Healthcare needs an overhaul and four Kansas City-area companies are among those poised to disrupt the industry as part of the first Launch Health Accelerator cohort, explained Jeremy Tasset.
“Through the health accelerator, we were seeking companies with fresh ideas that give rise to improving care and lowering costs that can be readily integrated into existing clinical workflows,” said Tasset, CEO of Nueterra Capital — the Leawood-based firm which partnered with LaunchKC to develop the accelerator.
Click here to read more about LaunchKC’s commitment to developing industry-specific accelerators in Kansas City.
In total, six startups were chosen for the inaugural, 75-day cohort, LaunchKC announced Wednesday. Four of them — including three from Kansas City — are led by women.
The cohort includes: Healium by StoryUP, Columbia, Missouri; medZERO, Kansas City; Sickweather, Kansas City; Spoke Health, Denver, Colorado; TheraWe Connect, Kansas City; and WellBrain, San Francisco. The startups began the accelerator Tuesday and each will receive equity awards upon completion of the program, which concludes with a demo day in November.
“These outstanding companies were selected from nearly 200 applications received from all over the world,” said Don Peterson, exiting-founder of IVXpress Inc. and entrepreneur-in-residence for the Launch Health accelerator.
Click here to learn more about Peterson’s role in developing the program.
“Choosing the best six applications was incredibly difficult due mainly to the amazing quality of so many of the entrepreneurs,” he said. “Meritocracy won the day.”
Launch Health is the fifth organization to elevate woman-owned Healium in as many months, noted Sarah Hill, founder and CEO, referencing milestone achievements with such companies as Facebook and Apple.
“We’re proud to help cultivate female leadership in the app development community,” Hill said of the company after it was accepted into an Apple cohort over the summer.
Click here to read about Helium’s journey to Cupertino.
With more than half of the startups selected for the program hailing from the Kansas City-region, the cohort could signal significant traction for healthtech companies in the metro, suggested Drew Solomon.
“We are excited about the potential of this cohort, as well as the continued growth of the LaunchKC program with our partners at Nueterra Capital,” said Solomon, competition chair of LaunchKC and senior vice president at the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City, Missouri. “We have strived for the last five years to push Kansas City’s capacity for supporting emerging companies and technology.”
LaunchKC now powers three accelerators — focusing on fintech, cleantech and health — with a vision to ultimately work with corporate partners on eight to 10 programs in the Kansas City region, he said.
Startland checked in with the cohort’s local founders and executives as they began the program and explored how the Launch Health accelerator could push their Kansas City companies to the next level.
- Founding year: 2017
- Founders names: Kaitlin Doyle, Maria Butz, Kirby Montgomery, Kevin Montanez, Travis Meyers
- Number of employees: Six
- Funding raised to date: $150,000
- Programs completed: None
- Notable Accomplishments: Pure Pitch Rally Winner, 2018; Digital Sandbox Awardee, 2019
- Empowered to grow, the Launch Health Accelerator could be the kind of rhythm TheraWe Connect has been looking for.
“Joining this program will allow us to accelerate our business growth and learn how to reach more pediatric therapy organizations,” explained Kaitlin Doyle, CEO.
A HIPAA-compliant platform that bridges gaps between therapy centers and homes, TheraWe Connect aims to reduce stress for families during pediatric therapy journeys by providing two-way messaging and video sharing in an effort to improve communication between therapy providers and parents.
Click here to learn more about TheraWe Connect.
“We are so excited to join this cohort of startups within our community,” Doyle said, looking forward to the possibility of leaning on the program’s expertise as the company strives to impact homes across the country.
- Founding year: 2011
- Founders: Graham Dodge, Michael Belt, James Sajor
- Funding raised to date: $2.5 million
- Programs completed: Sprint Accelerator, (inaugural) class of 2014, LaunchKC
- Notable accomplishments: Investments from Brad Feld, Sprint, Techstars, Missouri Technology Corporation and Firebrand Ventures.
It’s a new era for one of Kansas City’s legacy startups, Sickweather, Laurel Edelman said.
