In this episode, we look at health care and travel startups. Who better to look at startups in these industries than Esther Dyson, an angel investor in a number of startups in these areas. This week, we look at Careflash, which has a post-money valuation of $2.9 million, and Yapta, which is estimated by Liquid Scenarios to have a pre-money valuation of $7 million. Careflash is a Web site where people can submit and share information, and offer well-wishes surrounding a loved one's health circumstances. As Esther called it, "It's like TheKnot around a disease event." TheKnot is a wedding registry site. Yapta is a travel concierge site, that wants "to make it easy for you to find the best flight at the right price."
We started with Careflash. Esther, who's invested in a somewhat similar site called PatientsLikeMe, said she likes Careflash because it provides tool for etiquette.
For me, I liked the idea since I'm currently receiving daily email threads with a couple hundred family members regarding my father's kidney transplant. If this dialogue were on Careflash, perhaps we would be able to find like-minded people sharing their stories about kidney transplants. As Esther said, these shared experiences make illnesses and enervating health conditions far "less scary."
Esther also pointed out that pharmaceutical companies – while being an ideal sponsor - may not be so easy to target as advertisers. Pharma is “terrified that their ad is going to appear next to something that says, 'Oh, I used such and such a drug and my temperature went up because then it’s a reportable event for the FDA,'” she said. What would make Esther invest in this company? You’ll have to watch to get that answer.
Also, in our Liquid Scenarios Minute, we do look at the exit scenarios for Careflash, which raised $900,000 for a post-money valuation of $2.9 million.
The real problem with travel isn't that information isn't automated and easily accessible, she said. Rather the real problems passengers face is getting bumped and not being able to make connections. The real problem with travel isn't that people don't get rebated for when they overpay. It's getting quality service for what they paid. Both Ezra and Esther suggest that Yapta do a deal with Clear, a site that helps people get through airport security faster. Now, that's a nice service solving a real problem.
All three of us agreed that the rebates Yapta is promising to customers is a good gimmick, but not necessarily a big enough incentive to get people to use the service. Finally, we do look at Yapta's exit prospects in the Liquid Scenarios Minute.
In the end, the three of us liked Careflash over Yapta. You'll have to watch for the reasons why.