Category Archives: Startups

WellnessFX connects with its roots and makes new friends in Portland, Oregon

On December 8th, WellnessFX visited Portland to introduce ourselves to the health community with our founders and members of the team.  Our founder, Jim Kean has deep roots in Portland, having started Sapient networks (later part of WebMd) in Portland and belonged to the community for a number of years.  We connected
with members of the health community, from practitioners to MMA fighters to discuss our platform and the implications for the Health 2.0 revolution. From visits with Nortwest College and pints at BridgePort BrewPub, we were warmly welcomed and impressed by the knowledge and enthusiasm of the Portland health community.

As the site of our founder’s first company, Sapient Health Networks, Portland holds a special significance – hence our interest in launching shortly in the community.  Not only has Jim been a resident for over a decade, but he has also worked closely with many members of the health community from the local University to other entrepreneurs. In fact, Sapient networks was launched in part out of BridgePort Brew Pub where many a late night brainstorm or celebration was held.

Having lead the Health 1.0 movement, WellnessFX was happy to introduce the audience to our current platform, a forerunner of the consumer-empowered Health 2.0.  WellnessFX can help anyone from a MMA fighter to a couch warrior track their health and optimize it. Many of our members have shown incredible improvement in their health markers over time.

Perhaps most impressed with the product were the many practitioners who joined us from the Portland community, including our beloved Dr. Ross. Frequent comments heard were how great the WellnessFX product is and that it’s long overdue to address many of the shortcomings of our existing healthcare system. Many of the following questions were addressed:

Question: How do the tele-consults work?

Answer: We provide a conference line for the practitioner to discuss the results with the WellnessFX member. Our product allows you to share the Doctor’s clipboard so to speak.

Question: What does it mean to be a part of the healthcare “team”?

Answer: We see our platform as really allowing everyone to practice integrative medicine. A member may see a nutritionist, acupuncturist and a general practitioner through their program. Everyone works together with the member to improve their health bringing the best from each discipline.

Question: How often are diagnostics run?

Answer: This depends on the member but typically every 4 to 6 months.  What most of our practitioners find is that this, plus consulting with the patient, has a tremendous power to affect change in the members health.


The WellnessFX team was incredibly touched by the warm welcome to Portland.  With our current round of funding, we are excited to be launching our product in Oregon soon! Look forward to working with many of the people we met during our visit.

If you want to connect with WellnessFX when we come to your city, please email info@wellnessfx.com.

The posts on this blog are for information only, and are not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship nor do they constitute medical or healthcare advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one's own healthcare professionals.

WFX Welcomes BD Director Zak Holdsworth

WellnessFX is pleased to now have Zak Holdsworth leading business development efforts. Between his tech business strategy background and affinity for adventure sports and triathlons, he’s a great addition to the team (and not just because of the Oceana accent). A Stanford MBA graduate, Zak initially started working with WFX while at Voyager Capital, where he was focused on deal sourcing and investment due-diligence. Here he describes his initial interest in WFX and where he sees the industry heading.

WFX: Has health always been important to you?

Zak: I grew up in Gisborne, New Zealand, on a farm where–mainly out of convenience–we grew much of our own food. I was also born ­into a family where nutrition and healthy lifestyle were considered important, and health has always been an important part of my life. Later, when I started training for triathlons and mountain races, I became more intentional as I started to understand the impact that sports nutrition and general wellness had on performance.

How do you describe your new role at WellnessFX?

I never expected to work in the healthcare industry as it always seemed too broken and bureaucratic. But when I first came across WFX I didn’t see it as a healthcare company (and apart from a few specific challenges, like regulation, I still don’t). I saw it as a consumer web and data aggregation business that, if successful, would drive systemic positive change within healthcare.

I see my role as director of business development including a few key pieces. The first involves developing and executing on a strategy for aggregating the most interesting and actionable data feeds within the quantified self ecosystem. The second piece is market development. As we look to establish a product market fit for a platform that we could take in any number of directions, it’s my responsibility to define how we can extend our reach most effectively in terms of the channels we focus on and the specifics of how we pitch our product into those channels.

What does success look like?

We believe that increasingly over the next five to 10 years everyone will be able to manage their health online. It’s our mission to become the quantified self platform of choice for consumers. And I believe that we are sitting on the cusp of a wave of innovation that could positively transform the way that people live their lives – if WellnessFX becomes one of the key drivers of this positive change then, in my mind, we will have succeeded.

