In this Q&A, you’ll hear from Peter Arian, founder & CEO of Juna, a sexual wellness and diagnostics platform. Peter discusses reducing stigmas and increasing accessibility through telehealth and at-home STI testing kits — especially among Gen Z. And he explains how working with insurance providers and college health centers makes proactive care affordable for those that need it most.
Can you tell us about what you’re working on at Juna?
Peter Arian: Juna offers telehealth medicine visits and at-home test kits for sexual health.
Working with insurance providers, we simultaneously increase accessibility for STI testing while boosting voluntary screenings through improved discretion.
STI rates have reached an all-time high across college campuses, and the reasons for the lack of STI testing aren’t hard to understand: It’s expensive, inconvenient, and awkward. After all, who wants to be spotted in the STI clinic waiting room on campus?
The whole process has been stigmatized and equated with extreme illness versus being a normal step in sexual health. Complicating the issue further, in the current DTC healthcare market, college students can’t afford even the simplest out-of-pocket care, like proactive testing.
Our ability to work with insurance providers allows for a more holistic approach to clinical care while effectively communicating the importance of sexual health through our organic campus reach.
How did you come up with the idea? What key insight led you to pursue this opportunity?
PA: Juna originated through my personal experience in getting tested. I couldn’t afford the out-of-pocket costs, and I thought including insurance providers was a necessary step.
Also, getting tested proactively was a painstaking and awkward process. I looked at my options and realized the last place I wanted to go was the local clinic, where I might bump into friends living across the facility.
So, like so many students in this situation, I drove miles out of the way and got tested across town. It was awkward, long, and uncomfortable.
That ordeal opened my eyes up to the broader struggle faced by young people who don’t have access to convenient and culturally relevant sexual health services.
How did you turn your idea into a company?
PA: Kicking off in March 2022, I knew building our community was going to be crucial.
When evaluating brands in the consumer health market, we saw many have become debt vehicles for online advertising. We knew building a company—and a household name—on pure ads was not sustainable, and this turbulent market proves that even further.
Instead, we set out to organically foster the massive network effects of vocal users, and in April, we onboarded the founding team.
Our chief medical officer Kyle Hoedebecke previously worked as the founding UM medical director at Oscar Health, leading a team of nurses and physicians nationally. Prior to this, he spent 17 years in the US Army leading DoD outpatient clinics in Korea, with recognition from the surgeon general as the physician of the year in 2017.
Our CTO Nilan Saha built the infrastructure required to support payors, labs, providers, and patients. Most of these systems had to be built in-house, and Nilan’s background as a data scientist was crucial in driving tech-enabled products.
As of this June, we are collaborating with campuses in California and Florida. We’ve built a very strong community with on-premise and off-premise student initiatives. Reaching virality on platforms such as TikTok while working directly with student clubs has been exciting for all of us.
We’re also proud to have backers such as Tim Draper, Pure Ventures, Fitt Capital*, Startup Health, Hustle Fund, Ride Home Fund, and more.
How big can this get? What’s the addressable market and how do you go about capturing it?
PA: Young adults aged 15–24 account for 50% of all new STIs despite representing 25% of the population. Currently, 34M sexually active young adults need to be tested proactively annually.
The primary care Juna provides is capturing users that traditionally would not seek clinical services. We feel our ability to engage young adults will lead to a strong need for expanded primary care services that are not being addressed by the market.
Who is the core customer? How are you acquiring customers? And how will you grow the customer base?
PA: Gen Zers come to us with a clear need to access necessary and relevant care. Forging relationships, we’ve been distributing kits with early student adopters while establishing campus partnerships.
We’ve also been fortunate to have customers push Juna towards clubs and campus health services. And we expect both organic opportunities and established partnerships to keep growing as we expand our clinical coverage.
Looking at your road map, what are some of the milestones you’re targeting over the next 3-6 months?
PA: We’ve built an amazing product and team while shipping kits to targeted campuses. For the next six months, our focus remains on sales growth by expanding our campus presence and student ambassador network, with exciting campus collaborations lined up for the fall semester.
For the next 12 months, we’ll be expanding our clinical and laboratory coverage — providing our services nationally while growing our payor network. Meanwhile, we’ll keep expanding our campus initiatives and growing our community of users.
Anything else you’d like to share with readers?
PA: We are always looking for mission-driven student ambassadors. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you or someone you know might be interested!
Editor’s Note: Fitt Capital is an investor in Juna. We invest in health, fitness, and wellness companies. Learn more, and get in touch, here.
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