Kara Swisher

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SXSW News: Jerry Levin’s StartUp Health Academy for Entrepreneurs Announces First Class

In an interesting twist on the accelerator and incubator model for entrepreneurs, StartUp Health Academy announced its first class of “healthcare transformers” today at SXSW in Austin.

StartUp Health, which is chaired by former Time Warner CEO Jerry Levin and is backed by AT&T and the California HealthCare Foundation, is backing 10 entrepreneurs who are focused on “fixing a broken healthcare system in ways that significantly reduce costs and dramatically improve care.”

Unlike programs that support start-ups, some of these companies are well on their way in terms of funding and staff. What has been missing, according to StartUp Health, are the other support functions aimed specifically at companies in the still-nascent digital health care field.

Most of all, it’s a nice break from similar groups that back companies designing apps to help people stalk each other at SXSW bars.

Here’s the press release about the 10 that were picked, who were selected from nearly 400 applications and will be part of a three-year curriculum:

StartUp Health Announces Its Inaugural Class Celebrating “Healthcare Transformers”

AT&T and the California HealthCare Foundation Provide Scholarships to the First Class of the Academy for Health and Wellness Entrepreneurship

Austin, TX — SXSW — Monday, March 12, 2012 –Today StartUp Health announced the ten “Healthcare Transformers” that will make up the inaugural class of the StartUp Health Academy for Health and Wellness Entrepreneurship. These extraordinary and passionate entrepreneurs and innovators are on a mission to solve one of the great challenges of our time: fixing a broken healthcare system in ways that significantly reduce costs and dramatically improve care. StartUp Health also announced that both AT&T and the California HealthCare Foundation will be generously providing full-tuition scholarships for the first class of Healthcare Transformers accepted into the program.

“StartUp Health represents a new model for helping innovation succeed in the health sector and is based on a simple premise,” said Jerry Levin, Chairman of StartUp Health. “The best way to transform healthcare is to support and promote entrepreneurs with ongoing inspiration, education, and access to customers, capital, and other critical resources so that innovation and growth can occur more quickly.”

“StartUp Health Academy is the first program of its kind and is based on our unique methodology and platform for supporting Healthcare Transformers,” said Steven Krein, co-founder and CEO of StartUp Health. “The Academy is structured as a 3-year curriculum with strategic thinking tools and collaborative peer groups designed to help innovators navigate the many challenges of building a sustainable growth business in the health sector. We believe there is great power in these networks and in the access we provide to the community of customers, investors, and partners we have organized to transform healthcare.”

The first class of Healthcare Transformers in StartUp Health Academy are all highly accomplished and are operating companies at various stages of the growth lifecycle. All of them have already received funding or financial backing for their venture via venture capital, angel investors, grants, or customer revenue. Five of the class are serial entrepreneurs, two are healthcare professionals, and half are located on the East Coast and half on the West Coast.

The group includes:

Sundeep Bhan is a serial entrepreneur on a mission to revolutionize the way physicians and patients leverage lab testing to make better decisions leading to improved health. Sundeep is CEO of Medivo (medivo.com), which he co-founded with Jason Bhan, MD, and Destry Sulkes, MD, and is headquartered in New York City. The company recently raised $7 Million in a Series A from Safeguard Scientifics. Sundeep’s previous company Medsite was acquired by WebMD in 2006.

Veer Gidwaney is a serial entrepreneur on a mission to improve people’s health through daily behavior change. Veer is CEO of DailyFeats (dailyfeats.com), which he co-founded along with Morley Ivers, President & COO, and Vinay Gidwaney, Chief Product Officer, and is headquartered in New York City and Cambridge, MA. DailyFeats is profitable and growing rapidly with numerous partners including Walgreens and Cigna. Veer’s previous company Control-F1 was acquired by Computer Associates in 2005.

Samer Hamadeh is a serial entrepreneur on a mission to make it easier for people to find and book appointments with alternative healthcare and wellness practitioners ranging from acupuncturists and chiropractors to massage therapists, physical therapists, and personal trainers. Samer is the Founder and CEO of Zeel Networks (zeel.com), headquartered in New York City. Zeel has raised over $1.5 million in seed funding from angel investors including Esther Dyson, Ravi Mhatre, Tim Kendall, and Matt Ocko. Samer was recently EIR at Lightspeed Venture Partners. Samer’s last venture, career site Vault.com, was acquired by private equity firm Veronis Suhler Stevenson in 2007.

Nadeem Kassam is a serial entrepreneur on a mission to reinvent how people track and manage their health. Nadeem is the Founder and Chief Alliance Officer at Basis (mybasis.com), which he manages with Jef Holove as the CEO, and is headquartered in San Fransisco. The company has raised $9 Million in a Series A from Norwest Venture Partners & DCM. Jef was previously CEO at wireless photo card maker Eye-fi and spent almost a decade at Logitech.

