Forta Health: Delivering Family-Powered Autism Therapy
Parents learn how to provide ABA therapy through Forta’s training program and become the caregivers their child needs
Alumni Ventures portfolio company Forta Health is making a profound difference in families’ lives by providing personalized care and ensuring early access to therapy critical to effective autism intervention.
Autism is a developmental disease caused when the brain develops differently from non-autistic people, manifesting in nerve cells or entire regions of the brain communicating differently with each other. Also known as an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), autism affects social interaction, communication, and behavior. It’s typically diagnosed in early childhood, characterized by a range of symptoms that differ in severity including difficulty in interactions, repetitive behaviors, and communication challenges.
ASD is impacting both children and their families in increasing numbers. CDC researchers reported that autism rates in the U.S. grew from 1 in 150 children in 2000 to 1 in 54 in 2016, and now stand at 1 in 44 children. While early intervention is considered vital in helping kids diagnosed with ASD, it’s often the case that families of autistic children struggle to find the support they need.
Forta Health has developed a telehealth platform that makes quality care more accessible by delivering at-home, personalized Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy. Widely considered the gold-standard treatment, ABA therapy shows high success rates in helping those on the autism spectrum improve behavior, develop new social skills, and achieve independence.
The platform provides parents and caregivers with 50 hours of online training and live study sessions with the support of Forta’s team of experts to educate them on ABA fundamentals and personalized treatment to meet their child’s specific needs. With this newfound knowledge, Forta prepares parents to become a Behavior Technician (BT) or Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) as needed per their state requirements.
Using AI to Streamline ABA Experience
Forta employs a vertically integrated care approach and combines individualized, one-on-one care with clinical-grade AI algorithms, providing a streamlined experience for children, families, and care providers. In addition to offering ABA training and telehealth services delivered by board-certified behavior analysts, the company’s proprietary autism algorithm ingests medical records, video calls, and other data to produce a personalized therapy plan. It also helps pair families with one of the many insurance companies that partner with Forta.
Forta was co-founded by CEO Ritankar Das, who was previously the founder and CEO of Dascena, where he developed machine learning algorithms to enable early disease intervention and improve care outcomes for patients. At 18, he was the youngest University Medalist (top graduating senior) in at least a century among over 6,000 graduates from UC Berkeley.
Ritankar went on to pursue a PhD at Cambridge but left a year later to found Dascena, which he helped scale to 200+ employees and tens of millions in annualized revenue before it was sold to CirrusDx in 2022. Other former Dascena team members now at Forta include its chief marketing, technology, and operating officers. The Forta’s team experience and prior success working together were among the top reasons AV found it an attractive deal. Others are shown below.
What We Liked About Forta Health
Waterman Ventures (for the Brown community) sponsored our initial investment in Forta Health. Among the company’s strengths identified by Waterman in its due diligence:
Potential $200B Market for Target ConditionsThe current value of the U.S. autism market is over $4 billion. However, the total addressable market is potentially much larger (i.e., ~$20B) if Forta can successfully “unlock” autism care for a broader range of the population. In addition, several additional conditions exist in which Forta’s therapy approach could be applied: ADHD ($29B), dementia & memory care ($23B), Type 2 diabetes ($67B), arthritis ($50B), and stroke ($12B).
Lead Investor with Relevant ExpertiseInsight Partners currently sits on the Forta board and brings its industry expertise and the signficant financial capacity of a fund with >$90B in Assets Under Management.
Innovative Care ModelUnlike traditional brick-and-mortar models, Forta’s AI-driven therapy selection enables care delivery by parents trained as registered behavior therapists.
How We Are Involved
In June and July 2023, Forta Health raised two Series A rounds. Alumni Ventures joined these raises alongside lead investor Insight Partners ($90B+ AUM), which has invested in more than 750 companies worldwide and has seen over 55 portfolio companies achieve an IPO, including several in the healthcare sector.
AV funds participating in the rounds alongside Waterman Ventures were the following Alumni Funds: Comm Ave Ventures (for the BU community), Stadium Avenue Ventures (for the Purdue community), and Yoshino Ventures (for the UW community). Three Focused Funds — AV’s Healthtech Fund, AI Fund, and Growth Fund — also participated, as did our Total Access Fund.
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