Inside the Win of the AfroTech Pitch Competition by Kliit Health, Sponsored by the American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact
Photo Credit: AfroTech
Start-up company, Kliit Health, Inc. won the opportunity of a lifetime at the 2019 AfroTech conference that took place on Nov. 7-9. The Los-Angeles-based femtech company took home a $10,000 prize after winning the pitch competition sponsored by the American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact.
Kliit Heath Inc. is a female sexual and reproductive healthcare platform founded in December 2018 by Crystal Evuleocha and Cassy Gibson. Kliit enables multicultural women to connect with a network of clinicians to ask questions about their sexual and reproductive health virtually through their mobile devices, according to the company.
Evuleocha and Gibson competed against a host of other founders including: Erik Young of Audios, Chloë Rogers of Community X, Michael Garrick of Fitnesse, Branden Criss of Rap Plug, Christian Hines of Semy, Ty’Lisha Summers of Spendebt and Zachary Johnson of TicketDM.
They each had a three-minute pitch presentation followed by a two-minute question and answer session. The three companies selected to participate in the finals the next day were Audios, Kliit Health, and Spendebt.
The finalists then presented their pitch in front of a panel of judges on the AfroTech main stage in front of over 5,000 techies in the audience. Judges for the competition were Aaron Samuels, co-founder and COO of Blavity, Inc., Kirby Harris, co-founder and Managing Partner of Base Ventures and Monique Idlett-Mosley, Managing Partner of Reign Venture Capital.
The Kliit team pitched their Kliit app, which allows chat-based interactions between users and OB-GYNs, nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, and sex therapists.
According to company, everyday millions of women go online to get answers to questions about their sexual and reproductive health because it’s cheap and accessible. The problem is some of the information online is unreliable which can lead to misdiagnosis, anxiety, and adverse events. There are also other factors including stigma, lack of insurance, and the bureaucracy of the current health system that keep women from receiving the right care. Through the Kliit app, women can get reliable health information from a network of vetted health providers for a low cost.
“Our app is focused on private chat-based interactions between users and health experts so that they can have reliable information on-demand,” Gibson, the director of product design for Kliit Health, said. “We are meeting users where they are and right now they are often on their smartphones and they’re Googling things, which can be very dangerous, so we want to step right in there and give them reliable info when they need it.”
Evuleocha and Gibson said their attendance at AfroTech and winning the competition was life changing and something they’ve never experienced before. The founders were overwhelmed with the amount of support they received, both in person and online by people who spanned many different demographics.
Evuleocha mentioned that she was nervous to pitch in front of thousands of people, but the positive energy and support of attendees overshadowed these nerves. The synergy and representation at the AfroTech conference made her feel welcome, since she mentioned being used to being in a room of two or three Black people in the same space.
“Looking into the crowd and seeing all of the faces that were just like smiling and cheering us on was incredible,” she said. “That gave me so much confidence. Not just with the crowd, even with the people we were competing against. I had never seen a group of people competing against each other, giving each other tips- – one of the competitors in the finals was just like ‘girl you’ve got this, just go up and get it done’ and that felt so great.”
Both founders think it’s important for corporations like The American Family Institute to represent emerging companies like their own because women are not only underrepresented in general when it comes to startup founding, but also when it comes securing the funds to grow.
“In terms of just being seen, known and supported, I think it’s really important to start supporting founders early on,” Evuleocha said. “I mean $10,000 for us is a significant amount of money at this stage and we’re hoping that we can use the money we’ve got and the support to scale and really show that with support from groups like The American Family Institute and from our larger communities, we can really make this happen in a big way.”
In terms of next steps, Kliit Health is conducting a 2000-user pilot study of its mobile app with their chief medical officer, Dr. Candice Fraser, an OB-GYN at Trinity Medical Care in Harlem. For the pilot, users get to ask two free questions.
Gibson advises that interested users should visit Kliit’s website to sign up for the beta test at Kliit.com/beta. This will help them get valuable feedback about the user experience and app functionality as they expand and grow.
In addition to rolling out the mobile app, Kliit is raising a pre-seed round and are welcoming investors who are interested in their work to reach out and support.
“I think it’s important to keep supporting early stage minority founders, keep giving us a voice and just keep encouraging us with the cash, mentorship and support we need,” Evuleocha said. “So, I think it’s great what they’re [American Family Institute] doing.”
Evuleocha and Gibson are grateful for the connections that they made during the AfroTech conference and those who are excited about what they have planned for their future.
“I think there’s a lot to be gained across the spectrum of supporters of this event and we’re just so thankful for each and everyone of them in whatever capacity that they’re contributing,” Gibson said.
“We chose to sponsor the AfroTech pitch event because the goals of AfroTech align with our purpose to provide access and opportunity to underrepresented founders,” Nyra L. Jordan, social impact investment director for The American Family Institute, said. “We hope that by supporting the pitch competition that we have been able to support the entrepreneurial dreams of innovators within the Black community.”
Visit the The American Family Institute website to learn more about the investment priorities of The American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact at amfaminstitute.com. Also, to learn more about Kliit Health, Inc. and sign up for the company’s beta app testing visit the website or Instagram.
This piece is brought to you in partnership with American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact.