Startups are battling to solve Americans’ back pain, but a former neurosurgeon thinks they don’t go far enough. See the pitch deck he used to raise $45 million for his answer to the problem.

Screen Shot 2021 05 04 at 11.31.07 AM
  • Vori, a musculoskeletal condition treatment startup, raised $45 million in Series A funding from NEA
  • CEO Ryan Grant said that physical therapy startups like Hinge Health are only part of a comprehensive treatment plan.
  • Vori is a fully functional medical practice, Grant said, and plans to eventually offer in-home care.

Startups that want to help Americans with their back and joint pain are some of the year’s hottest investments.

A former neurosurgeon-turned-entrepreneur thinks some of digital health’s skyrocketing companies aren’t going far enough when it comes to treatment.

Dr. Ryan Grant left his previous startup, a medical staffing company called Nomad Health, to found Vori in mid-2020. Vori offers patients a virtual medical practice, complete with physicians and nurses, during an eight-week course of treatment for musculoskeletal conditions. It partners with primary care doctors through referrals, similar to any other specialist.

On Friday, it raised $45 million in Series A funding at a valuation above $100 million, a source with knowledge of the deal told Insider. NEA led the round, and Vori’s seed investors AlleyCorp and Max Ventures participated. Grant told Insider that the funds will help fuel the company’s expansion into at least five new markets before the end of the year, as well as help him hire engineering and clinical staff.

Vori’s approach is a step further than other startups like Hinge Health or Sword Health, Grant said, because while it offers physical therapy for patients that need it, it also can prescribe medication and help patients find a surgeon if that ultimately is the best course of treatment for them. 

“The rise of physical therapy companies like Hinge is part of the continuum, but it’s an insufficient solution,” Grant said. 

Patients find their way to Vori via referrals from their primary care doctors. Vori will eventually apply for reimbursements through insurance companies, Grant said, and is currently paid by its network of doctors to be a part of its network. He said the company will also plan to sell to self-insured employers down the road.

Musculoskeletal care, broadly referred to as MSK, can include a wide variety of conditions from joint pain to sports injuries and chronic pain. Often, these conditions are treated with physical therapy, pain management, and eventually, surgery. Orthopedic surgeries are often costly and require weeks or months of recovery and rehabilitation.

As a healthcare provider, Vori takes on more risk than Hinge, Grant said, which allows them to also lower healthcare costs more effectively.

For example, Vori will not recommend a patient get imaging like an MRI if they are not interested in ultimately getting surgery, avoiding a costly procedure for both the patient and the insurance company. Instead, it will develop a treatment plan using alternative methods and non-opioid pain management that may take longer but ultimately cost less.

Grant gave the example of helping a patient experiencing back pain manage their weight as part of Vori’s holistic treatment strategy.

“It’s not a clean specialty in MSK,” Grant said. “If you’re helping them lose weight and that helps treat their back pain, are you a weight loss company or an MSK company?”

NEA general partner Mohamad Makhzoumi said he sees room for Vori, Hinge, and even more startups to peacefully coexist even as other areas of digital health eye consolidation. At $300 billion, the size of the musculoskeletal market dwarfs other industries that have multiple successful companies, like online grocery delivery or even digital advertising spending, Makhzoumi said. 

“MSK is one of the final frontiers that has yet to be addressed,” Makhzoumi told Insider. “There are a number of companies doing it, and we’re rooting for all of them.”

Here is the pitch deck that Grant used to raise $45 million in Series A funding in what Makhzoumi called the “most painless fundraise of all time.”

Vori is a virtual care startup that offers a “one-stop shop” for patients with conditions like back or knee pain, according to cofounder and CEO Ryan Grant.


Grant previously founded Nomad Health, a medical staffing startup, prior to Vori. He brought on a top clinician from the Mayo Clinic as his cofounder, as well as other senior leaders with experience building startups in highly regulated industries.


Grant is a former neurosurgeon who worked on patients with spinal conditions and said that many of his former colleagues’ surgeries were unnecessary. “It’s been a growing frustration for many years,” Grant said of the traditional treatment plan for these conditions.


Vori’s goal is to decrease the cost of care by eliminating unnecessary treatments and procedures like MRIs, Grant said. Given the prevalence of musculoskeletal conditions, even a small reduction in cost could have a major impact.


Vori created a single virtual care provider that combines all aspects of MSK treatment, Grant said. Eventually, it is open to building its own clinics and offering in-home care.


Currently, Vori can prescribe non-opioid pain medication, develop treatment plans, and refer patients to specialists like nutritionists as alternatives to the traditional surgical route.


That could include virtual physical therapy, Grant said, which many other startups offer. He said that he could see working with those startups in the future as partners and that the industry could progress faster without aggressive competition.


Vori’s app-based software also includes educational material for patients in addition to a social network element that Grant compared to fitness company Peloton.


Treatment for MSK conditions can include lifestyle changes, and Grant said having a community to hold patients accountable and cheer each other on could help them stick to a course of treatment and feel better longer.


Grant’s team has developed avatars for the social network that are less “cartoonish” than other apps’ renderings. “If you’re taking care of humanity, it should look like humanity,” Grant said of the app’s design features.


Vori currently operates in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Pennsylvania, with plans to expand to several states before the end of the year. It wants to create a comprehensive tool that can be used beyond MSK conditions, Grant said.