Venice-based online wellness platform connects makes it easy to find affordable holistic care
By Jenn McKee
It seems painfully ironic that Kenshō Health – an online holistic healthcare marketplace based in Venice – officially launched in February 2020, mere weeks before the world shut down due to a worldwide pandemic.
In another way, though, the timing seemed uncanny.
“From a demand perspective, one of the silver linings is people started focusing on their health more, and looking for more alternatives and different ways to solve ongoing problems,” said Kenshō cofounder Danny Steiner. “And chronic and situational health issues became more apparent, I think, during the pandemic. So with that, folks started turning toward platforms like ours, seeking out different types of care to solve their addictions, fatigue, stress, or anxiety.”
Steiner met Kenshō cofounder Krista Berlincourt four years ago, in advance of a group trip. The two hit it off immediately, bonding over their shared zeal for holistic medicine.
“I’ve been practicing meditation for many years, and right around the time I met Krista, I was searching for a name to identify this feeling of insider awakening – kind of a flash moment of inspiration,” Steiner said. “And of course Zen Buddhism had a perfect description of that, which is Kenshō.”
Berlincourt, meanwhile, had previously suffered severe adrenal fatigue in 2015, racking up $20,000 in medical bills while getting no relief or definitive answers. She traveled the world to explore alternative healing methods, curing herself while also becoming an advocate for what’s called “whole person health.”
“As in, ‘OK, your biomarkers and bloodwork are great, you don’t have COVID-19, but you’re going through a mental downfall, your work is suffering, and your family is falling apart,’” Berlincourt said. “The pandemic was really an opportunity for us to support people, and because, for many people, this is their first time finding new forms of care beyond a GP, we really had an opportunity to support them with care navigation.”
Berlincourt and Steiner have kept Kenshō’s mission – to make the world healthier, one person at a time – at the forefront throughout the pandemic, offering free content and classes.
“Honestly, all we cared about was helping more people, and luckily, that also served the business in the end,” Steiner said.
Yet Steiner and Berlincourt also, during this time, decided to re-launch Kenshō with a new emphasis.
“We have shifted our strategy in such a way where we’re really focused on providing a membership for health coaching, and using that health coach as a conduit, or a partner who’s with you at all times for your health care, to provide you with referrals in our network of specialists, or to support you with easy, at-home lab testing,” Berlincourt said.
You might wonder if this was Berlincourt and Steiner’s long game plan for Kenshō all along, but the company’s evolution has been far more organic than that.
“The reason we got into this is to make people healthier, and to make it easier for people to find good health,” Berlincourt said. “But then suddenly you find yourself in an environment where the product’s only useful to someone if they’re meeting. Like, it almost feels like a dating app… Before, we hadn’t considered that health coaching was the pathway. You’re constantly putting together new pieces… But it really is proven that the number one thing you could give anyone who’s dealing with healthcare is a coach. Someone to help you navigate, and be a consistent through-line across, your health care experiences, and to remove this idea of healthcare as something that’s purely reactive.”
One thing that’s been consistent since the very beginning, though, is Kenshō’s rigorous vetting process.
“We really wanted to lean into evidence-based holistic care and whole person care,” Steiner said. “So the evidence behind the efficacy of these practices has always been super-important to us, and that obviously leads into our vetting process. So all the practices on the platform have gone through a filtration process of, can this be proven by, mostly, meta-analyses, but also double-blind studies, in a western sense? So we have over the years gotten rid of providers that don’t fit that bill, and we’ve become quite strict about that. … The process is comprehensive, but it hasn’t deterred thousands of providers from signing up – which is always a good balance.”
While Kenshō and its providers have been bolstering their credibility, Americans have been opening their minds to the idea of integrated health care.
“COVID-19 and the pandemic pushed us forward five or 10 years,” Steiner said. “… When we first started fundraising, back in 2018, the conversation would be half just providing out that this was real. Investors would push back so hard on, like, ’Is this really a market? Do people actually do this? This is kind of woo-woo stuff.’ That’s never the conversation anymore. And that’s over just two or three years.”
Kenshō originally targeted providers in New York City and Los Angeles – partly because densely populated markets are ideal for testing a concept – but they’ve since seen demand rise in other parts of the country, too, across various age groups.
“Our brand is designed to appeal to people who are in their 20s to early 50s, but I would say statistically, it targets millennials, because there’s a mindset, and it’s really around an age trigger,” Berlincourt said. “In marketing, or service companies, you call those ‘life stage moments.’ Health becomes a new, novel conversation for people when they turn 30. … In your 20s, it’s almost a moot point. You don’t even consider your health. And then it’s this groundswell of awareness in your 30s, and it feels very immediate.”
This is where Kenshō can step in to lend a guiding hand.
“Health coaching can be great to remove the delta between ‘Something’s wrong’ and ‘Here’s how to solve it,’” Berlincourt said. “That said, my mom’s friends are super excited about signing up for it, too. … It’s really for anyone who has something that they’d like to work on, or just wants to feel better.”