The Rise Of The Health Startup? A Peek At The 13 Companies In Rock Health’s Inaugural Batch

There’s been a bit of a debate going on of late among venture capitalists and investors over whether or not web startups are currently experiencing a cash crunch when it comes to early-stage and series A financing. (You can read Alexia’s recent breakdown here.) As per usual, the answer depends on whom you ask. This recent debate contrasts with the data seen in Column Five Media’s infographic from June, which showed venture funding and investment levels picking back up in the first half of 2011, poised to storm back to pre-2008-collapse levels.

Of course, the data showed that not all tech sectors were experiencing the boom times: Health and medical-related investment, for example, was on the low end, receiving only 3 percent of venture funding over the last year. Yet, there may be some evidence that investment in the digital health space may in fact be heating up. Looking at this data compiled by new healthtech startup incubator Rock Health, we see a list of 41 healthtech startups have been funded in 2011. CrunchBase’s data, which uses slightly more generous paramaters for defining “health tech”, puts that number over 120 or so.

Of those startups that were founded this year, Aza Raskin’s Massive Health raised $2.25 million in seed funding from Andreessen Horowitz, Charles River Ventures, and more. (Well, Massive Health was actually founded in December 2010, but close enough.) And Azumio, which was founded this year, raised $2.5 million in seed funding from Founders Fund and Accel in July.

What’s more, we just covered 100Plus’ $500K seed raise from Founders Fund earlier this week. The personalized health prediction startup was not mentioned in Rock Health’s list, I assume because it is still in private beta.

But the point is, as we’ve seen in Dave Chase’s series of guest posts, the healthcare industry is ripe for disruption. Sure, the industry has a long way to go, but we’re seeing some great progress from startups like Practice Fusion, for example, which is busy becoming the largest provider of electronic medical records in the industry.

There’s also plenty of room for help in the way of incubators. On Friday, Rock Health, the startup accelerator for health-focused startups, hosted its Demo Day at UCSF Mission Bay, where the 13 startups in its latest class introduced their businesses to 250 attendees, among them investors from Accel, NEA, Khosla Ventures, True Ventures, Benchmark, Kapor Capital, SV Angel, The Social+Capital Partnership, Founders Fund and more.

For those unfamiliar, Rock Health provides seed funding ($20K grants, without taking equity), office space, and mentorship to entrepreneurs that want to break into healthcare. We covered their debut here.

The thirteen startups that demo-ed range from BitGym, which makes motion-sensitive iOS video games for working out; to IDEO-spinoff Omada, an online support group to reverse diabetes; toCellScope, a smartphone plugin designed to remotely diagnose ear infections.

It was also great to see that these teams included entrepreneurs that have previously worked in other areas of tech and media and are now bringing their talents to health: For example, Gabe Vanrenen, the former Founder and CTO of Flurry, Jackson Wilkinson, the former head of UX for Posterous and LinkedIn, to Jeff Lieberman, the host of Discovery Channel’s Time Warp.

Again, we covered the initial eight Rock Health startups that were ready to introduce their wares back in June, and you can read about them here. However, five of the startups were not yet ready for the limelight, so we’re providing brief introductions to those below:

Bigevidence provides clinicians focused access to the universe of medical evidence at the point of care and within electronic health records, improving quality of care, while reducing costs and risks.

BitGym thinks you should be using video games to exercise. Their patent pending technology uses an iPad to turn any cardiovascular machine into an interactive
gaming experience.

Cake Health is the best free way to manage your healthcare expenses online. The startup was a finalist at TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco in September. You can read our initial profile here.

Crohnology is a social health network for people with chronic medical conditions to share and learn what treatments work, meet others near them, and track and share their health.

Heartbeat is a salesforce.com-like enterprise solution for wellness professionals that aims to empower people to be successful doing what they love.

Applications for Rock Health’s next class beginning in January 2012 are open until Wednesday, November 16th.

Processing $11 Million A Day, Jack Dorsey Says: “We Don’t Want To Make Square All About Taxi Cabs”

Jack Dorsey’s mobile payments startup Square is now processing $11 million a day in mobile payments, it was revealed today at the Techonomy conference in Tucson, Arizona. Host David Kirkpatrick threw the number out there as something Dorsey had told him backstage—the last official number was $10 million a day and Square may not be consistently above $11 million yet. Either way, this is up from $4 million a day just last July.

