Nueterra Capital recently selected 6 companies for their Launch Health Accelerator that’s located in Kansas City. To learn more about this new accelerator and the companies involved, we talked with Don Peterson, Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Launch Health Accelerator.
What’s the genesis behind creating the accelerator? Who’s behind it?
LaunchKC, an initiative created by the Kansas City Downtown Council and the Economic Development Corporation of KC, has as its mission to support entrepreneurship and new business formation in the KC area. For the past 6 years LaunchKC has conducted a business plan competition granting over $2 million to early-stage businesses that demonstrated real potential. In 2018, LaunchKC transformed the grant program into 3 industry-focused accelerators, Fintech, CleanTech, and Healthcare, designed to give promising businesses the development and educational support they need in addition to capital.
Nueterra Capital was selected as the venture capital partner for the healthcare accelerator, called Launch Health Accelerator. Launch Health Accelerator is designed for early-stage businesses deemed likely to disrupt and improve the current healthcare system. The goal is to build partnerships with entrepreneurs who have fresh ideas on how to make healthcare more accessible, with more predictable outcomes and transparent costs. The accelerator opened the application window in late June in search of entrepreneurs dedicated to making healthcare outcomes more predictable, delivery more accessible, costs more transparent and technology that empowers more patients to be consumers of healthcare. Out of over 200 companies that applied, six were chosen to participate in the accelerator’s first round of development.
There are a lot of accelerators out there, what makes your accelerator unique?
What makes the Launch Health Accelerator unique is that we have a healthcare-focused venture capital firm, Nueterra Capital, making an initial investment in each cohort company on the front end. We believe this offers each selected company an opportunity to gain valuable experience with institutional capital as well as raising the business’s attractiveness to customers, vendors, and other investors who look for stability and sustainability before adopting new products or services from nascent businesses.
What was the criterion you used to select companies?
We looked for healthcare companies at or near market entry developing their growth strategy and seeking the capital to fuel that growth. We were most interested in business that improve the consumer/patient experience, improved cost and price transparency, or are deploying leading-edge technology to advance the industry.
Which companies are part of your first cohort and what’s their 1 sentence elevator pitch
Healium by Story UP, Columbia, MO, is the world’s first virtual and augmented reality channel powered by brainwaves and heart rate.
MedZERO, Kansas City, MO, is a new employee benefit providing instant 0% loans for families throughout the U.S. who are struggling to pay their healthcare bills.
Sickweather, Kansas City, MO, knows where sick people are and where they will be up to 15 weeks in advance. It’s like a Doppler radar for illness.
Spoke Health, Denver, CO, helps healthcare organizations deploy and scale new care and payment models to tackle high cost care episodes from “ouch” to “outcome.”
TheraWe Connect, Kansas City, MO, is a mobile, HIPAA-compliant, video platform that bridges the learning gap for parents between the home and the therapy center.
WellBrain, San Francisco, CA, enables physicians and hospital systems to use evidence based non-opiate modalities such as mindfulness and other solutions in a B2B2C software-as-a-service model.
What’s the case for healthcare startups in Kansas City?
Our vast healthcare system touches lives across the entire spectrum of geographic and demographic strata. Kansas City sits at the crossroads of urban, suburban, and rural care. It’s a place uniquely situated to learn and experience what works across that entire spectrum. Rural care has been largely left behind by policy makers and politicians, yet more than 20 percent of our citizens are in rural communities. Accelerating businesses that can improve care for communities both large and small are businesses that will endure.
Healthcare has such long sales cycles, is the accelerator format the right approach for healthcare? What are you doing to shorten that cycle for companies in the accelerator?
We’ve selected companies that have already demonstrated market traction. Our job is to teach, connect, and support them. In Kansas City, established healthcare providers are hungry for innovation. They are more likely to embrace innovations from businesses they’ve come to know and trust. Our program offers access to many of the largest local systems and to other key prospective partners such as Kansas University Medical Center, Children’s Mercy Hospital, Blue Cross Blue Shield, MidAmerica Coalition on Health, SpecKC, and many others. We’re even doing a 2-day visit to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester MN to meet with Mayo Ventures and the Mayo Innovation Lab.
What are your predictions for the categories of companies that are going to come in the next 5-10 years that will really disrupt healthcare as we know it
I believe we will see companies that are using technology to enhance and inform better decision-making by consumers, providers, and payers. We’ll see technology enhancements to early detection of debilitating conditions such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, behavioral health, pain management, opioid diversion, chronic disease care, site of service optimization, integrated telemedicine and remote monitoring, elder care for both patients and families/caregivers. Payment models that support self-underwriting employers and their employees to better utilize benefits and contain costs, technology-based integrated delivery networks that offer price transparency and the full spectrum of care continuity, and big advances in intelligent clinical decision support systems based on experiential data combined with peer reviewed clinical literature and historical medical standards.