Healthbox announces new program to double down on proven health care startups

Written by Doug Pitorak
Published on Mar. 04, 2015
Healthbox announces new program to double down on proven health care startups


As the health care industry continues to change, those who hope to affect it adapt as well.

That’s the story at Healthbox, an accelerator founded in April 2011 in Chicago by Nina Nashif that focuses on health care-focused tech companies. Moving away from its original program, the accelerator recently announced its new Healthbox Studios model.

Launching in Boston on Thursday, Miami in April, Chicago in June and Salt Lake City in July, Healthbox Studios are two month programs, a departure from the 12 16-week, full-time programs Healthbox has put on in eight markets since the Chicago launch in 2012.

Healthbox will no longer take equity in exchange for seed funding at the start of the program, a move that Amy Len, a director at Healthbox, said will expose the accelerator to a wider range of companies, from seed-stage startups to revenue-generating companies.

“From the investment point of view, our partners want a pipeline of innovation, but they also want access to companies that have proven outcome,” Len said. “For us, we have a similar objective. We still want to see that range of really early seed-stage companies, but we also want to start working with companies — and we have been before, we just want to make a concerted effort to do more of this — that have proven outcome.”

Len said potential investors — Healthbox included — will evaluate companies after they complete the program.

Companies entering the program will be placed into one of two tracks: early-stage pre-revenue companies and later-stage companies with revenue. From there, Len said the companies will receive customized, focused mentorship.

According to Len, Healthbox Studios were born out of feedback Healthbox received from strategic partners and past participants. The flexibility to simultaneously receive mentorship and successfully operate businesses was a recurring theme in feedback, Len said. Therefore, companies are not required to be on-site full-time under the new program. If they choose, they could go on-site only one or two days a week.

“A lot of other programs want to try to open the door to different stages of companies but aren’t also changing the customization or changing how they work with the companies,” Len said. “I think it’s important that we’re doing both.”

Len said Healthbox aims to accept 10-12 companies into each iteration of Healthbox Studios. Applications for Chicago’s summer program must be turned in by April 22.

Having invested in a portfolio of more than 75 companies — a portfolio that has raised roughly $50 million in follow-on funding — Healthbox is focused on helping young health care innovators grow their businesses. Len said Healthbox Studios should help that cause.

“In the end, our goal is to enable companies to really rapidly evaluate, test and scale their businesses for the immediate challenges of the health care industry,” Len said. “We’re excited to be able to do that in a new way.”

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