Introducing Zero, Powered By Ro

Zachariah Reitano
Sep 19, 2018 · 5 min read

Today, Ro took one step closer to bringing our vision to reality and we couldn’t be more excited to share it with you. We’re announcing our $88M Series A and the launch of our second vertical, Zero.

What is Zero?

Zero is an end-to-end service to fight addiction, starting with helping people quit smoking. It seamlessly integrates the most clinically effective treatments (a prescription, nicotine replacement therapy, behavioral app) to increase someone’s chances of quitting by almost 4x.

This product is something the team has burned the midnight oil to launch and, as I’m sure you can imagine, is very near and dear to our hearts.

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the world. In the U.S. alone, over 1300 people die every single day from smoking. That’s 10x greater than the number of deaths from guns, 40x the number of deaths from drunk driving, and just over 7x the number of deaths from opioids. Although well-known, these stats are no less powerful. But, they aren’t news, especially for people who smoke.

70% of people who smoke want to quit, over 50% try every single year, and only 3% of people are successful.

Simply put, people want to quit and they know how important it is, but saying it’s hard is a gross understatement.

Quitting smoking is like climbing a mountain. You can’t always see the end. It might take multiple attempts to get to the top. You’re never going to convince someone to do it if they don’t want to. And all of the hard work is on the person actually climbing.

The problem with quitting is that most people are trying to climb the mountain with flip flops and an empty water bottle.

So we did the research, brought in the world’s leading experts on addiction and tobacco, and set out to give Quitters everything they need to get to the top of the mountain.

Zero isn’t just a single product. It’s a combination of a prescription plus nicotine gum to help fight cravings. It’s an app to track your progress that is fully integrated to our custom EMR and pharmacy software. It’s 24/7 access to a doctor and a team of pharmacists.

It’s the Ro team working day and night, whether it’s your first climb or your hundredth, and we won’t stop until you’re at the top.

How did we get here?

It all started with our members. We started with ED because we were able to solve a present pain point for our members and build a bond with them that was founded on something that was indicative of their overall health. Knowing, that once we helped them with mattered most to them at that point in time, a weight would be lifted and they could focus on longer term health challenges.

And that’s exactly what happened.

Once our members received treatment, they could finally take a deep breath. Their inability to be intimate with their partner no longer dominated their day to day. And then something amazing happened, they wanted to get at the source. They wanted to understand the root cause.

So they asked their doctor on Ro.

This kept happening. Over and over again. We had thousands of members asking for our help on how to attack the root cause of their ED. As we dove in, we saw a pattern. Physicians on the platform would reach out to us constantly for our favorite resources or programs on smoking cessation. Finally, one member asked us if we could help him directly.

So the team asked ourselves what it would take to build the best online smoking cessation program in the country.

Why a new vertical? Why a new brand?

From Day 1, we knew this couldn’t only be available for men. If we were going to build the best online program to fight the leading cause of preventable death in the world, it wasn’t only going to be available for half the population.

We also knew we had to speak to this community in a very different way than we speak to our current members. Can you imagine that social media account? One tweet about erectile dysfunction and another about how to handle cravings.

Zero needed its own voice, it needed its own brand, and it needed to be built by people who smoked.

Zero needed to resonate with a community too often looked down on. People who smoke know how bad it is. They don’t need another ad telling them they’re going to die. No one is going to be successfully shamed into quitting an addiction. They need someone to meet them at eye level and just be there when they’re ready.

This is Zero.

What’s Ro? What’s next?

Zero and Roman are just the beginning.

At Ro, we’re working to reinvent the way you experience healthcare. When we first started, we dreamt of the experience we wanted to deliver and worked backwards. This meant rebuilding the infrastructure from scratch. We built our own physician EMR, our own pharmacy software, patient application, and even our own pharmacy fulfillment center, which now power both Roman and Zero.

We did this because we never wanted to be the company that told a member to “please call our pharmacy partner” when they had a health question. We wanted to be the company that takes on the complexity, so our members never have to. We wanted to not only offer the best experience in the present but innovate on the future.

We’re going to make the complicated, straightforward. The expensive, affordable. And the frustrating, delightful.

We’ll continue to follow our members.

We’re going to build healthcare experiences they never dreamt of, so they can get back to doing the things they can’t stop dreaming about.

If this sounds like a journey you want to be a part of, come say

The Ro team in NYC :)


We’re changing lives by changing healthcare.

Zachariah Reitano

Written by

Co-founder @GetRoman, formerly EIR @prehype, YC S14



We’re changing lives by changing healthcare.