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Naveen Jain and Viome test
Viome CEO Naveen Jain shows how to put a stool sample into a kit for analysis. (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle)

Viome, the wellness startup founded by Seattle-based tech entrepreneur Naven Jain, has raised $5.5 million in a new round of funding, GeekWire has learned.

Jain said $5 million of the new round comes from healthcare company Physician Partners, which is also collaborating with Viome to study the impact of its wellness plan. The additional $500,000 came from a second investor which Jain declined to identify. Past investors include prominent Silicon Valley venture capital firm Khosla Ventures.

Viome has been growing steadily in the past year: Jain said the company’s technology, which aims to treat chronic diseases by sequencing the microorganisms inside our guts, has now been used by customers and the company is gathering feedback on the process.

It has also nearly tripled its employee count, growing from 45 employees last July to 125 now. The new funding brings its total funds raised to $26.5 million, following a $21 million funding round last July.

“The idea is: How do we make a dent in the healthcare spending?” Jain said. “So we are working with [Physician Partners] to use Viome to really show that if people can prevent chronic diseases or even delay chronic diseases or reverse chronic disease, how much savings can we have?”

Chronic diseases like diabetes, obesity and Alzheimers are among the biggest killers in the U.S. They are also among the most costly to the system and, in the eyes of many, one of the biggest opportunities to improve health while lowering healthcare costs.

Viome, whose employees are split between New York and California, is approaching the problem by examining the microbiome, the ecosystem of microscopic organisms that live inside people’s gut and gastrointestinal system.

“What we’ve done now is, for the first time, look at a molecular level at every single thing that’s going on inside your gut,” Jain said.

He is hopeful that this approach will help customers make lifestyle and health choices that will head off a potential disease.

“None of us wake up in the morning and say, ‘Honey, I was out last night with the boys. I think I might have caught obesity. I think I caught diabetes last night,'” Jain said. “You don’t quite catch these things, you develop them for a long period of time.”

Viome is hoping to intervene early and give customers actionable ways to prevent that development.

The approach is similar to that of Seattle-based company Arivale, which uses data including a customer’s microbiome and genetic profile to create a personalized wellness plan, complete with a health coach.

Unlike Arivale, Viome does not offer health coaching services. The service is also significantly less expensive: Customers will shell out $399 for one year of Viome Essential, while Arivale’s baseline program runs at $199 per month.

Jain is still based in Bellevue, Wash., just outside Seattle, where he also runs the BlueDot innovation factory. Viome was the first commercial venture to come out of that project. Jain’s past work includes leading Microsoft’s MSN group and founding companies including Infospace and Intelius.

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