chelsea Clinton’s Metrodora Ventures, Box Group, Coalition Partners, a number of our own portfolio founders including Kate Ryder of Maven Clinic and Amira Yahyaoui of Mos. Founded by Ellen DaSilva, Summer Health is re-inventing pediatric care, and we couldn’t be more excited.

Pediatrics is deeply personal to me. And not just because I’m a parent of two young children or a prolific investor in women’s and family health. Born 101 years ago in Baghdad, my late grandfather was a pediatrician and public health practitioner; in fact, while working with the World Health Organization, he developed a device known as the “Shakir strip” to measure malnutrition and emaciation in children in a simple, user-friendly way that was accessible for families and providers anywhere.

Now, as a mother myself, I’ve had my own share of interactions with the pediatric world, from rare diagnoses and emergency surgeries to pandemic woes and everything in between. While so much of science and medicine has progressed since the time my grandfather practiced, unfortunately, the care experience for patients and providers has not improved much at all.

As the world went remote during the Covid-19 pandemic, so did many parts of the healthcare world. Although my grandfather passed over a decade ago, I was fortunate to have a few close pediatricians in my network of family and friends, and the exchanges of quick messages with them saved me and my family time and money (and some tricky health situations). Through Lux’s robust portfolio of healthtech investments over the last few years, it has become abundantly clear that message-first, asynchronous solutions were not only what families wanted and needed, but also what would scale and grow in today’s world, especially in the context of a “Great Resignation” among primary-care providers such as pediatricians.

Summer Health is the brainchild of Ellen DaSilva, an extraordinary founder and longtime healthtech executive whom I have had the pleasure of knowing for years. We first met three years ago through Lux partner Brandon Reeves, her classmate from business school, and we clicked right away with our shared interests in rapidly improving the quality of healthcare, our shared experiences as mothers of young children, and our shared values and work styles. We’d brainstorm ideas together, and in fact, I tried (repeatedly!) to recruit her as a senior executive for some of our portfolio companies. Ultimately, it became clear to me that she was going to start something herself, grounded not only in her professional background at Hims & Hers and early days at Twitter, but also from her own deeply personal experiences as a mother. I’m not shy about my belief that motherhood is a startup superpower, and Ellen and Summer Health personify it!

What Ellen conceived then launches today as Summer Health, a service that allows parents and caregivers to easily text pediatric-care physicians and get care within 15 minutes, all for a low monthly fee. It offers peace of mind, affordability, and most importantly, the ability to get accurate answers quickly for both acute and everyday pediatric needs. Ellen has recruited an incredible team to help her achieve this mission, including co-founder Matthew Woo, who joined from WhatsApp, and Head of Clinical, Dr. Ali Alhassani, a Harvard- and MIT-trained pediatrician with experience at BCG and Humana.

Unfortunately, getting care today can be astonishingly stressful — not to mention time-consuming and costly. The average American waits two weeks to meet with a primary-care physician, and Covid-19 exacerbated these dynamics, increasing some wait times by more than 100%. That’s partly because doctors are leaving the profession at record levels (1 in 5, with higher rates of dropouts from women, and reportedly also higher in pediatrics). The system is not serving patients or providers, both groups of which are burnt out from years under extreme pressure. Caregiving also historically puts an outsized burden on women, which has downstream economic implications on families and our broader economy.

No one is served well by the current system: not parents, not children, not doctors, and not clinics. Everyone is multi-tasking, and yet, pediatric care remains mired in age-old processes that require parents to take time off from work and doctors to take overtime to cover all the needs of our children today. One in four parents will take their children to urgent care in a given year, with costs that can quickly add up to hundreds (and often thousands) of dollars a year, not accounting for lost wages and time.

There’s a better way to serve parents and providers collectively, and that’s exactly the service Summer Health is building. 23% of pediatricians today work part time, and a disproportionate number of them are women. Pediatricians are also among the lowest-compensated medical specialties. That’s why message-based healthcare is so valuable here: it provides the intimacy and immediacy that parents require with the remote flexibility and income potential that pediatricians are looking for.

Lux Capital co-led Summer Health’s seed round of $7.5 million, and we look forward to serving as long-term partners of Ellen and the whole Summer team. In a post-Roe world, it is more crucial than ever to invest in the future of pediatric care and ensure that every parent has the information and support they need to ensure the health of their children.

I’ve personally been using the product in beta for months (having treated everything from rashes to seasonal allergies to GI issues for my own kids), and I already can’t imagine what parenting was like before this. I could not be more excited for the world to experience Summer! Sign up at www.summerhealth.com.

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