Source Illustration: Li-Anne Dias
Fintech startup Paceline received a cash infusion of $5 million in seed funding to continue building out its health and wellness platform that rewards physical activity with financial benefits.
The San Francisco-based company is out to reinvent the financial industry with the aim of making it more technology-enabled and better at engaging with consumers.
“Financial services companies should not just force you to transact, but be there in a way you transact,” CEO Joel Lieginger told Crunchbase News. “Healthy people have a behavioral trait of prioritizing health and wellness, which makes them a better risk over time and a better contributor to society.”
Paceline is building out a full stack platform that will eventually have credit card, banking and insurance products. In fact, Lieginger said the company is building it backwards: building a “freemium” model of a financial services company and giving users rewards for free.
Here’s how it works: The platform tracks physical activity through wearables and also leverages customer spending data–accessed through a linked credit card–to curate rewards. Paceline uses this data to build financial products, starting with a health and wellness credit card and life insurance products, to change the behavioral habits of its members.
“People should be paid for the data they provide,” Lieginger added. “We want you to benefit from your data, and we can make a better world as a result.”
What investors have to say
The seed round was co-led by Montage Ventures and Propel Venture Partners, with participation from Northwestern Mutual and BlackRock’s Mark McCombe as an angel investor. This is the startup’s first institutional funding since the company was founded by Lieginger in 2019.
Funds will be used for product and engineering, as well as to build out the credit card and insurance products that will launch in 2021.
The breadth of investors involved includes a group of what Lieginger called “a unique mix of fintech, insurance and big funds on the future of health and wellness.”
“We are thrilled to be supporting Paceline’s mission to promote healthier lifestyles,” said Jay Reinemann, general partner at Propel Venture Partners, in a written statement. “Physical and financial health are tightly connected for the overall wellbeing of the consumer and at Paceline we have the opportunity to reward healthy consumers, and incentivize less healthy ones, with material financial benefit through financial products that better match their lifestyle.”
Since coming on the scene with its beta test in January, Paceline has amassed 50 brand partners. At the same time, members have logged more than 1.2 million workouts, which equates to more than 65 million exercise minutes. As a result, they have earned and redeemed more than 70,000 rewards valued at more than $500,000.
Meanwhile, Lieginger expects to double his team over the next 12 months, while also maintaining a lean center by partnering with companies that will provide resources as Paceline scales its product offerings.
The financial services market is valued at $2 trillion, Lieginger said. Paceline aims to make the industry more profitable, and he sees the market eventually becoming a $4 trillion one that would give back $1 trillion to users, which would be good for everyone.
Although Paceline has its roots in financial services, Lieginger sees the company also within the wellness industry. The Global Wellness Institute valued the global wellness economy at $4.5 trillion in 2018, and just the physical activity economy part of the industry is expected to surpass $1.1 trillion by 2023.
“We are creating a new category,” he said. “We are really a fintech company, but creating a community in health and wellness. That is the big trend going forward–embedded financial services–and we are building the biggest one for health and wellness.”