Arun Gupta likes mixing software and healthcare.
The New Yorker, who calls himself a “prototypical entrepreneur,” also likes Orange County, having discovered it a few years ago when friends told he and his wife about medical treatments for their young son were available in the area.
A visit for a few weeks turned into years and Gupta and his family haven’t left, finding a home in Newport Beach and getting involved in the local YPO chapter.
“I feel plugged in and supported here,” he told the Business Journal.
Gupta last August was appointed chief executive at Big Health, the maker of a “digital therapeutics” app focused on mental health, which that aims to help patients reduce their reliance on sleeping pills and anti-anxiety drugs.
Big Health started in the United Kingdom and technically its headquarters is now in San Francisco, although Gupta said not many people go to the office, including himself.
Gupta runs the company, which has 200 employees, from Newport Beach.
The company’s raised $100 million, including a $75 million Series C funding round a year ago led by new investor SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2.
“It’s a real company,” Gupta said. “It’s a leading digital therapeutics company. It’s pure digital software—not dependent on a clinician.”
Gupta has a long history involved in startups, including as a general partner at Accretive LLC, a N.Y.-based VC and PE firm where he participated in the building of over 10 industry-defining technology companies including several IPOs such as Accolade and R1 RCM.
He also founded Quartet Health, where he raised hundreds of millions in capital by providing insurers and health systems with a way to enhance collaboration between physical and mental health providers.
The idea for Big Health was born when co-founder Peter Hames had trouble getting anything other than medication for his insomnia. He discovered Dr. Colin Espie’s book on cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia and realized what had worked for him could work for millions. Espie then became Hames’ co-founder.
The company says 82% of patients treated for mental health receive medication.
“Although studies show that three-quarters of people prefer a non-drug approach to mental health care, the vast majority of mental health patients today receive medications, often associated with substantial risk of harm or side effects,” Hames said in a press release last year.
“Our digital therapeutics offer an equitable, safe, and effective non-drug alternative at a huge scale, and our products are backed by leading clinical evidence, with more than 28,000 participants across our clinical studies.”
The company’s first two digital therapeutics are “Sleepio” and “Daylight” for insomnia and anxiety, respectively.
Users download Big Health’s app, which features a program to help patients overcome their issues. The company says it has 80 published papers to support its thesis, including one claim that Sleepio use “was shown to lower health care costs by $1,677 per employee.”
“There’s a lot of evidence that it works,” said Gupta, who first joined the board in 2019.
He also noted that as the prevalence of mental health conditions continue to rise, mental health providers cannot meet the demand through in-person or teletherapy alone.
Customers are large companies like Citibank, Google and Home Depot that offer the plan as a benefit to their employees.
Big Health plans to launch six new digital therapeutics by 2024.
While Gupta declined to disclose revenue, he said, “We’re growing a lot—upwards of 100% growth this year.”
It’s had 300,000 patients in the past decade, including 100,000 alone last year.
“We have a lot of growth ahead of us.”