Health-focused social networking startup Alliance Health Networks has raised $3.3 million in a third round of funding. Led by Highway 12 Ventures, existing investor EPIC Ventures also participated in this latest round.
Launched in 2006, Alliance Health's first social network was DiabeticConnect.com -- a social network for people with diabetes, which now has a reported 50,000 registered members, and about 900,000 unique monthly users, according to Compete.
What attracted Highway 12 Ventures to Alliance Health Networks? "Clearly we as a country have serious challenges when it comes to healthcare," said Phil Reed, general partner at the firm. "That's what intrigued us about Alliance."
The funding is expected to help build new social networks dedicated to other serious chronic medical conditions and diseases. Obesity, heart disease, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis are all expected areas of focus for the company going forward.
Stead Burwell, Alliance Health's CEO, said that such communities can and should extend beyond those suffering from illness.
"Whenever someone is afflicted with a major disease or health condition, it's never just that person who is affected," Burwell said. "There is typically an extended community of individuals, service providers, and products each driven by one person's health condition."
Among consumers and advertisers, a market for health-related online platforms certainly exists. And it's not only baby boomers visiting health and wellness resources online, as over 50% of young people ages 13-24 are accessing the same information, according to a recent study from Ypulse, an independent media platform for youth media and marketing professionals, the sexual health-focused nonprofit ISIS, young leader support organization YouthNoise, and market research firm Peanut Labs.
What's more, the health care industry -- historically big advertisers -- continues to move a greater share of ad dollars online, according to recent data from The Nielsen Co.
To date, the company will have now raised $6.6 million.