The posts on this blog are for information only, and are not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship nor do they constitute medical or healthcare advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one's own healthcare professionals.

Why Engineers Do Better in Startups

 

Credit: Flickr Creative Commons, Dierken

Credit: Flickr Creative Commons, Dierken

I agree with a lot of Bindu’s article, Why Engineers Are Better off Joining Startups. I started a fairly successful Web 1.0 company in the 1990’s. At that time we had to hand roll even the most basic infrastructure to get the service up and running. Waterfall development was the rule. It was necessary to raise a lot more money because even basic services like Paychex, outsourced HR, Hosting, etc… were not available across a spectrum of what a functional company needs.

We still had a very successful exit as investors/employees received a 27x’s money return.

I recently came back and decided to do WellnessFX, funded in 2010. It has been nothing short of mind boggling to see the breadth of technology and business services available. What’s more, the variety of venture funds available that actually service early stage and seed companies is equally mind blowing. The talent pools are diverse and incredibly smart. Also, because there are so many services and outsourced resources available, it isn’t necessary to have a huge employment base. This means less dilution to the company equity structure. This is hugely in favor of investors and employees.

While the pay and job security are perceived as being superior with a large existing company like a Google, Facebook, or even Groupon, in reality there are several downsides: (keep reading >>)

The posts on this blog are for information only, and are not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship nor do they constitute medical or healthcare advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one's own healthcare professionals.

WellnessFX Product News that May Benefit Your Health

At WellnessFX we’re excited to share good news on the product front, coming straight from CEO Jim Kean and COO Brent Vaughan, the company co-founders:

Jim Kean

Jim Kean | COO

WFX: What can you share about the company progress and timeline?

Jim Kean: We’re excited to announce that we’ll be doing a limited Beta version of our service beginning this week. This comes on the heels of three years of research into the growing wellness and quantified health categories, successful funding of the business idea last year, and our successful Alpha testing for six months. Our Betas will be provided with two full diagnostic testing panels each followed by online coaching sessions with an MD, Pharmacist, and Clinical Nutritionist.

Brent Vaughan

Brent Vaughan | COO

Brent Vaughan:The company has progressed dramatically in such a short period of time. Our early user testing has enabled us to go through a pretty high number of software revs and has yielded a software tool that helps our licensed medical practitioners provide a more consistent consumer-directed wellness experience. We’ve been struck both by how well consumers are engaging with the data to better understand their personal system biology and by how receptive doctors and other licensed medical practitioners are to the idea of being part of more collaborative interactions.

What initially got you excited about the idea of making personal health data more accessible?

JK: A number of anti-aging scientists and MDs understand that measuring and understanding our biology can have a profound influence on the trajectory of our biological aging much later in life. Traditional allopathic medicine is available to you when your health begins to deteriorate, but I wanted to know how healthy I was from a frame of what I could do about it now.

I’m pretty healthy, but like everyone, I have my biological strengths and weakness. Taking a deep dive into my key biomarkers to aggressively manage and direct my personal system biology into an optimal state seemed valuable, and I’m excited to have others try it for themselves.

BV: I’m enthusiastic about the potential of using cutting edge biotechnology and information technology to make consumers more informed and empowered to take responsibility for improving their health.

When I was working in oncology and diabetes care, I have seen people engage with their personal healthcare data. During those instances I observed that the thing that made the difference was not how simple or complex the data was, but instead how relevant or actionable it was to the user—I have observed that people will take the time to learn what they need to know about their health if you show them that they can then do something about it. It is exciting for me to see our early users doing this with their wellness!

Which groups do you see as most benefiting from WFX’s offerings?

BV: Consumers, medical practitioners and 3rd party payers all stand to gain tremendously. Although all three constituencies are important, our real focus is on the consumers at a time when many solutions are being targeted primarily at doctors and payers.

Although earlier stage preventative care is known to work, the problem has always been getting it paid for when the most significant benefit may be years out. We are focusing on our members because they are the group that cares most in the outcome—even if it is in the future.

JK: Globally, I believe that everyone can benefit from optimizing their personal system biology and markers. Regardless of your level of health, knowing at a profound level how you are operating can provide really important insights.

What has you most excited for the product launch?

JK: With all of our Alpha users, it’s been exciting to help people get tested and develop self awareness. Each time someone new signs up there is a palpable sense that a first step has been taken down the path of proactive personal health management. Surprisingly, the biggest “aha” that people consistently get is not the sophistication of the diagnostic platform WellnessFX provides, but rather the ability to have a multidisciplinary team schedule in-depth time with you. This is done in an online format to help you explore, understand, and ultimately manage your biomarkers.

