Toronto and Montreal-based healthtech startup KixCare has raised $2 million CAD in seed financing to give more Canadian families access to timely pediatric care.
The newly-launched company, which was created in March by founders who identified a gap in access to children’s healthcare that had been exacerbated by COVID-19, is looking to use its fresh funding to take pediatric care virtual.
After launching its platform in Ontario this August and receiving strong feedback, KixCare wants to make its service available nationwide, beginning with Quebec and Western Canada.
“Unfortunately, millions of families don’t have easy access to same-day [or] next-day healthcare for their children.”
-Daniel Warner, KixCare’s co-founder and CEO
KixCare, which connects parents and their children to pediatricians for virtual consultations, was founded earlier this year by a team of healthcare experts and practitioners. To support its expansion plans, the startup intends to use the new capital to grow its team, ramp up its marketing efforts, and fuel product development.
The startup’s all-equity seed round, which closed last month, was led by Montreal-based Esplanade Ventures, which focuses on early-stage digital healthcare companies. The round was also supported by Horizon Capital and other undisclosed angel investors.
“Unfortunately, millions of families don’t have easy access to same-day [or] next-day healthcare for their children,” KixCare CEO and co-founder Daniel Warner told BetaKit. “We’re the first pediatric care platform that enables them to have somewhere to turn to seven days a week, starting right here in Ontario.”
Through its platform, KixCare aims to improve access to pediatric care in Canada, which has decreased during the pandemic amid service restrictions and increased demand, as the country’s health system has been stretched by COVID-19. Warner and KixCare are banking that many pediatric health concerns “can and should” be addressed virtually.
Typically, to access pediatric care, Canadian parents must take their children to a health clinic. But during the pandemic, and even before, Warner said appointments “are far and few between” due a lack of capacity within the community-based health system, and parents need another place to turn amid COVID-19 and the fall return to in-person schooling.
KixCare offers families secure, virtual consultations with pediatricians. The startup also provides parents with access to allied health specialists across a variety of disciplines, including psychologists, behavioural therapists, dietitians, concussion specialists, and more, to address concerns that range from mental health, to sleep and lactation.
According to KixCare, these experts are available seven days a week, and outside of traditional clinic hours, either by appointment or within the hour to address “more urgent situations.”
“Parenting through the pandemic has been very challenging for so many,” said Warner, who has navigated COVID-19 as the father of three young girls. “We’re all very grateful for having a wonderful pediatric hospital system here in Ontario and other provinces, but in terms of online health or community-based health for kids, the options are sometimes far and few between.”
KixCare was founded earlier this year by Warner and a team of healthcare veterans that includes Dr. Sheldon Elman, KixCare’s chairman, and Dr. Harley Eisman, the startup’s chief medical officer, who also serves as the medical director of pediatric emergency services at Montreal Children’s Hospital.
Elman, who is an experienced family physician, is also the chairman and founder of KixCare’s lead investor Esplanade and a founding partner of Montreal’s Persistence Capital Partners (PCP), a healthcare-focused private equity firm. Prior to launching Esplanade in February 2020, Elman founded Medisys Health Group, a health service provider based in Montreal that was acquired from PCP by Telus in 2018.
Warner described Elman as “certainly the visionary” behind KixCare, alongside Eisman and Dr. Elyssa Elman, Sheldon’s daughter. “They’re all doctors and they know, inherently well, the gaps in the system,” he said.
“As a practicing family physician with over 45 years of experience, I’m acutely aware of the access problem that exists in Canadian healthcare,” Elman told BetaKit. “Brick-and-mortar healthcare comes with busy waiting rooms, long wait times, and limited hours, meaning that patients can’t get care when they need it. As a father of 2 and grandfather of 4, I’m convinced this problem is magnitudes larger for quality pediatric care.”
In Ontario, KixCare has helped over 1,000 families to date with the help of pediatricians and other pediatric care specialists from SickKids in Toronto, Ottawa-based Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO), and the London Health Sciences Centre.
With the guidance of Elman and Eisman, KixCare intends to expand into Quebec this quarter. After that, Warner said KixCare plans to target Western Canada, including Alberta and British Columbia, which he said make sense from a market size and health system structure standpoint.
“Our goal is to help every single family in Canada,” said Warner.
Feature image from KixCare