Author Archive

Rock Weekly: Why tech companies are flocking to healthcare

| December 15, 2014|Tags:


In the last decade, healthcare innovation has gone from “the entrepreneurial equivalent of Siberia” to…well, Silicon Valley. As healthcare finds new entrants from tech, consumers expect them to be closely watched over by the government. Surgeons on the other hand, perhaps they should be self-regulating.

Speaking of entrepreneurs from tech, today we are excited to announce the launch of Hi.Q, led by Rock Health entrepreneur and founder Munjal Shah. Download Health IQ.

Last Minute Digital Health Gift Guide

| December 15, 2014

The holidays are upon us! While you scramble to find a perfect gift for that digital health geek (or yourself), we hope you find this list helpful.  

BitGym $7.99

With the cold season on your doorstep, outdoor runs get moved inside. BitGym keeps the motivation going by bringing the scenery to your cardio machine, and runs on any smartphone or tablet. Lucky you! BitGym is giving all our readers a free month of premium access with the code ROCKHOLIDAY.

BeamBrush $29

Bring the party to the daily routine and snag the first connected tooth brush, Beam Brush. With built-in Bluetooth and gamified challenges, you’ll always be in the know about your kids (and your own) brushing habits.


Liftware $295

If someone you know lives with Parkinson’s or Essential Tremor, you probably know how difficult using utensils can be. Lift Labs gives back the gift of eating by making super portable and easy to use stabilization tools for people living with tremor. To spread the holiday cheer, Lift Labs is extending their buy one, give one program—just use the code GIVETUES.

Healthcare conferences still a sad place for diversity

| December 02, 2014

A snapshot of the Cleveland Clinic Innovation Summit, October 29th, 2014, where only 20% of speakers were female

Last year, Rock Health took the first look at gender diversity on the stages of a dozen high-profile healthcare conferences. We knew from experience that women were largely confined to the attendee list at these events, and we were appalled when our research  confirmed that only a quarter of speakers in 2013 were women.

We launched the XX Speaker Project as part of our larger XX in Health initiative to promote and support female leaders in healthcare. Opening up a dialogue about this imbalance, our goal was to make tangible changes and improve the numbers in 2014.

First, we called it out. Making these numbers transparent helps conference organizers, attendees, and the public at large realize there’s a problem. (You can view the data here).

The 10 Most Beloved CEOs in Digital Health

| October 22, 2014


It’s no secret that a company’s vision and culture stem from the top. Without the right leader at the helm, even the best ideas fail to gain traction. Sometimes this leadership takes the form of a benevolent chieftain (Richard Branson); and other times s/he is a ruthless perfectionist (Steve Jobs).

So with the deluge of growing digital health companies, we wanted to know which CEOs had the most respect from their teams. According to Glassdoor, an online jobs and careers community where employees rate CEOs, Evolent Health’s Frank Williams took first place with a 98% approval rate, followed by Castlight’s Giovanni Colella (95%) and Fitbit’s James Park (94%).

The distinguishing characteristic apparent in employee testimonials is that good CEOs hire well: nearly all the positive testimonials pointed to smart, supportive co-workers as a “pro” (followed only by ping pong tables).

Kickstarter finally ends long-time ban on health campaigns

| June 05, 2014|Tags: , ,

Photo by Thomas HawkPhoto by Thomas Hawk

Kickstarter recently announced an end to their long-time ban on health and medical products. As the largest crowdfunding platform, with $1B in pledges since it launched in 2009, Kickstarter originally opted out of the digital health space to focus on creative campaigns such as design, art, and film. (Check out this spreadsheet that details funding amounts raised on both Indiegogo and Kickstarter by category).

Indiegogo has since emerged as the de facto platform for digital health crowdfunding, with $7.8M in funded projects in 2013, and $2.1M raised thus far in 2014.  They’re known as the open platform, which means there is minimal (or no) formal vetting of campaigns and a higher percentage of campaign failures. In fact, the majority of healthcare campaigns on Indiegogo fail to raise their goal.

Digital health crowdfunding campaigns in 2013


Meet the sixth group of Rock Health companies

| May 19, 2014|Tags:

It is with much excitement and pride that we present seven of the newest Rock Health startups, who are part of a portfolio of nearly 50 active companies tackling some of the most significant problems in healthcare. Over the past five months, they have received funding and support from Rock Health and will continue to receive support throughout their lifespan. This diverse group of companies ranges from an analytics tool for the ICU to an impeccably designed dentist office on wheels.


