LunaYou launches public benefit corporation, plans staff expansion

SAUL KAPLAN, founder and chief catalyst of LunaYou and the Business Innovation Factory, said that LunaYou continues to scale following the launch of a public benefit corporation. / PBN PHOTO/MICHAEL SALERNO

PROVIDENCE — LunaYou, a Business Innovation Factory-launched platform focused on pregnancy and postpartum care, is continuing to scale as its team works toward public availability.

“We hit an important milestone over the holidays,” said Saul Kaplan, founder and chief catalyst of LunaYou and the Business Innovation Factory, “which is, we took the prototype into the commercialization phase.”

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This shift meant launching a public benefit corporation in late December, Kaplan explained, which will help to grow the platform and prepare it for a public rollout.

“We’re now in those planning phases, beginning to engage the market, and that’s exciting for us,” Kaplan said. “It means we’re confident we’re on the right path.”

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This growth involves expanding in the local market, Kaplan said, while also looking to eventually make LunaYou available throughout the U.S.

Launched in late 2019 with a focus on pregnancy and postpartum care for women of color, around 100 participants have enrolled in LunaYou, up from 37 in June.

That month, LunaYou partnered with Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island for a two-year pilot program, granting access to members for three months following childbirth.

Around nine people currently work on the LunaYou team, Kaplan said, and the startup plans to hire more staff as the platform grows.

LunaYou aims to empower users and help improve physical and mental health outcomes during and after pregnancy. Participants have access to an app that allows them to log and track their health data, using markers such as sleep, social support and physical activity, and are also matched with a personal wellbeing coach.

While the public benefit corporation is a newer development for the program, it had been part of LunaYou’s plans from the platform’s beginning, Kaplan said.

LunaYou also signaled BIF’s shift to operating as an impact venture studio. While BIF, founded in 2005, used to sponsor projects for other entities, the organization now designs and operates its own programming.

The public benefit corporation will help LunaYou to survive independently, Kaplan said, allowing BIF to turns its attention to other projects. 

“LunaYou is the pioneer for us in demonstrating we can design an actual venture that can solve a social challenge,” Kaplan said, “and maternal health is our first challenge.”

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