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Co-founder Unity Stoakes talks to VatorNews about StartUp Health's mission to disrupt healthcare
As with any other tech space, especially one that is growing as fast as healthtech is, it's simply not enough for companies to just into existence and start disrupting the existing playing field. They need guidance, leadership and, most of all, resources.
That is where StartUp Health comes into play. The accelerator, which calls itself a "global entrepreneurship development company for Healthcare Transformers," had just added six more companies to its portfolio, it was announced on Tuesday.
These are the new companies that are now part of the StartUp Health family:
- AlemHealth - a provider of integrated telemedicine for developing countries, based in Dubai/
The company is "solving the pressing healthcare problems of access to quality diagnostic care and skyrocketing healthcare costs," StartUp wrote. "For patients in developing countries, AlemHealth is an integrated telemedicine solution that links hospitals to a global provider network, at a price patients can afford."
- Gritness - a search engine for group fitness, based in Austin
Gritness is described as "a search engine that empowers consumers and businesses to discover, create and engage with local group fitness options."
- Healarium - a provider of digital care plans to help patients follow daily regimens, based in Tel Aviv, Israel and Birmingham, Alabama.
The company is "transforming the way physicians prescribe care plans to patients for chronic conditions, pre-op and discharge services." It provides consumers with daily regimens for self-management. Over 25,000 patients have completed prescribed care plans on the Healarium platform.
- ClariFlow, from iDx Ventures, which helps detect BPH at home. The company is based in New York City.
ClariFlow is described as "an affordable, single-use home test to detect enlarged prostate issues like BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia), which impacts 50% of men over 50."
- Mouthwatch - which visually connects dental patients to better care; based in New York City
The company integrates digital imagery and communications technology in dentistry "bringing us one step closer to teledentistry through an innovative intraoral camera and communication platform."
- NuPlanit - which provides healing relationships with food through real-time support; based in Boston.
Used the "power of technology plus nutrition experts to provide a real-time behavior support platform for daily food decisions."
StartUp Health's mission
StartUp Health's mission is to take 1,000 companies, over the next decade or so, and "support a broad spectrum of innovation," co-founder Unity Stoakes told me in an interview.
"We don’t know where things are going, but we do know that the technology is changing and so are the business models," he said. "We want everyone to network together, cross pollinate their ideas, in a way that allows them to accelerate and grow more quickly. We are focused on collaboration and supporting entrepreneurs."
Unlike many other accelerators, which are short 12-week boot camps that end with a demo day, such a Blueprint Health and Healthbox, what separates StartUp Health is that it takes the long view on companies. The program actually lasts a total of three years, with a focus on customer development, capitalization, packaging and marketing, and leadership and team building.
This, Stoakes told me, creates a more unified atmosphere among the startups.
"We are working with these companies as a group, a collective force, so they can help each other," he said. Though StartUp health first launched in June of 2011 with classes, they quickly "learned it was much more valuable to all of the entrepreneurs to collaborate over time."
The now 90 startups in the program are "one family working together."
Though StartUp Health supports a broad spectrum of companies, Stoakes admitted that a theme emerged in the latest crop, with many of them having to do with home health care and telemedicine.
"These are things that are ultimately going to improve access to healthcare, make it easier for patient and providers to connect," he said. "This is going to be important trend over coming years, as healthcare moves out of the hospital and into the home."
So AlemHealth, for example, is making healthcare available in 10 of the most dangerous parts of the world, including Afghanistan and Iraq. ClariFlow is allowing for at-home prostate health monitoring, which, can be both expensive and embarrassing to do in front of another person. And Mouthwatch allows patients to do dental diagnostics from home, and to connect wirelessly with a dentist.
"This group is part of much bigger theme: the idea of creating an index to solve the biggest problems, rather than focusing on one or two themes," said Stoakes. "We can't tell you which solution is going to work with certainty, but the entire healthcare landscape is being disrupted by technology and entrepreneurs."
StartUp Health launched three and a half years ago in the Oval Office, right in front of President Barack Obama. That opportunity came about after pitching to Todd Park, the former CTO of the United States government, who was, at the time CTO of HHS, at South By Southwest.
They then presented at Health Datapalooza, and found themselves, pitching to the most powerful man in the world.
Since then StartUp Health has added 90 companies to its portfolio, which have raised a total of $190 million. It has also had three acquisitions: Basis Science by Intel in March 2014; Avado by WebMD in 2013; and Arpeggi by Gene by Gene in 2013.
"If you look at health reform, there are a treasure trove of opportunities for entrepreneurs, that have created disruption for business models and created opportunities for startups," said Stoakes. "We saw macro conditions converging at the same time, over the last 4 years, that have come together to create an epic decade of transformation."
The growing healthtech space
As I said earlier the healthtech space is growing very quickly,
Funding for health companies more than doubled year-to-year in 2014. By the second quarter of the year it had already surpassed the totals for 2013, and in the end rose 125% to a total of $4.1 billion. That is significantly higher than the 30% growth rate the space saw in 2013.
2014 was significant in another way as well: it saw average deal size grow for the first time in three years. After falling under $10 million in 2013, it ballooned 43% to $14 million in 2014. In all, almost 8% of all venture capital funding in the year ending with the third quarter of 2014 went into digital health, which is a new record, with 258 companies raising at least $2 million.
EDITOR'S NOTE: On February 12th, Vator will be holding its first ever Splash Health event in Oakland, where speakers such as Dr. Katrina Firlik, Tom Lee, Founder & CEO of One Medical, and Ryan Howard, Founder & CEO of Practice Fusion, will be talking about the state of the healthtech space, and where they think it is going (Get your tickets here).
(Image source: brandisty.com)
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