The key to Square’s rapid growth in Dorsey’s mind is the same thing that propels Twitter: “We haven’t defined a lot of how people are going to use them.” He sees both as utilities which can be adopted to different purposes by their users, and that is what makes them so powerful. “We don’t want to make Square all about taxi cabs,”” he says. “And we don’t want to make Twitter all about celebrities and politicians.”

The other thing that Square and Twitter have in common is that they are both essentially communications technologies. Dorsey thinks of the receipt as a publishing medium (kind of like TWitter). “It is a communication medium between the business and the consumer,” he says. But normally it is something we throw away. That communication between merchant and payer is where the “exchange of value” lies. Payments is just something “we need to do” to create that communication.

Taking a swipe at NFC payments, he notes that they lack that communication layer. “NFC only gives the merchant the identity [of the consumer] after the transaction.” By identifying the customer when they walk in the door, as Square is trying to do with its new Card Case product, there is better chance to build loyalty by doing something for the customer before they even pay.

Asked about Twitter’s business model, Dorsey notes that Twitter’s ad products (Promoted Tweets,Promoted Accounts, and Promoted Trends) are getting engagement rates “between 1 and 5 percent.”

He doesn’t call these ads. “We wanted to build a business model that felt like it was part of the network,” he says. “I don’t think of it as advertisement in the traditional sense.” Rather, he wants to “introduce you to something new.” Of course, if those Promoted Tweets were really as delightful as he makes them out to be, they would be clicked more than 5 percent of the time.

TEDxManhattanBeach – Thomas Suarez – IPhone Application Developer. . .And 6th Grader

TEDxManhattanBeach – Thomas Suarez – iPhone Application Developer. . .and 6th Grader
Thomas Suarez is a 6th grade student at a middle school in the South Bay. Tom been fascinated by computers and technology since before kindergarten. Recently, he’s been focused on the development of applications for the iPhone, and has established his own company, CarrotCorp. His most successful ap is one he terms “an anti-Justin-Bieber game” called “Bustin Jieber”. “It’s is a variation on the Whac-a-Mole theme,” he explains.

Arrived Has Arrived

 

Want to tell your friends that you’ve arrived somewhere, but you’re too lazy to check into Foursquare, Twitter, Instagram, Batch, iMessageor text them? WELL YOU’RE REALLY SAD IN LUCK, EXTREMELY PRIVILEGED PEOPLE, BECAUSE TECHCRUNCH DISRUPT FINALIST ARRIVED HAS ARRIVED IS NOW OUT OF PRIVATE BETA.

 

In case you didn’t get the memo, Arrived is an iPhone app that notifies people when you get to a certain place, with, get this, no immediate effort from your lonesome. Yeah, I know. Crazy ass modern world right?

 

Arrived co-founder Matthias Broecheler stands by the fact that a good number of people actually want to do this, “People love to set up arrivals around places like ‘San Francisco’ or ‘Manhattan’ or ‘Central Park’, so that they can be notified when friends arrive there. We spend a lot of time working on a geo-fencing solution that would allow people to arrive in geographic areas of various sizes automatically without draining a user’s battery. We are the first iPhone app we know that does this efficiently. Most apps only do geofencing around places, that is, a geographic point with a small radius around it.”

 

To use Arrived, download the app and pick a place you want to notify people about. Then pick the people you want to notify about your arrival and voila it just works! I picked a random place (The Ramp, a bar down the street) and then a bunch of random people so my old co-workers are totally going to get a random message one of these days when I’ve forgotten all about this article and I’m walking by there on the way to work. HAH. TAKE THAT OLD COWORKERS.

 

You can download this thing here.

 

Glooko Connects Glucose Meters To iPhones For Tracking Diabetes

The iPhone in your pocket can do a lot more than just play games or music. Used properly, that computer can help save your life. Consumer health apps are increasingly hitting iTunes. The latest one to appear today is Glooko (iTunes).

 

Glooko is a digital logbook for people with diabetes who have to check their blood sugar every day. There are dozens of glucose logbooks in iTunes, but almost all of them require manual entry. What makes Glooko different is that the company designed a $40 cable (sold separately) that works with six of the top glucose meters. You just plug it into both devices and it downloads your daily readings.

 

The app itself is free. It lets you mark whether the reading was done before or after a meal, add notes, and email or fax a 14-day summary to your doctor. The company charges for the cable. “What people want to do is download these readings into Apple devices,” explains co-founder Anita Mathew. “Many of these meters don’t work with Apple devices.”

