‘startups’ Category

The best way to build a digital health company

| October 20, 2014|Tags:

Alejandro Foung, Co-founder and CEO, Lantern

Last week our team launched Lantern, an online and mobile tool that evaluates your mental health in minutes. Personally, this moment was one of great pride for what our team has been working on for over a year—but also one of anxiety and worry.  (Luckily, we now have an app for that). Will people actually buy our product?  Will anyone even notice?  If people buy it, will they continue to use it?

Founders in any industry ask themselves these questions every day, so these aren’t novel feelings.  But running a startup in healthcare adds an additional layer that’s even more important than the fundamentals of your business and market opportunity: will user health actually improve? And will it be significant enough to publish results (i.e. through a randomized controlled trial)? I believe most digital health companies fail to get off the ground trying to answer this. It’s much easier to get someone to buy something than it is to get them to buy something AND also prove to the scientific community that your product is effective.

Introducing the latest Rock Health additions

| August 18, 2014|Tags:

With much pride and delight, today we’re announcing the newest Rock Health portfolio companies that are using technology to tackle broad and pressing issues in healthcare. We’ve also brought on three new corporate partners to provide key strategic support to our startups and Rock Health’s operations.

These latest companies are tackling broad areas of healthcare, including issues in biotechnology, chronic disease, and healthcare regulation. We are thrilled by not only the sheer number of entrepreneurs building digital health companies, but also the incredible diversity of ideas.  With these additions, we have a diverse and active portfolio of 55 digital health companies across the country.

Without further ado, meet the latest Rock Health companies:

Uber for your teeth: A founder’s story

| July 10, 2014|Tags: ,

studio dental truck

We stepped into our portfolio company, Studio Dental’s brand new office-in-a-truck parked outside Rock Health HQ to catch co-founder and dentist Sara Creighton between patient visits. Here’s what she had to say about her path from dentist to entrepreneur, the role of design in healthcare, and advice for those who are thinking of taking the ultimate plunge into entrepreneurship. Full disclosure: Sara cleaned my teeth in the Studio Dental truck. I emerged with a gigantic smile—and not because of my new pearly whites.

Firstly, we’re so excited about what you’re doing. Can you tell everyone what Studio Dental is?
Studio Dental is the first dental office on wheels that will visit you at work. We prioritize service, design, and expertise to deliver an unmatched dental experience.

What inspired you to build the first mobile dentist office? What about the dental industry needs to be revolutionized?
Studio Dental was founded with the idea of providing better dentistry to more people. Dentistry is in serious need of sprucing up—the industry is stigmatized as old, smelly, and often times scary. I previously had a practice in North Beach in San Francisco where many concepts for Studio Dental were born—specifically, how we could use experiential design (a truck), beautiful branding, unparalleled care and easy access to encourage—dare I say, entice—more people to get to the dentist. 2 out of 3 people just don’t go to dental appointments, which is crazy to me. As a profession we’re clearly missing something in terms of reaching our consumers—and technology is critical to this. From scheduling appointments online, to texting or chatting online with our office, to digital x-rays and impressions, Studio Dental has a very modern feel.

Looking for the ultimate startup resource? Look no further.

| June 22, 2014|Tags:

Designing the ideal healthcare experience isn’t easy. Navigating the changing digital health space is even tougher without guidance from people who’ve been there. That’s where we come in. The Startup Elements series is a gold mine of information for digital health startups. From the nitty gritty of patents and marketing to collaborative leadership and building great products, the Startup Elements series is a great resource for anyone looking for guidance from the luminaries in digital health.

Want some suggestions on where to start? We’ve got you covered.

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.


April Is Parkinson’s Awareness Month – Meet Lift Labs

| April 24, 2014

April is Parkinson’s awareness month, which is a special time for Lift Labs. We have been working extremely hard on developing devices and technologies to improve quality of life for those afflicted by theses types of neurological disorders.

Back when I was an engineering student I became aware of Parkinson’s Disease on a very personal level, when my close friend’s dad got diagnosed. Over the years I saw what is meant by a “degenerative” disorder as the disease began to take effect. Despite the best treatments available, there currently is no cure and the disease will affect many aspects of life including motor control, cognition, and mobility.

