How Everlywell Created a National Infrastructure for At-Home COVID Testing in Under 2 Weeks

Just over 3 months ago, Julia Cheek, the CEO and co-founder of Everlywell, appeared as a guest on our My First Million podcast. At the time, the coronavirus had just begun to spread to the United States, and her company — a 5-year-old startup that provides at-home medical testing kits and lab results — had no plans to produce an at-home test to detect COVID-19. She even laughed the idea off as a little crazy: “If we did, I don’t think I would be here right now,” she joked.

But within days of that conversation, Cheek and her Austin-based team were busy attempting to create a test. By mid-May — following a furious stretch of testing, initial government approval, and an unexpected turnabout — they became the first digital health company to receive FDA emergency use authorization for an at-home COVID-19 test.

The thought that a small startup would play such an integral role in responding to a global pandemic seemed incredible: “If there was ever a situation where a 90-person company had to be part of the national response to a pandemic, then there’s something wrong,” Christina Song, a senior Everlywell official, told us in a recent interview.