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April 19, 2021 / 2021 Tech 25

2021 Tech 25: Cloud 9 Online’s app provides healing through meditation

PHOTO | CONTRIBUTED A view of Cloud 9 Online’s meditation app.
At a Glance Company: Cloud 9 Online | Industry: Health care Top Executive: Delanea Davis, CEO & Founder HQ: 20 Church St., Hartford No. of Employees: 21 Company Website: Phone number: 860-268-9906 See all 2021 Tech 25 honorees
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The connection between meditation and health dates back centuries. But popular acceptance in this country has been slowed by doubts around “non-scientific” Eastern medical practices and images of New Age incense and crystals.

For the past six years, Cloud 9 Online has been working to gain a solid foothold for meditation within the often-byzantine system of American health care.

The Hartford startup’s concept is a white label personalized meditation therapy program delivered online. The programs are personalized, disease specific and prescribed by physicians.

Progress has come in fits and starts, CEO Delanea Davis explains. She’s a co-founder of Cloud 9, along with Henry Edinger, who serves as chief operation and strategy officer. Both come to the business from the insurance industry.

Cloud 9 Online went to market in 2015 with a patented app. Its Uhmi online platform offers a variety of free and fee-based programs directly to consumers. In 2017, it added a business-to-consumer app.

From the start, the commitment has been to expert sources, high-quality writing and studio-quality audio.

Davis points to a collaboration with Hartford HealthCare on clinical trials as a clear sign the firm is on the right path.

Delanea Davis

A year ago, Hartford HealthCare offered a free trial of Cloud 9 Online to its employees as part of the system’s employee assistance program. And employees embraced the meditation programs.

That’s the kind of model Cloud 9 has been shopping to other healthcare providers and Davis says she’s in the late stages of negotiation for deals that will move the firm toward profitability. Revenues were under $50,000 in 2020.

A significant breakthrough came this year when Cloud 9 Online was cleared to directly bill a client’s insurance carrier.

The library of topics has grown as Cloud 9 moved to serve various potential markets. Hartford HealthCare wanted to offer meditations specifically designed for those suffering from back pain or neck pain, neuropathy and migraines, for example. Another line of meditations was designed to help those fighting opioid addiction. And a line of meditations has been crafted for veterans battling PTSD.

Bright & Early Learning Centers has deployed Cloud 9 meditations for pupils at its five sites across Connecticut. The overall feel of the words and music is described as light, whimsical, childlike and positive. The goals are improving children’s attention spans and cognitive awareness.

Cloud 9 Online raised about $1 million in initial capital from “friends and family,” Davis said. Connecticut Innovations also was an early investor.

A staff of about 25 is on board and Davis hopes to grow that to 45 to 50 this year by bolstering the sales effort. The absence of marketing dollars has slowed growth, Davis said. The key to funding the expansion of the marketing effort is closing one of the pending enterprise deals.

The medical and economic case for meditation is its ability to reduce stress. According to Cloud 9’s website, stress is estimated to be the underlying cause of 80% of doctor visits.

Studies done at the University of Montreal and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center found that meditation was 25% more effective than drugs in reducing pain.

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