Health tech incubator’s demo day draws a crowd

Blueprint Health’s crowded demo day underscores growing interest in percolating local sector, even among out-of-town startups.

Blueprint Health, an incubator for young health-tech companies, last January chose its first class of nine startups from places as far away as Utah, Minnesota, Shanghai and Dubai. Now, after three months of mentoring, six of those fledgling businesses are moving their operations to New York. It’s welcome confirmation that the city’s nascent health tech industry is gaining traction.
“One thing New York has is an exceptional talent pool, some of the most innovative people in the old guard of the health world. They’ve recognized that health care has to change,” said Brian Dear, a former English teacher who has moved his company, iCouch, from Shanghai to Manhattan. The online platform connects users with therapists for online sessions, scheduling and payment.
Mr. Dear, his co-founder, Jessica Rios, and some 20 other entrepreneurs on Thursday described their visions—and their need for money—to a standing-room-only crowd at the incubator’s first demo day. Some 500 investors, entrepreneurs, mentors, journalists and would-be business partners crowded into the incubator’s SoHo digs to watch the companies make their pitch for money.
Amid pounding music and frequent whoops, high fives and man hugs–indeed, except for Ms. Rios, all the entrepreneurs were men, as was most of the audience–the sense of potential was palpable. The nine companies were selected out of 300 applicants, and over the course of the three-month mentoring period, all signed up clients or developed partnerships that they can leverage for rapid growth, says Blueprint Co-founder Matthew Farkash.
One company, said Mr. Farkash, “was an idea on the back of a napkin when they came in. We pushed them to develop it.”
Their business models run the gamut from helping providers purchase equipment more cheaply and efficiently to patient portals that provide easy communication with physicians, therapists and fellow patients. They sought investments from $350,000 to $750,000. Some already had money committed, such as AidIn, a formerly Boston-based company that is helping hospitals reduce re-admissions and has commitments for $250,000 of the $600,000 it is trying to raise. AidIn has also moved to the city.
For Mr. Dear, demo day was definitely productive. “I’ve received five emails in the last hour from potential investors,” he said. “The momentum is starting.”

Blueprint Health’s first startup class

The nine companies that made the cut find varied ways to tap into the growing health tech market. They were selected for the inaugural group of startups in Blueprint Health’s incubator for health tech startups.
AidIn: It helps hospitals collect data on the performance of post-acute care providers to help patients choose nursing homes, rehab centers and home health agencies—and avoid readmissions.
5 O’Clock Records : An online intermediary between physicians and insurers and lawyers seeking copies of medical records, it makes it easy for doctors to charge for making and sending copies. The company has a partnership with Atlantic Health Partners, which has 11,000 primary care doctors in its system.
iCouch: This online platform connects users with therapists for scheduling, payment and online therapy sessions. It has 80 therapists and 45 clients.
InquisitHealth: This startup enables phone conversations between patients with similar conditions. New York Presbyterian is a client.
Meddik: It organizes online health content and conversations on health based on helpfulness and user ratings.

Needl: This is a web platform that provides Q&A capability on apps most used by health care professionals. It helps doctors get customized answers and helps drug companies focus on doctors’ needs.
Patient Communicator: A portal for doctors to schedule appointments online, renew prescriptions and communicate with patients, it has partnered with medical software company Crowell Systems.
ProcuredHealth: This subscription-based service helps hospitals evaluate and share information about medical devices to make better purchasing decisions.
Symcat: The company has generated interest from several health plans in its triage platform for patients to evaluate symptoms and make informed choices about where and whether to seek care.