Consumer health and wellness site Greatist raises $4.5M to move beyond media

By Jonah Comstock
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New York City-based Greatist, an online publication and media brand that focuses on health and wellness content, has raised $4.5 million, bringing its total investment to $8 million. Floodgate led the round, with participation from Strauss Zelnick, Andy Russell, John Gardner, David Pecker, and Startup Health. Previous investors including RiverPark Ventures, Vayner/RSE, Jon Miller, Ramit Sethi, and Chris Hughes also participated.

Greatist has been building its brand for four and a half years and is now profitable, CEO and founder Derek Flanzraich told MobiHealthNews. They get 10 million unique pageviews a month and have nearly 2 million newsletter subscribers. But for some time the company has maintained that it will turn that brand power toward some kind of paid consumer health endeavor.

"The goal for Greatist has always been to go beyond media to use this brand platform as a springboard, as a starting point for figuring out what consumers are really willing to pay for," Flanzraich said. " It's to be determined what that looks like. We’re not getting ahead of ourselves."

Greatist bought Sportaneous, a small app for finding nearby fitness classes, back in April 2013. At that point Flanzraich told GigaOM about expanding to " a new product that puts a social layer around people’s fitness tracking activities". But in the meantime, the company hasn't done much with the acquisition. That's not to say they don't recognize the importance of mobile.

"Everything we do is mobile-first," Flanzraich told MobiHealthNews. "It would be silly not to -- 70 percent of our audience is mobile or tablet. We imagine that will continue to move in that direction. We spend very little time focusing on our desktop experience, and most of the time talking about the mobile experience. But we’re a little wary of the app-first approach. So we don’t have an app today, but we feel like the mobile web is how most people are engaging with brands and we’re also trying to reach a mainstream audience."

Now, though, Flanzraich says the new funding is "both to double down on our current product and to invest in R&D, so to speak".

"We’re proud of being a next generation media company, but emphasis is on next generation," he said. "We think building a brand people trust, truly trust, in the consumer health space is a rare thing today, especially a brand that resonates with millennials. We’re in a really great position to help identify what consumer health success stories will be. ... I think the consumer health space has, unfortunately, never been more wide open. There are lots of great startups in the space and a lot of great opportunities. Our job is not to replace what’s out there, but to point people in the right directions to the best stuff, maybe eventually to figure out what we can do ourselves and do better."