500 Startups adds digital health track to focus on marketing, distribution, growth

500 Startups has a history of investing in healthcare startups —49 actually, includinguBiomeBetterDoctorDr. Chrono and Fitocracy. But with its 18th cohort in San Francisco, it has added a digital health track with eight companies that span medical tourism, clinical trial recruitment and smart fabrics.

The founders of the venture capital seed fund and accelerator come from places like Google, PayPal, Facebook and YouTube. Last year, 500 Startups unveiled a $30 million microfund for Japan to make investments in biotech, healthcare and technology businesses there. In 2014 it launched a $10 million microfund to invest in mobile health companies to supplement the healthcare infrastructure of developing countries such as India and China and across the African continent.

In a phone interview, Rebecca Woodcock, an entrepreneur-in-residence at 500 Startups who is heading up the digital health track, outlined some of the program elements. Woodcock has had some success as a digital health entrepreneur. She previously founded CakeHealth  — Inbox Health acquired its medical bill tracking tech last year.

The focus will be on mentoring startups on growth, marketing, and distribution. In exchange for $125,000 and three desks per company in the accelerator’s shared workspace in San Francisco, 500 Startups gets a 5 percent equity stake. The plan is to have two cohorts per year with five to 10 startups in each class.

Here is a look at the eight members of the formalized digital health track based on information from 500 Startups’ website.

Avicenneas is a medical tourism business that connects prospective tourists with international healthcare providers. It claims to make this sector more transparent with price and quality information.

Founders:  Ato Kasymov and Manny Kurbonali

Paubox bills itself as a secure HIPAA compliant email and file storage service.

Founder:  Hoala Greevy

Leapcure is a clinical trial recruitment business that claims it can recruit patients faster, improve engagement and halt no shows and dropouts. Those are pretty big claims. I imagine them having the same effect on big pharma as saying “my broker is EF Hutton” on a crowded plane.

Founders: Zachary Gobst, Luis De Avila, Spencer Sims, Kyle Eaton, Tyler Dornenburg

Level Therapy is taking on the challenge of improving access to behavioral health professionals.

Founders: Dan Miller and Coley Williams

NonnaTech uses real-time data from sensors to support continuous patient health monitoring, with the goal of reducing avoidable ER visits and hospitalizations.

Founder: Gary German

Pillsy is about medication management and adherence through a smart pill container and mobile app.

Founders: Jeff LeBrun, Chuks Onwuneme, Otto Sipe

SimplifiMed helps health clinics qualify for performance reimbursements by identifying, engaging, and prioritizing at risk patients using a chat bot.

Founders: Chinmay A. Singh, Sharad Mankapure

Siren Care is developing next generation smart textiles embedded with sensors starting with socks. The wearable component uses motion and temperature sensors to help diabetic neuropathy patients detect injury and track their health.

Founders: Ran Ma, Jie Fu