We are also excited for practitioners as we really feel that our service can raise the level of positive interactions between health and wellness consumers and their practitioners. The data is organized and all of the scheduling and administration is taken care of. All that is required of a practitioner is that they log on at the appointed time for a really productive interaction with the consumer. Through the service the practitioner has the opportunity to constantly upgrade and improve their overall knowledge of the latest biomarkers as they become available.

BV: I’m excited about seeing how consumers with no healthcare or biology background can quickly understand and become empowered by the more technical data we are making usable. Once we show our users how the technical information is actionable, they will engage and become advocates about their experience.

It has also been great to see our early users make significant improvement to the biomarkers that correlate with better health outcomes. I always tell people that WellnessFX is not a game of the “The Biggest Loser”, you don’t need to dramatically overhaul your life to see improvement. I can’t wait for large numbers of people to experience relatively small daily changes yielding significant and measureable improvements in their health.

When Will the Product Be Available?

We are presently in Beta release. We anticipate increased availability in Q4 2011.

The posts on this blog are for information only, and are not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship nor do they constitute medical or healthcare advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one's own healthcare professionals.

LOHAS Forum on Consumer Trends & Health

Members of our team headed to Boulder last week to take part in the annual LOHAS (Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability) Forum, where we saw again that wellness fans aren’t a single group but represent a wide variety of healthy interests. The LOHAS experience considers how ideas in business, environment, health, and wellness can educate about existing and emerging sustainable practices (including the many forms that sustainable living can take).

After morning outdoor yoga and heart rhythm meditation sessions at the St. Julien Hotel and Spa, panel discussions included:

Intergenerational consumer trends: Steve French and Gwynne Rogers from the Natural Marketing Institute shared that while Baby Boomers still make up the majority of LOHAS consumers, Gen Xers and Ys are becoming more active in the space. The latter are motivated to incorporate more sustainable products and services into their busy lives—and sometimes “partial solutions” are deemed good enough when their time, money and convenience are on the line.

The movement of coalition branding: Speakers from GoodGuide, EcoBonus, and The SOAP Group discussed the shopping “value vs. values dilemma” in which consumers consider their values when shopping with the aid of tools to navigate sustainable brands and their impact. These “pull” tools offer resources consumers want, which is a major change from the “push” messaging that has long dominated marketing.

GMO Awareness: Michael Besancon from Whole Foods talked about ways that genetically modified foods have infiltrated our lives and what the organic food industry is doing to combat this.

While WellnessFX is focused on providing individuals with the tools and resources to improve and control their overall health and wellness, many LOHAS consumers embrace a macro vision of (global) health and wellness through daily choices made in their personal and professional lives. The collective energy and enthusiasm at LOHAS was most inspiring, and it promises to be a valuable resource for WellnessFX as we move forward.

The posts on this blog are for information only, and are not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship nor do they constitute medical or healthcare advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one's own healthcare professionals.

We’re Hiring Engineers and Designers

Our mission is to revolutionize human health by providing a web-based platform that leverages cutting edge diagnostics to deliver personalized nutritional and lifestyle recommendations to optimize individual health.

I fell in love with health technology while building Sapient Health Network in the 90’s, which became WebMD. (WebMD now serves over 20M people.) Now, we’re ready tackle a web platform that will leverage innovations in personalized biometrics, nutrition, and genomics to empower people with more decision-relevant information about their health than ever before.

We are tracking useful biometrics that will help you answer questions about your personal system biology. Our goal is to make wellness understandable and affordable for everyone.

The timing is right. The addressable market for our product includes multiple, multi-billion dollar, growing industries. And, hundreds of conscientious people have signed up for our private beta.

We want to see a health and wellness revolution in our lifetime. We need your help:

We’re Hiring Engineers & Designers

We’re looking for people with a strong background in machine learning, distributed systems, bio-informatics, data visualization, HCI, or front-end development. We’re building our initial product in Ruby and are looking for self-starters who are highly motivated to build a multi-billion dollar, industry-leading company with us.

Are you naturally driven to solve complex challenges? Are you passionate about building products that truly do good for humanity? And are you excited about leveraging the best of your craft to improve a field of science that is severely lacking great technology. Then, join us!

Jim Kean, CEO | Founder
Email me: jim@wellnessfx.com

The posts on this blog are for information only, and are not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship nor do they constitute medical or healthcare advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one's own healthcare professionals.