Not an Incubator. Not an Accelerator. An ‘Academy.’ Startup Health Announces Inaugural Class


Healthcare startups have a rough go of it. They don’t generate the buzz and excitement of a new private photo-sharing app or a virtual pinboard for moms, and they’re taking on one of the most tangled, frustrating, illogical industries around. The premise of Startup Health is to support healthcare companies by putting them in a class with their peers and then providing them with resources and advice as needed.

Right now, Startup Health’s mentoring program, or “academy,” has no campus and no roster of splashy name mentors. But ideally, the program will encourage innovation and growth and give the entrepreneurs moral support. 

Startup Health is building a campus in New York City, but the ten companies in the program starting March 26 will be phoning it in for a while. “The peer-groups meet once per month as a group virtually and then in person once per quarter in NYC for a in depth workshop and customer and investor demo days,” cofounder Unity Stoakes said in an email. “This is not an Accelerator or Incubator model where people move somewhere for 12 weeks to launch an idea.  We are helping support the business through years of growth (which is required in Health Care).”

Startup Health just announced its first class of companies yesterday. According to a press release, they’re all “highly accomplished and are operating companies at various stages of the growth lifecycle” and all have received funding or are generating revenue. They are evenly split between the East and West Coasts. Startup Health plans to run four such classes throughout the year.

Mr. Stoakes believes New York is becoming a health tech hub. “With BluePrint Health and Health 2.0 now in the city too there is significant collaboration and momentum going on. Many companies that we once based in Boston or West Coast are coming to NYC now,” he said. (Health 2.0, based in San Francisco, just opened a New York office.) He also noted that the Bloomberg administration has been very supportive of healthcare tech companies. “All these forces are working together and at the same time,” he said. “We are working hard to bring the entire ecosystem together so we can innovate faster.”

The companies, which were chosen from 400 applicants:

  • 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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.

More in-depth bios of the founders are here.

Not an Incubator. Not an Accelerator. An ‘Academy.’ Startup Health Announces Inaugural Class