Hesky Kutscher is a serial entrepreneur on a mission to revolutionize and simplify the way families manage their children’s health. Hesky is Founder and CEO of MotherKnows (motherknows.com), headquartered in Palo Alto, CA. MotherKnows has raised $1.7 Million in a Series A from First Round Capital, Charles River Ventures, Giza Ventures, and Band of Angels. Hesky’s previous company Shoplocal was acquired by Tribune and Gannett in 2004. Hesky is also Chairman and founder of High Gear Media, a leading automotive content network.

Bill Scott is a Board Certified Neurotherapist on a mission to revolutionize therapeutic treatment options by giving clinicians the ability to easily and cost-effectively use neurofeedback to help patients train their brains to be more adaptive and healthy. Bill is CEO of BrainPaint (brainpaint.com), which he co-founded with Cora Scott, President, and is headquartered in Malibu, CA. BrainPaint is profitable and growing rapidly with over a 125 customers including Promises treatment centers and hospitals in 35 states and 7 countries.

Bronwyn Spira is a physical therapist on a mission to deliver mobile applications for physical therapists that transform the delivery of care. Bronwyn is co-founder and President of FORCE Therapeutics (forcetherex.com), which she founded with her husband Mark Lieberman, a serial entrepreneur and technology executive, and is headquartered in New York City. FORCE Therapeutics has raised seed funding from prominent CEO investors including Thomas Layton, John Pleasants, Joseph Varet, and Randall Winn.

David Wong, MD, PhD, is a dermatologist on a mission to make it easy and affordable for anyone to get online access to board-certified dermatologists and get immediate assistance in the diagnosis and management of skin diseases. David is CEO of Direct Dermatology (directdermatology.com), which he co-founded with Rajnish Gupta, MD, PhD, and is headquartered in Palo Alto, CA. Direct Dermatology has received funding from California HealthCare Foundation and angel investors.

Faheem Zaman is a young entrepreneur who recently left Harvard University to become one of the first Thiel Fellows and pursue his dream of rethinking healthcare by leveraging technology, data, and elegant design to make quality care more accessible. Faheem is founder of a “stealth mobile health company,” which he co-founded with Ilya Vakhutinsky, and is headquartered in New York City. Ilya brings expertise in contextual design and data visualization from his work at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. Faheem is a recipient of $100,000 from Peter Thiel and the Thiel Foundation’s “20 Under 20″ Thiel Fellowship program.

George Zamanakos, PhD, is an entrepreneur on a mission to make it easier and more affordable for pregnant women to get remote care from anywhere in the world. He is heading up a “stealth mode” initiative backed by some of the biggest visionaries in the ecosystem, and is headquartered in San Diego, CA. George has a PhD in Physics from Caltech, was an associate principal at McKinsey, and previously worked with Johnson & Johnson’s leading strategy and product development in diabetes.

The inaugural group of ten entrepreneurs represents the first of at least four classes StartUp Health will launch in 2012 and marks the beginning of its decade-long mission to help inspire, educate, and provide resources to 1,000 Healthcare Transformers as they build world-class growth companies. The entrepreneurs were selected from nearly 400 applications. The StartUp Health Academy operates on a “rolling admissions” basis and all entrepreneurs who have already applied will also be considered for subsequent classes.

“These entrepreneurs, along with their co-founders, represent a diverse group of Healthcare Transformers focusing on solutions ranging from mobile and digital health services to new diagnostic technologies and devices that will dramatically improve health and wellness and lower the cost of care,” said Unity Stoakes, co-founder and President of StartUp Health. “This group has visionary dreams and are already busy making them come true and pushing the entire ecosystem forward in the process.”

“The California HealthCare Foundation is excited to support StartUp Health on their mission to help Health Transformers grow and innovate more quickly so together we can spark innovations that can reduce the costs of healthcare and expand access to services for the underserved,” said Margaret Laws, Director of the Innovations for the Underserved Program at the California HealthCare Foundation.

“Innovation and collaboration are critical to drive changes in healthcare, and we’re pleased to support this amazing class of healthcare entrepreneurs in the StartUp Health Academy,” said Eleanor Chye, Executive Director, Mobility Healthcare and Pharma, Mobility Product Management, AT&T Business and Home Solutions. “We’re committed to helping the health and wellness ecosystem grow and support new ways that mobile technologies and smart networks can be used to improve the quality of care, reduce costs, and contribute to a healthier world.”

Anyone who wants to support the movement to help innovate in health and wellness can get involved or apply for a future class at startuphealth.com.


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