In the face of such a terrible disease, I’ve personally seen friends and family members rise up, and become active in support groups, foundations[1], fundraisers, and research. I’m truly humbled by these people who refuse to give up. Patients with Parkinson’s have told me that just witnessing their loved ones doing these things gives them strength.

A need for new technology development

When I started Lift Labs, I was inspired to help in my own way. I became extremely interested in developing devices to assist with neurological disorders. I first set out to develop Liftware[2], a unique product that, using an on-board computer, helps stabilize hand tremor by intelligently sensing the user’s tremor, and actively moving what they are holding (e.g. a spoon) in the opposite direction. The product has been successful in helping a large volume of individuals feed themselves once again with dignity and independence.  When one patient described the technology we’re developing as a “hope for the future” I realized it’s that hope that keeps us motivated and working hard.

Our first product, Liftware

We’re not alone – with us, many researchers are working to understand genes that affect Parkinson’s, develop new drug therapies, brain stimulators, and one day eradicate the disease once and for all. This month, I hope to recognize not only the patients but the community of people standing behind them. Friends, family members, and researchers are all working together improve our future.


[1] http://www.npf.org; https://www.michaeljfox.org/

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

Parenting is hard. Kinsights is here to help.

| April 08, 2014|Tags: , ,

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Every parent realizes that annual well-child visits with their pediatrician typically last around 11-20 minutes, hardly enough time to get their shots and measurements. Contemporary parents are looking online for everyday parenting tips and advice on their children’s health for the hundreds of questions that crop up in between appointments. Time spent online actually goes up when U.S. women become mothers, and the top five parenting search terms get over half a billion searches on Google each month, according to Kinsights, one of our portfolio companies.

Where are they now? ThriveOn

| March 23, 2014|Tags: , ,

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Have a startup? Only four more days to submit your business plan to hear back in April! We thought we’d check in with one of Rock Health’s seasoned veterans, ThriveOn. The company, which offers a mobile platform for personalized mental health management,  has gained serious momentum in recent months and was crowned winner of SXSW Accelerator in the health category just last week. We caught up with co-founders Alejandro Foung and Nicholas Letourneau who first came to Rock Health around this time last year.

What’s new on the homefront?
ThriveOn is now live at 30+ universities with thousands of students using it to help improve their mental health! We launched our free assessment online at SXSW two weeks ago and won first place in the health category!

How are things different from a year ago?
We have customers, active users, a live product, and a team of 7. A year ago, it was just Nick and myself trying to execute this idea.

Any amazing new hires?
Yes! We hired a core team (5 and counting) comprised of folks who build, design, and create the content for our program and product. The common thread that binds us is all having studied psychology in college and/or having been impacted personally by issues within mental health.

What’s the funniest thing that’s happened to ThriveOn since moving to Rock Health’s new space?
Two of the office dogs got into a little turf war over who gets what side of the office. Some laps, beds, and prized sunny spots were stolen by both sides over the morning. The final blow came from the ThriveOn side, when Hagrid the pug decided to angry-poop in enemy territory, claiming it as his.

What’s been your favorite moment as a team?
Family trip to carmel, shopping, cooking, and embarrassingly all working out together.

Do have have any advice for startups looking to join the Rock Health portfolio?
Do it. To this day, joining Rock Health has been one the most impactful things that has happened to ThriveOn. Everything we’ve given back to the community of Rock Health, we’ve gotten back three fold.

If ThriveOn was a coffee roast, what would it be and why?
David’s Tea. Duh.

Join ThriveOn at Rock Health. Send us your pitch deck by 3/27 and we’ll get back to you in April.

Session Launches for the 300 million Americans who won’t go to the gym this year

| November 07, 2013

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This week, our portfolio company, Sessions launched their online health coaching for fitness and weight loss. Their beautiful platform connects people with their very own health coach who guides them through a structured, lifestyle modification program to change behavior and launch active lifestyles.

We sat down with their CEO, Nick Crocker to talk about how Sessions got where it is today. “I started Sessions thinking I knew a lot about behavior change,” he says. “I knew all the theories, and the biases that influence behavior and I thought Sessions was going to be about telling people those things. 10 days in and 25 customer interviews later, I quickly realized how little I knew!”