A $300M Company that Offers Little Value
By Jared Dashevsky
Levels is a metabolic health startup that uses continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) to provide real-time feedback on how diet and lifestyle choices impact metabolic health.
“Metabolic health” is a pretty vague term, but it seems Levels is mainly focused on blood glucose to prevent metabolic dysfunction. How?
[By] empowering people with data about their own bodies, so they can take action to live a healthy lifestyle and feel their best.
The product is still in its infancy but is extravagantly expensive at $400 for the one-month program. That’s over a month of food expenses for me!
The CGM product is a gimmick.
Unless you have type 1 diabetes or insulin-dependent type 2 diabetes, there’s no reason you need to be monitoring your blood glucose in real-time. If you have a working pancreas and insulin receptors, your body will predictably increase insulin and glucagon in response to blood glucose levels:
- After you eat a meal, blood glucose will rise. Insulin levels will consequently rise to decrease blood glucose.
- While you fast, blood glucose is low. Glucagon levels will consequently rise to increase blood glucose.
There, I told you everything the app will tell you after you eat or wake up.
And if you don’t want to take my word, go to your annual check-up (which is a free visit) with your primary care provider, who will accurately tell you your risk of developing type 2 diabetes based on your blood pressure, weight and lipid levels. I just saved you $400 this month. You’re welcome.
Moving on, Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), who invested in Levels, said the following:
Levels is an immediate answer for the metabolic health crisis, the defining health crisis of our era.
CGM is far from the “immediate answer” to the metabolic health crisis. To solve the metabolic health crisis, start with addressing social factors by increasing access to fresh foods, education, health and wellness programs and primary care physicians. That being said, the price of Levels is comical given their ambition to tackle metabolic dysfunction, which disproportionately affects low-income populations.
But, They Will Make Money
Whether the product should be used or not is one question. Whether the product will make money is another. This product will make money—a lot.
There is a massive market of fitness and health fanatics who will do and pay anything to stay at the forefront of their health.
Take a look at fitness wearable Whoop, whose annual subscription costs $300. I have a subscription, and I know about a dozen other Huddlers who have a Whoop, too. We love the health insights it provides us. The company is valued at over $3B.
I think Levels is worth its $300M valuation, but the actual value of its product is nil for those without diabetes. Here’s how I would go about deciding if I want to subscribe to Levels: