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A closer look at Mirror

At Disrupt SF, CEO Brynn Putnam demoed and launched Mirror, a smart gadget that sits on your wall and offers virtual fitness classes. The $1500 device can be paired with a monthly subscription to let the user browse fitness classes, mark their progress, and follow along with other Mirror users. The idea here is that people spend thousands of dollars on gym memberships and/or huge fitness machines like the Peloton, but that Mirror offers a way to get a similar experience at home without taking up all that space. We caught up with Putnam at the Mirror offices in NYC to check out the product and get more info. Enjoy the video!

How to Manage Work-Related PTSD

Having to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder is bad enough itself. When you have to deal with it in the workplace, it’s even hard to deal. People with PTSD will… Read more » The post How to Manage Work-Related PTSD appeared first on Noobpreneur.com.

China is funding the future of American biotech

Silicon Valley is in the midst of a health craze, and it is being driven by “Eastern” medicine. It’s been a record year for US medical investing, but investors in Beijing and Shanghai are now increasingly leading the largest deals for US life science and biotech companies. In fact, Chinese venture firms have invested more this year into life science and biotech in the US than they have back home, providing financing for over 300 US-based companies, per Pitchbook. That’s the story at Viela Bio, a Maryland-based company exploring treatments for inflammation and autoimmune diseases, which raised a $250 million Series A led by three Chinese firms. Chinese capital’s newfound appetite also flows into the mainland. Business is booming for Chinese medical startups, who are also seeing the strongest year of venture investment ever, with over one hundred companies receiving $4 billion in investment. As Chinese investors continue to shift their strategies towards life science and biotech, China is emphatically positioning itself to be a leader in medical investing with a growing influence on the world’s future major health institutions. Chinese VCs seek healthy returns We like to talk about things we can interact with or be entertained by. And so as nine-figure checks flow in and out of China with stunning regularity, we fixate on the internet giants, the gaming leaders or the latest media platform backed by Tencent or Alibaba. However, if we follow the money, it’s clear that the top venture firms in China have actually been turning their focus towards the country’s deficient health system. A clear leader in China’s strategy shift has been Sequoia Capital China, one of the country’s most heralded venture firms tied to multiple billion-dollar IPOs just this year. Historically, Sequoia didn’t have much interest in the medical sector.  Health was one of the firm’s smallest investment categories, and it participated in only three health-related deals from 2015-16, making up just 4% of its total investing activity.  Recently, however, life sciences have piqued Sequoia’s fascination, confirms a spokesperson with the firm.  Sequoia dove into six health-related deals in 2017 and has already participated in 14 in 2018 so far.  The firm…

Future Family raises $10M to make fertility treatments more affordable

Future Family, a startup that helps families more easily afford fertility services like IVF and egg freezing, has raised $10 million in a Series A round. Just weeks back, Future Family switched up its offerings to feel less like a loan, and more like a monthly subscription. The end results might seem pretty similar — with both, customers get the services they need without having to cough up a big pile of cash up front — but the monthly subscription approach has a big advantage: flexibility. If a customer realizes a few months in that additional fertility services are needed, the cost can just be wrapped right into the monthly plan on the fly. The company’s fertility offerings start at $195 a month (for 60 months) for a plan that pairs you with a clinic and concierge to help you start navigating, while $250 a month (for 60 months) covers the cost of lab work, medication, clinic visits and the IVF procedure. Future Family CEO Claire Tomkins tells me that this Series A will largely go toward expanding their monthly subscription offerings, as well as expanding the number of fertility clinics they partner with. The company had previously raised around $4.2 million. Future Family was born out of Claire Tomkins’ own experiences with the complexities and costs of fertility treatments. After spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on treatments involved with having her first child (with much of the cost coming as a surprise only revealed once the process had begun), Claire set out to build a better way. Future Family partners with clinics to work out all the pricing ahead of time and pays the bill upfront, ensuring there are no billing surprises down the road. This round was led by Aspect Ventures, and backed by iNovia, BBG, Ulu Ventures, LaunchCapital and Portfolia. As part of the deal, Aspect Venture’s Lauren Kolodny will join Future Family’s board of directors.

Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global is teaming up with Zenefits

Many are familiar with Arianna Huffington’s personal journey from media mogul to outspoken sleep advocate. In April 2007 she collapsed, broke her cheekbone and woke up in a pool of blood, a well-publicized accident she attributes to sleep deprivation and exhaustion. In the years that followed, she shifted her focus to wellness, authoring two books on the topic: Thrive and The Sleep Revolution, and later founded a corporate services and media company called Thrive Global. Thrive, which bills itself as a “behavior change” startup, helps businesses help their employees develop healthy relationships with technology and manage stress and burnout — issues with which Huffington is personally familiar. The company has raised nearly $43 million in venture capital funding to date, at a $121.5 million valuation as of May. Today, Thrive is announcing a new partnership with Zenefits, the provider of software that helps small- and medium-sized business (SMBs) manage human resources, though is still often known for a series of regulatory and compliance issues that led to the exit of its founding chief executive, Parker Conrad. The partnership will make available to employees of the 11,000 businesses that use Zenefits human resources software Thrive content, tips and tools within the Zenefits platform, and managers will be able to use the Thrive app to track and measure employee well-being. “People are sleep deprived; people are eating the wrong food,” Huffington told TechCrunch. “It’s very basic things we can change through behavior that affect the bottom line of a company.” “When you give employees science-based micro steps — that’s how change happens,” she added. “You need little nudges to help you change your behavior.” Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global raises $30M so you can work less and sleep more Thrive educational content focuses on sleep, humans’ relationship with technology, goal setting and other issues that pertain to physical and mental health. Huffington and Jay Fulcher, Zenefits CEO, told TechCrunch this arrangement was a year in the making. Zenefits tapped Fulcher, the former CEO of Ooyala and Agile Software, as CEO last year. He was the third CEO in the span of 12 months after Conrad was ousted and…

Teeth-straightening startup SmileDirectClub is now worth $3.2 billion

SmileDirectClub, the at-home teeth-straightening startup, has just raised $380 million at a $3.2 billion valuation, the company announced today. Investors from Clayton, Dubilier & Rice led the round, which featured participation from Kleiner Perkins and Spark Capital. This funding comes on top of Align Technology’s $46.7 million investment in SmileDirectClub in 2016, and another $12.8 million investment in 2017 to own a total of 19 percent of the company. “We are very excited with the outcome of our most recent fundraising round,” SmileDirectClub co-founder Alex Fenkell said in a statement. “Our mission has always been to provide an affordable and convenient option to anyone who wants to transform their smile. We are excited to continue our growth into new spaces and be given the incredible opportunity to reach even more people with our life-changing service,” said Fenkell. “We can’t wait to see what the future holds and are grateful for the support from our new investors.” SmileDirectClub is a direct-to-consumer teeth-aligner startup that started with the idea of using teledentistry to virtually connect licensed dentists and orthodontists with people who want to straighten their teeth. Since its inception in 2014, SmileDirectClub says it has helped more than 300,000 people straighten and brighten their teeth. The company ships invisible aligners directly to customers, and licensed dental professionals (either orthodontists or general dentists) remotely monitor the progress of the patient. Before shipping the aligners, patients either take their dental impressions at home and send them to SmileDirectClub or visit one of the company’s “SmileShops” to be scanned in person. SmileDirectClub says it costs 60 percent less than other types of teeth-straightening treatments, with the length of treatments ranging from four to 14 months. The average treatment lasts six months. Though, members of the American Association of Orthodontists have taken issue with SmileDirectClub, previously asserting that SmileDirectClub violates the law because its methods of allowing people to skip in-person visits and X-rays is “illegal and creates medical risks.” The organization has also filed complaints against SmileDirectClub in 36 states, alleging violations of statutes and regulations governing the practice of dentistry. Those complaints were filed with the regulatory boards that oversee dentistry practices and with the attorneys general of each…

Siilo injects $5.1M to try to transplant WhatsApp use in hospitals

Consumer messaging apps like WhatsApp are not only insanely popular for chatting with friends but have pushed deep into the workplace too, thanks to the speed and convenience they offer. They have even crept into hospitals, as time-strapped doctors reach for a quick and easy way to collaborate over patient cases on the ward. Yet WhatsApp is not specifically designed with the safe sharing of highly sensitive medical information in mind. This is where Dutch startup Siilo has been carving a niche for itself for the past 2.5 years — via a free-at-the-point-of-use encrypted messaging app that’s intended for medical professions to securely collaborate on patient care, such as via in-app discussion groups and being able to securely store and share patient notes. A business goal that could be buoyed by tighter EU regulations around handling personal data, say if hospital managers decide they need to address compliance risks around staff use of consumer messaging apps. The app’s WhatsApp-style messaging interface will be instantly familiar to any smartphone user. But Siilo bakes in additional features for its target healthcare professional users, such as keeping photos, videos and files sent via the app siloed in an encrypted vault that’s entirely separate from any personal media also stored on the device. Messages sent via Siilo are also automatically deleted after 30 days unless the user specifies a particular message should be retained. And the app does not make automated back-ups of users’ conversations. Other doctor-friendly features include the ability to blur images (for patient privacy purposes); augment images with arrows for emphasis; and export threaded conversations to electronic health records. There’s also mandatory security for accessing the app — with a requirement for either a PIN-code, fingerprint or facial recognition biometric to be used. While a remote wipe functionality to nix any locally stored data is baked into Siilo in the event of a device being lost or stolen. Like WhatsApp, Siilo also uses end-to-end encryption — though in its case it says this is based on the opensource NaCl library It also specifies that user messaging data is stored encrypted on European ISO-27001 certified servers — and…

