Carrot’s pivot platform helps people quit smoking by combining behavioral science and technology

Interview with Steven Loeb and Bambi Francisco David Utley, CEO of Carrot, a digital health company that helps people quit smoking. Called Pivot, the platform takes a multi-faceted approach to getting people to quit smoking and includes mobile technology, behavioral science and clinical expertise.

Carrot was founded in 2015 and has $ 30.8 million in funding from investors such as JJDC, New York Life Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Marc Benioff, and R7 partners.

For these digital health podcasts, our goal is to understand these three overarching questions as well: How do we empower consumers? Are we creating a productivity that also enables us to reduce overall economic costs? How is this advancement changing the role of the doctor?

Highlights from the interview:

  • Utley was an academic head and neck surgeon at Stanford where he was responsible for all tumors in Northern California, most of which were caused by tobacco use. He left in 2003 to start a cancer therapeutics company and then founded Carrot to address the tobacco-related problem, which includes premature death, illness, enormous cost and suffering, with a scalable, mobile solution.
  • Carrot began in 2015 with the premise of developing a medical device like a FitBit or a blood glucose meter that was connected via Bluetooth and could measure a biomarker in the bloodstream or breath for tobacco use. Since then, the company has launched a full program that includes a user-centric app that gives users access to a coach, nicotine replacement therapy, and a HIPAA compliment community.
  • 1.4 billion people smoke worldwide. The number of smokers is increasing worldwide, and while it is falling in the US due to increased interest in wellness, there are still 34 million smokers in the US, more than the number of people with type 2 diabetes.
  • The company sells to large self-insured employers like Target and also to health insurers like Blue Cross of North Carolina. If the program is offered for free, they will join because even if they don’t want to quit, it has something for them. Only 30% who join are ready to quit in the next month, but there is an equal success rate for those who want to quit and who don’t.
  • An employee who uses tobacco costs that employer $ 7,000-10,000 more annually due to lower productivity and higher health claims. So there is a strong financial story to tell potential buyers: If 10% of their tobacco users stop smoking, it will be a huge cut in costs.
  • Carrot measures success as someone who hasn’t smoked for 30 days. Approximately 35% of users stop completely after seven months, compared to 1% who stop cold turkey and 5% who stop drug-assisted weaning.
  • During the COVID pandemic, the number of smokers rose, cigarette sales rose, and the number of people pursuing formal tobacco cessation programs fell by 27%. While COVID killed 3.9 million people in 2020, 10.5 million people died from tobacco use.

This podcast is sponsored by BetterHelp and VatorNews listeners get a 10% discount for the first month at This podcast is also provided by Octave, your mental health and emotional wellbeing partner. Learn more at Also thanks to NeuroFlow, which works with hundreds of health organizations to provide world-class technology and services for the effective integration of behavioral health.

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