DC To VC: An Inside Look At The Winners Of Morgenthaler's Health Tech Startup Showcase

Last week, Morgenthaler Ventures, the 40-year-old Sand Hill Road VC firm wrapped up its "DC to VC Startup Showcase", a nationwide contest geared towards finding the most promising young health tech startups. From nearly 200 applicants, the pool was whittled down to eleven finalists, which presented to an invite-only crowd of VCs, angel investors and entrepreneurs. The companies were then categorized according to whether they were seeking seed funding or looking to raise their series A. The live audience of over 350 health tech enthusiasts, as well as those watching on live stream, put the finishing touch on the months-long competition, selecting the winners (after commentary from a panel of VC and entrepreneurial judges). The winner of the seed round contest was EyeNetra, an affordable, mobile diagnostic tool for our eyes, and Jiff Inc (a recent TechCrunch Disrupt finalist) took top prize in the series A flight with its HIPAA-compliant iPad platform for patient communication and education. Of course, while there were two winners, the DC to VC audience chose from a group of strong finalists. For more on those finalists, check out the quick blurbs below as well as the video of presentations at the end. Seed Finalists: Careticker is the world's first platform that helps patients plan in advance for a hospital or outpatient procedure. Skimble powers the mobile wellness movement with a cross-platform ecosystem of fun and dynamic coaching applications. Its latest title, Workout Trainer, ranks Top 10 in the free Healthcare & Fitness category on iPhone/iPad. SurgiChart is a mobile, cloud-based, social-clinical network for surgeons to exchange relevant perioperative, case-centric information. TeleThrive provides patients an instant connection to doctors for a medical consultation using any telephone or computer with complete audio and video conferencing. Viewics provides hospitals with cloud-based analytics and business intelligence solutions which enable them to drive enhanced operational, financial and clinical outcomes. Series-A Finalists: AbilTo develops and delivers online mental health programs to managed care members and enterprise workforces that help reduce payor costs while improving overall health outcomes. Axial Exchange moves healthcare organizations towards pay-for-performance, enabling providers to coordinate care and measure clinical quality across disparate settings. Empower Interactive's online services deliver proven psychotherapy methodologies via an e-learning platform to greatly improve the economics and accessibility of mental and behavioral health solutions. YourNurseIsOn.com employs bi-directional text, phone and email communications to help hospitals and agencies put "the right healthcare providers, in the right places, right now." And ... The Winners: Hailing from MIT Media Labs, EyeNetra is developing an eye diagnostic tool for mobile phones that will allow anyone (with minimal training) to take an eye test, receive a diagnostic measurement, and access eye care, all with the touch of a button. According to EyeNetra Founder David Schafran, of the 4 billion people who need glasses in the world today, over half of them don't have access to eye care -- or glasses. Not to mention, the patient experience at eye doctors is less than fun, and eye diagnostic tools tend to be archaic, expensive, require trained professionals to use, and are big and bulky. So EyeNetra wants to empower patients and those in need of glasses by providing them with a low-cost eye test and options for care accessible from anywhere. At any time. EyeNetra thus offers a smartphone app and a cheap eyepiece that can be attached to a phone with ease to perform a simple alignment test, in minutes allowing the user to receive a refractive assessment for nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, etc. What's more, the company is seeking to offer on-demand eye care, through an eye care network at which the company will sit at the center, brokering between patients and eye care providers, vendors, and service providers. According to their presentation, "From 'store-and-forward your electronic prescription' to 'personalized prevention and treatment services', and 'access and recruit new patients'", the startup is looking to create an ecosystem of "value-added services" that will enable "whole new businesses". EyeNetra is also looking to build a solution that includes a suite of eye care devices; it has already developed a cataracts diagnostic and will soon have retina diagnostics, as it works toward building a "medkit" that people can have at home or community health care workers can have in the field. Jiff, the inbox for healthcare, was founded by James Currier, a serial entrepreneur who co-founded WonderHill, a social gaming company, and Tickle, which became the world’s largest self-assessment company, registering 100 million people and was acquired by Monster.com in 2004. Currier currently co-runs Ooga Labs, an investment and incubation company in Palo Alto. You may remember the JiffPad as a TechCrunch Disrupt 2011 winner. It's just that good. Read our full coverage here. But what is Jiff? Jiff is an iPad app that gives doctors and physicians the ability to create effective and memorable "teaching moments" right in front of patients, just as they might with a wall poster or anatomical model. Teaching materials, explanations, gestures, and patients' questions can be preserved and subsequently emailed to patients after consultations. The medical teaching tool brings the wonder of mobile technology into the doctor's office, giving patients the opportunity to receive more effective and memorable explanations and diagnoses, while doctors have the satisfaction of knowing that their explanations of ailments and treatments are understood in a visual, interactive way. The JiffPad is aimed at helping improve healthcare communication and curing the doctor-patient relationship of misunderstanding and miscommunication. For more on the finalists, click over to YouTube for videos of all the finalists. Excerpt image courtesy of Hook Surgery
Rip Empson

Rip Empson is a Writer at Gigabuzz, focused on covering early-stage startups, especially those with a technology focus and great perks.

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