Keyto bags $2.5M to advance device-app combo for the ketogenic diet

Keyto raised a $2.5 million seed round to bring its personalized ketogenic diet program to market. The program includes a smart breath sensor that detects when the body is in ketosis and a mobile app that provides diet and lifestyle recommendations to keep users on track. 

The high-fat, low-carb “keto” diet relies on ketosis, a metabolic state in which the body burns fat for energy when it doesn’t have enough carbohydrates from food. It has grown popular in recent years as a weight-loss strategy, and is sometimes prescribed for children with epilepsy to prevent seizures. But it can be difficult to tell if the body is in ketosis. 

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“A rudimentary way to estimate if a person is approaching ketosis is to carefully track and measure food intake but this is to a large degree guess work,” said Gareth Everard, Keyto's head of marketing, in an email.

When the body enters nutritional ketosis, the liver makes ketones from fatty acids and releases them into the bloodstream. These can be detected as a good indication as to a person’s metabolic state, however traditional methods of doing so aren’t perfect.  They include "urine strips, which are messy and inaccurate or blood tests, which are painful and expensive,” Everard said.

And that’s where Keyto comes in. Its sensor detects acetone, a byproduct ketone production, in the breath. Users breathe into the device, which sends the result to the mobile app, where it is displayed as a “Keyto Level.”

In addition to quantifying a user’s ketosis, the app also offers personalized meal plans and lifestyle reminders, as well as educational material and access to a social community. The portability of the breath sensor means that users may use it on the go and get results in real time, unlike with urine or blood tests. 

The seed funding will support R&D for Keyto’s gas nanosensor and expand the company’s manufacturing capabilities. The company is offering the program on Indiegogo, where it is available for preorder at $99. It will start shipping the breath sensor to customers in January. 

"The ketogenic diet is a sensation right now, as the most-searched-for diet on Google,” Everard said. “We are expecting overwhelming demand so decided to launching on Indiegogo, to the world’s best marketplace for early adopters, to both help us manage the delivery process as well as give ketogenic diet enthusiasts early access to our game-changing product at an outstanding price ahead of a full commercial launch in January.”

Editor's note: This story has been updated to correctly attribute the quotes to Gareth Everard.