 

There are an estimated 19 million diabetics in the U.S. alone, and 17 million of them test their blood sugar levels. By 2025, one in five people in the U.S. is projected to have diabetes.

 

Simply connecting these medical devices to iPhones creates a market opportunity, but this is just the first step. Once Glooko starts collecting diabetes data it could start to analyze it (although there are regulatory barriers—just plotting the data points on a graph requires FDA clearance). It could also charge for premium features. Glooko is an ambitious startup. It’s chairman and co-founder is Yogen Dalal (Xerox Parc, Mayfield Fund). Mathew worked for ten years in product marketing at Johnson & Johnson, where she helped launch several glucose meters. The third co-founder is Sundeep Madra.

 

Glooko also has some serious backers. The startup raised a $1 million seed round in November, 2010 from Chamath Palihapitiya‘s Social+Capital fund, Bill Campbell, Vint Cerf, Andy Hertzfeld, Judy Estrin, Bumptop founder Anand Agarawala, Kosmix co-founders Venky Harinarayan and Annad Rajaraman, Russel Hirsch, and Xtreme Labs. The company lends some of its Palo Alto office space to Social+Capital.

 

 

Samsung & Google Announce Ice Cream Sandwich Event: October 19, In Hong Kong

Well, that’s one way to leave US-based tech reporters scratching their heads. Samsung has just started sending out invitations to tech press inviting them to a Google/Samsung media event taking place on October 19 in Hong Kong.

The event was originally slated to be held on October 11 in San Diego, but was rescheduled out of respect for Steve Jobs, who passed away a few days before the event would have taken place.

While the previous event’s invitation was pretty vague, this one doesn’t leave any doubt: we’re going to see the debut of Ice Cream Sandwich, the next major release of the Android OS. And we’re also expecting to see the launch of the next ‘Nexus’ device (which is rumored to either be called the Nexus Prime or the Galaxy Nexus).

The Hong Kong venue is a strange move, given the fact that there’s such late notice for people to plan trips. There will be a live stream on YouTube, but since the event will likely showcase phones and tablets, the lack of hands-on time will be frustrating. (I’d speculated it might be at AsiaD, but it’s actually at a different venue).

Nokia, Moving Towards Mobile Windows

Work has begun on the first Nokia Oyj smartphones based on Microsoft Corp software following the partnership announced by the companies last month, Nokia Chief Executive Stephen Elop told Reuters.

Elop was recruited last year to rescue Nokia from increasing irrelevance at the high end of the market and is under huge pressure to produce results from the partnership.

Elop, who left a Microsoft executive post to join Nokia last September, also said he could see no good reason for the speculation that Microsoft might try to buy Nokia.

“I’m not aware of a strategic interest that Microsoft would have in the rest of the business,” Elop said.

“To the extent that a partnership has been formed around what they’re really interested in, then what would an acquisition bring other than a good year of anti-trust investigation, huge turmoil, delays?”

Nokia shares extended gains to trade as much as 2.9 percent higher. By 1459 GMT, they were up 2.2 percent at 5.86 euros, against a European technology index up 0.7 percent, having been up 1.2 percent before the Reuters interview was published.

Nokia shares have fallen almost 30 percent since the agreement with Microsoft was announced and remain not far from their more than 10-year low of 5.415 euros set earlier this week.

On Sale

Almost half of Nokia’s handset revenue comes from more basic mobile phones, which are popular in emerging markets. The company has struggled to establish its brand in the United States, especially since Apple Inc launched its iPhone.

Nokia also considered partnering with Google Inc, but decided it would be too difficult to differentiate its smartphones from a multitude of other Android devices made by the likes of Samsung and HTC.

Nokia’s chairman has said Windows-based Nokia phones will be on sale from 2012, though Elop has said he feels under pressure and would prefer to deliver one by the end of this year.

“We’re right now, today, having people work on the first Windows Phone devices from Nokia. That work is already under way. If this was an acquisition scenario, that wouldn’t be possible,” Elop said.

The agreement between Nokia and Microsoft still has to be finalized, something that Elop has said he expects to happen in the next couple of months.

Elop said he had no current plans to change Nokia’s top management, after only one senior executive was dropped in his line-up announced last month. He dismissed as nonsense a German magazine report that a wider cull was likely.

“Now what happens is accountability. If someone’s not succeeding, they need to be helped or they need to be moved along. In my context, that will absolutely be the case,” he said.

“So there’s a team in place. It’s now a new team of my new leadership, newly minted in terms of their new roles. Now they have to perform.”