Liti Co-founder Fernando Vilela

In this Q&A you’ll hear from Fernando Vilela, co-founder of Liti, a Brazilian startup helping users overhaul poor lifestyle choices to increase healthspan. Fernando discusses why the traditional medical system isn’t built to treat unhealthy lifestyles and how his own health crisis led him to create a “health co-pilot”.

Can you tell us about what you’re working on at Liti?

Fernando Vilela: Liti is a health co-pilot for consumers – we reimagine the healthcare experience by seamlessly merging hardware, software and human expertise. We offer a subscription-based service that equips customers with our smart scale and a dedicated online medical team comprising a doctor, dietitian and behavioural scientist.

The app continuously communicates with our electronic health record (EHR) system, collecting vital data from users that shapes health-improvement strategies. This intricate integration has led to a 40% increase in daily usage.

At our core, we champion the philosophy of using food as medicine. Our protocols revolve around iterative food recommendations, tailored by real-time data from the smart scale and app interactions.

Meanwhile, our medical team offers holistic guidance, encompassing not just dietary choices but also sleep patterns, stress management, routine medical assessments and behavioural modifications. Subscribers also benefit from the community, curated recipes, dining tips and the services of other wellness providers.

With a 98% recommendation score and clinical results on par with some medications, including GLP-1 (which treats type 2 diabetes and obesity), Liti’s approach is affordable, user-centric, data-driven and anchored in established medical practices.

How did you come up with the idea? What key insight led you to pursue this opportunity?

FV: Our company was born out of my personal health journey. While leading marketing and growth at Rappi, I started to feel exhausted. Suspecting burnout, I sought medical advice, but despite seeing numerous specialists, my health issue remained unresolved.

The turning point came when I met Dr Eduardo Rauen, a renowned medical professional specialising in lifestyle medicine. He highlighted the profound impact of lifestyle choices on overall wellbeing, pointing out my need to lose 55lbs for optimal health. This was a revelation.

Like many people, I didn’t see myself as overweight, let alone obese. Encouraged by this new perspective, I committed to Dr Rauen’s clinical protocol and not only did I lose weight, but our doctor-patient relationship evolved into a genuine friendship. It created the space for dozens of brainstorming sessions.

As a doctor, his view is that being healthy shouldn’t be about managing diseases and that health 3.0 is all about the first chapter of medicine: lifestyle, health span and the quality of your longevity.

My view, as a consumer, is that changing your lifestyle is hard, and that the traditional healthcare system will always fail to address this because it was built to treat pain and disease, not to accommodate constant engagement.

With these insights, we conceptualised Liti to be a health co-pilot, guiding users towards superior health.

How did you turn your idea into a company?

FV: Our journey has had some big moments. One of the highlights was when monashees, a well-known VC in Latin America, led our pre-seed round. Soon after, Canary, another big name around here, took the lead for our seed round.

With their support, we put together a solid team. We were lucky to bring on board some folks who had been with Big Tech names in Latin America, like 99, Uber, Kavak, Gympass, Nubank and Stone. It felt like everything was falling into place – good backing and a team that knew their stuff. Together, we rolled up our sleeves and set out to create something we were proud of.

Since we launched in January 2022, we’ve had some “wow” moments, such as hitting $1M in yearly revenue, achieving 40% daily usage on the app, seeing a 40% increase in 12-month retention and, in the last quarter, our lead generation has expanded by 24% WoW (Week-on-Week) – all while decreasing CAC 60%.

How big can this get? What’s the addressable market and how do you go about capturing it?

FV: Latin America represents the third-largest private healthcare system in the world. Contrary to many other regions, 50% of healthcare expenditure in LatAm is out of pocket, and this often comes with compromised service quality. This scenario provides an opportune space for developing a leading consumer healthcare platform.

With a population of 650M, in which 70% are facing challenges with overweight and obesity, we aim to integrate top-tier technology that serves as a supportive guide for the entire demographic.

Who is the core customer? How are you acquiring customers? And how will you grow the customer base?

FV: Our core customers are men and women aged 30–40 who struggle with their weight. They recognise the interconnection between food preferences, weight and overall health.

Our growth strategy is rooted in a community-led approach, primarily powered by influencers and referrals from our engaged user base, as well as recommendations from doctors. We’re intensifying our efforts in this area because the outcomes have been consistently positive.

Moreover, we have entered into a partnership with a premium health insurance provider, collaborated with the equivalent of pharmacy chain CVS in Brazil and secured a significant Brazilian tech and agribusiness company as a paying client. We continuously nurture our relationships with these key stakeholders while refining our core product.

Looking at your road map, what are some of the milestones you’re targeting over the next 3-6 months?

FV: We believe that the essence of a successful business lies in robust execution. One of our foundational principles is to apply technology to enhance affordability, thereby creating a significant impact across the region.

We’ve recently introduced our second product, a more cost-effective version, which heavily incorporates technology and data feedback loops. This ensures that users receive the same level of engagement, experience and clinical outcomes as the original offering.

The next key milestone focuses on experimenting with various methods for our online appointment model. Drawing from scientific literature, we argue that the traditional concept of an appointment shouldn’t be restricted to just a meeting. By integrating asynchronous videos and voice notes into the user journey, we aim to evolve from a monthly meeting to a more frequent day-to-day guide for our users.

Our third objective will help us optimise growth metrics by adding technological solutions into our EHR, onboarding process and training funnel.

Anything else you’d like to share with readers?

FV: Creating Liti has been quite the journey. Setting up a healthcare company is complex – it’s all about trust and understanding the intricate dance between legislation, consumer preferences, providers and the medical community.

But seeing the impact we’re having on our customers’ lives, I genuinely believe we’re taking steps towards a brighter future in healthcare.

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