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Finalist – Entrepreneur of 2024: Bitewell

Sam Citro-Alexander, co-founder and CEO & Chris Fanucchi, co-founder and chief growth officer, Bitewell, Denver

ColoradoBiz Staff //July 5, 2024//

Finalist – Entrepreneur of 2024: Bitewell

Sam Citro-Alexander, co-founder and CEO & Chris Fanucchi, co-founder and chief growth officer, Bitewell, Denver

ColoradoBiz Staff //July 5, 2024//

Sam Citro-Alexander’s own health spurred her toward the startup. “I have had a personal passion around food as medicine for a long time, because I have had some pretty terrible gut health issues, dietary restrictions, intolerances and allergies since I was 11,” says Citro-Alexander, 31. “In my early 20s, I was introduced to the concept of food as medicine, or really the idea that you can use food to heal these issues.”

She was working in the cosmetics industry in Los Angeles at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the industry’s lull led her to jump into entrepreneurialism with food industry veteran Fanucchi, 32, in 2020.

Bitewell’s “digital food farmacy” is its core offering. “Inside of the food farmacy, you can buy groceries, you can buy prepared meals, you can buy produce and protein boxes,” Citro-Alexander says. “We work with lots of great food vendors, and we can ship healthy foods to any zip code in the U.S.”

Health insurance plans “pay for your subscription,” she continues, “and then we negotiate with all of our food vendors and our plan partners to help subsidize the cost of healthy food for you, so everything that you buy from us inside the food pharmacy is anywhere from 5 to 40 percent below MSRP.”

It’s a win-win for members’ health and insurers’ bottom lines, Fanucchi says. “It’s no surprise to anybody that food is a major influence in positive or negative health outcomes for people, yet there’s no real connection between the food industry and the health-care industry, which blows my mind.”

The strategy of partnering with health plans has catalyzed big growth for the 20-employee company. “2024 is our second year of commercialization, and we are now serving millions of members,” says Citro-Alexander.

Adds Fanucchi: “I think we’re in the early innings of seeing how food can positively help health outcomes [and also] financially reduce the cost of care for the entire healthcare system, which is ultimately our goal and something that we really think we can accomplish.”