Omada Health seals a $23M Series B to bring digital therapeutics to diabetics

| April 09, 2014|Tags:

The Rock Health team is proud to announce that portfolio company Omada Health has just closed their $23M Series B (full press release here) from Andreessen Horowitz and Kaiser Permanente Ventures.

I first met with the Omada co-founders three years ago when they were still employees at IDEO. We chatted over lunch at South Park Cafe, and they quickly won me over with their vision for a software-based therapy to prevent diabetes more effectively and for less money than a drug. We offered them a $20,000 grant to quit their jobs and join us at Rock Health’s first class.

The Omada Health co-founders, Adrian James, Sean Duffy, and Andrew DiMichele, at the original Rock Health office

Rock Health entrepreneur breakdown: female founders

| March 25, 2014

I thought it would be a good time to look into (and publish) data on entrepreneur demographics at Rock Health. The data is interesting. I’ll spread this over a few posts, today’s post will focus on gender.

Looking at the active Rock Health startups, 30% of our portfolio companies have a female founder.

My initial thought was “we need to do better,” so I decided to also look at the application data to get an idea of the supply with which we’re working. In 2013, to my surprise, exactly 30% of the companies that applied to Rock Health had at least one female founder. 19% had a mix of male and female founders, 11% were all female founders, and 70% were all male founders.

All applicants are treated equally when applying to Rock Health. We look at the experience and capabilities of the founding team, along with the sustainability and scalability of the business. We’d love to see more diverse applicants, and have invested quite a bit into supporting women in particular (via our XX in Health initiative).

I think one of the best ways to encourage more women to join us at Rock Health is to show off the amazing female founders we currently support. So without further ado, here are the incredibly bright, inspiring, and hard-working women leading the digital health revolution:

SXSW 2014: The Top Events for Health Geeks

| February 28, 2014|Tags: , ,

sxsw night

We’re headed to Austin, and it’s going to get weird! This is Rock Health’s fifth consecutive year at the behemoth tech conference, and we’re amazed at the growth of the healthcare presence.  We take the four-day conference seriously, and want to share with you our top picks for this year’s event.

Badge Required:

Make It Rain: The New Healthcare Funding Landscape

Friday, March 7th, 2014
5:00 – 6:00 p.m.
Hilton Austin Downtown, Salon G
I’m on this panel, so you betterbethere!

Body Computing: The Future of Networked Humans

Saturday, March 8th, 2014
9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
Hilton Austin Downtown, Salon H
If you’re an early bird, you won’t want to miss USC’s Chief of Cardiovascular Medicine  Leslie Saxon’s session. She heads up the Center for Body Computing, an interdisciplinary brain trust that believes technology is the solution to healthcare problems.

2013 Digital Health Funding Report

| January 06, 2014|Tags: ,

As we ring in the New Year, we are proud to publish our third comprehensive year-end report on funding in digital health.

Since we published our first report in 2011, digital health funding has more than doubled. In addition to detailing the state of venture funding (the entrepreneurs, the investors, the trends), this latest report also highlights crowdfunding trends and public markets.

More growth in 2013

In 2013, digital health funding smashed records — exceeding $1.9B with 195 venture deals ($2M+). Funding was up 39% from 2012 and 119% compared to 2011. In 2014,  the digital health industry is set to surpass total medical device venture funding.


The major themes of 2013 comprise nearly 50% of all funding for the entire year

Six themes emerged in 2013, representing nearly 50% of all funding. The largest theme continues to be electronic health records and their surrounding applications.


Entrepreneurs continue to find their way to California and the Bay Area to build their digital health companies

In 2013, California continued to dominate as  homebase for funded startups, with over a third of all deals taking place in the golden state.  Massachusetts (19) and New York (10) followed.


# deals in 2013















Serial investors tripled from 2012

While we continued to see investors “dabbling” in digital health (just 1 deal), the amount of “serial investors” (3+ deals) tripled from 2012 to 2013.   While the past was indicative of a learning phase, we’re now seeing more firms define and execute a strategy for investing in digital health. 32% of the digital health dabblers from 2012 invested again in 2013, with eight joining the ranks of serial investors.

The six most active investors of the year are a mixed bunch — three are primarily tech VCs, two are corporate VCs, and one is a life science / healthcare VCs.

Tech investors: Social+Capital Partnership (7), Norwest Venture Partners (6 deals),  Khosla Ventures (4)
Corporate VCs: Qualcomm (4), Merck (4)
Life Science / Healthcare: Cardinal Partners (4)

Dive into the full report here.