Mango Health nabs $1.45M to build gamified mobile health apps

As interest and activity in mobile health continues to climb, San Francisco-based Mango Health is set to announce that it has raised $1.45 million in seed funding to bring a new collection of consumer-focused mobile health apps to market.
The six-person company, which is launching Wednesday, is led by Jason Oberfest and Gerald Cheong, both former executives of mobile gaming company ngmoco. Mango is backed by Floodgate Fund, First Round Capital, Steve Anderson with Baseline Ventures, Zynga (s ZNGA) co-founder and CEO Mark Pincus and Square COO Keith Rabois.
The founders say they plan to create a range of consumer health apps, which will employ the game design principles developed during their years in social gaming. But its first app, which it will start beta testing this month, aims to help people stick to their medication, as well as monitor information related to their meds.
“Our main focus is helping consumers better manage and improve their health, and helping consumers get better about taking supplements and medications is a big part of that given how many Americans (four out of five) take either a nutritional supplement, a prescription medication or an over the counter drug each week,” Oberfest said in an email.
As we’ve reported before, mobile health is exploding, with more than 13,000 health apps available for consumer consumption. The U.S. mHealth (or mobile health) market earned $230 million in 2010 and is estimated to reach $392 million in 2015, according to research and consulting firm Frost and Sullivan.
But, researchers and experts in the field say very few mobile apps are actually gaining adoption and proving valuable to consumers. According to the Pew Internet & American Life Center, only ten percent of adult cell phone users in the U.S. have downloaded a health app, with some never using it or only using it once.
Several apps already help consumers adhere to their prescriptions, but Oberfest said Mango Health’s first app is distinct in that it allows consumers to maintain a complete log of their personal health activity, compare themselves to others taking the same medication or who have similar conditions and informs consumers about potential interactions between their medications, food and supplements. The app incents people to maintain their health and (engage with the app) by giving them discounts and rewards for sticking to their schedule.
Like other developers tackling the mobile health market, Oberfest said Mango Health anxiously awaits the FDA’s next draft guidance on the regulation of mobile health apps (the agency issued its first draft last July) and will follow any guidelines that their app is subject to, from the FDA or another regulatory agency.