“I’m excited about the Launch Health Accelerator — especially as I have just stepped into the role of CEO,” Edelman said in reflection of her recent promotion from chief revenue officer.
Click here to read about the exit of Graham Dodge, founder and former CEO.
Having joined the company in 2018, Edelman’s financial focus won’t shift as she steps into the company’s premiere leadership role and the Launch Health Accelerator will help her maintain such a vision, she explained.
“Knowing that we have a strong returning customer base and that Sickweather’s engagements with new customers and new verticals is expanding, my role now is quite clear — it is to build on the framework we’ve established,” Edelman said of the task ahead of her.
Access to mentors, experienced entrepreneurs, icons of the healthtech space, IP advice and tech support are but a few of the benefits to joining the program at such a pivotal time for Sickweather, she added.
“[The experience] promises to be stunningly educational for me. … It will springboard our growth as we execute a laser focus on revenue development while managing operational expenditures,” she said.
A doppler radar for illness, Sickweather knows where sick people are clustered. Boasting a patented social listening technology that detects illness trends in real-time at a hyper local level, in more than 120 countries, Sickweather data is modeled into 15-week forecasts and a threat level index called the SickScore.
Healium by StoryUP Studios
- Founding year: 2015
- Founders names: Sarah Hill, Dr. Jeff Tarrant, Ricky Rockley
- Number of employees: four
- Funding raised to date: $610,000
- Previous programs completed: Apple Entrepreneur Cohort, DOD Innovator Cohort, Women in XR Fund Cohort, Pitch Perfect and ScaleUp at the Enterprise Center in Johnson County
- Notable accomplishments: Invited to attend the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in the Netherlands; winner of pitch competitions at CES and SXSW — where the company placed first in XR; a Webby nomination for best use of augmented reality; and a licensing deal that brought Healium aboard more than 20 airlines.
Healium by StoryUP is ready for its next adventure in what’s been a whirlwind of momentum for the Columbia-based startup, Sarah Hill said.
Having spent much of the year focused on funding and brand exposure for Healium — the first product from StoryUP Studios and the world’s first augmented and virtual reality platform powered by wearables via a brain-computer interface or a user’s smartwatch — Launch Health will enable the startup to double down on growth.
Click here to read more about Healium’s journey, born out of Hill’s experience as a TV journalist.
“We’re grateful for the opportunity to learn and grow our biometrically-controlled spatial computing technology into new markets,” she said of the company’s involvement in the 72-day cohort.
“Powering immersive media with data from your wearables is uncharted territory,” Hill said. “So to have this program’s expertise to navigate new regulatory, product, data, and sales landscapes is incredibly valuable to us.”
Wendy Moore, business development strategist at StoryUP Studios, will share Healium’s story with guests at Startand’s Innovation Exchange: Investing in the Power of Women Sept. 19.
Click here to buy tickets to the event made possible by support from Full Scale.
- Founding year: 2015
- Founders names: Michael Sobek
- Number of employees: eight
- Funding raised to date: $2 million+
Adding value is at the core of medZERO’s mission, explained Howard Michalski.
“We’re super excited to be here. … We financed consumer healthcare payments, so being part of a public-private sort of incubator or accelerator — to us — has a lot more meaning than just … a venture capitalist backed [program],” Michalski, COO, added.
Click here to explore how the medZERO platform works.
Born out of universal need, medZERO tackles the rising cost of healthcare and financial risk placed upon employees, through a voluntary benefit program which offers employees instant access to funds — up to $5,000 — for out-of-pocket medical expenses and provides them with zero-interest, 12-month installment plan, he explained.
“With the kind of product that we have, it’s really important to be close — not just to local businesses — but to be close to legislative people, so we can really connect-the-dots across the different constituents, whether it be government, investors or other healthcare providers.”
Through Launch Health, Michalski is confident the company can achieve such a goal, he said.
“We’re looking to find our initial, go-live production customers and certainly capital investment … we’re really excited to leverage the network of partners and investors to really establish a foothold with our initial customers,” he said.
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.