Fastic, the Berlin-based health tech startup behind an app that guides users through intermittent fasting, has raised $5 million in seed funding to fuel expansion in the US, where its growth rate is threefold that in Europe. "Americans spend more money on diets than it would take to fight world hunger. This is a problem we want to solve,” says co-founder Philip Wayman. Fastic isn’t a diet plan, though, nor is it geared specifically to weight loss. The app is based on a biological process called autophagy, for which Japanese cell biologist Yoshinori Ohsumi won the Nobel Prize in 2016. His research showed that intermittent fasting can help with cell renewal, ultimately lowering the chances of disease and slowing the aging process. The digital health startup's other founder, Sebastian Wettcke, grew up fasting; his parents have run a fasting hotel in Germany for 25 years, which also happens to be Wettcke’s age. "For me, it was clear that I wanted to bring the knowledge about this way of life to everyone,” he says. “The solution to lead a healthier life lies in our body itself.”
Indeed, the founders want to use autophagy to combat obesity and improve people’s overall health. In the app, users can educate themselves on nutrition, track their progress, establish positive daily habits, practice mindfulness and fitness in one place. The startup reports over 6 million downloads since its launch in April 2019, and this past August, American downloads surpassed German downloads for the first time. The team, which is distributed across Berlin, Kiev, London, Zurich and Barcelona, will use the new funding to internationalise the app further. The seed round included investments from 15 entrepreneurs and investors, such as Trivago founder Rolf Schrömgens, Jan Beckers from Ioniq, Lawrence Leuschner of Tier Mobility and serial-entrepreneur Benjamin Bak.
Photo: Fastic co-founders Sebastian Wettcke and Phil Wayman