Former Uber exec Andrew Chapin takes the wraps off his stealth mental health startup

One can only imagine what it was like to work at Uber in the years leading up to Susan Fowler’s infamous blog post. Many of the company’s leaders were said to be overly competitive, sexist and inappropriate — “brilliant jerks,” as Arianna Huffington once said, — and its over-arching “move fast and break things” mentality hardly left room for employees to take a step back and reflect on how the company’s culture was impacting their mental health. Andrew Chapin joined Uber in 2011 as one of its first hires in New York. He worked his way up to head of vehicle solutions and established Uber’s vehicle finance program, which helps drivers obtain and pay off car leases. He says the struggles within the company gave him severe anxiety, something he was all too familiar with from his stint as a commodities trader at Goldman Sachs. “There were days when I was walking through lower Manhattan and thinking if I got hit by a car and was in the hospital for a week, it’d be better than going to work,” Chapin told TechCrunch. At both Goldman and Uber, Chapin would go through rough patches but resisted therapy, in part because of the outlandish costs but mostly because of the hassle. Toward the end of his five-year Uber tenure, he realized the dire need for accessible and flexible tech-enabled tools to help workers endure stressful times, as well as the need to destigmatize the mental health issues prevalent within the tech industry and beyond. In late 2016, he left Uber to build his own startup. Two years later, he’s ready to share what he’s been working on. Basis, an app meant to help people cope with anxiety, depression and other mental health issues through guided conversations via chat or video, is emerging from stealth today with a $3.75 million investment led by Bedrock. Wave Capital and Lightspeed Venture Partners have also participated in the round. Investors are waking up to the emotional struggle of startup founders “Looking back at the Goldman experience of just kind of wallowing in this unpleasant situation, [Basis] would have been an…

uBiome is jumping into therapeutics with a healthy $83 million in Series C financing

23andMe, IBM and now uBiome is the next tech company to jump into the lucrative multi-billion dollar drug discovery market. The company started out with a consumer gut health test to check whether your intestines carry the right kind of bacteria for healthy digestion but has since expanded to include over 250,000 samples for everything from the microbes on your skin to vaginal health — the largest data set in the world for these types of samples, according to the company. Founder Jessica Richman now says there’s a wider opportunity to use this data to create value in therapeutics. To support its new drug discovery efforts, the San Francisco-based startup will be moving its therapeutics unit into new Cambridge, Massachusetts headquarters and appointing former Novartis CEO Joseph Jimenez to the board of directors as well. The company has a healthy pile of cash to help build out that new HQ, too, with a fresh $83 million Series C, lead by OS Fund and in participation with 8VC, Y Combinator, Dentsu Ventures and others. The drug discovery market is slated to be worth nearly $86 billion by 2022, according to BCC Research numbers. New technologies — those that solve logistics issues and shorten the time between research and getting a drug to market in particular — are driving the growth and that’s where uBiome thinks it can get into the game. “This financing allows us to expand our product portfolio, increase our focus on patent assets and further raise our clinical profile, especially as we begin to focus on commercialization of drug discovery and development of our patent assets,” Richman said. Though its unclear at this time which drug maker the company might partner up with, Richman did say there would be plenty to announce later on that front. So far, the company has published over 30 peer-reviewed papers on microbiome research, has entered into research partnerships with the likes of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and leading research institutions such as Harvard, MIT and Stanford and has previously raised $22 million in funding. The additional VC cash puts the…

‘Brotopia’ inspired OODA Health to raise its $40.5M round only from firms with female partners

It’s never particularly easy to raise a round of venture capital — but I think most experienced founders will tell you it’s not quite as bad the second or third time around, when you’ve got some experience under your belt and a track record to present to VCs. It helps if you’re male too, at least according to all the data out there on the gender funding gap in VC. The leadership team at OODA Health, a startup developing technology to make the U.S. healthcare payment system more efficient, is both male and experienced. But unlike most companies of that nature, OODA decided to raise money for the business only from VC firms that have at least one female leader, a solution to one of tech’s greatest problems that is oft suggested and rarely executed. “‘Brotopia’ really hit me hard,” OODA Health co-founder and CEO Giovanni Colella told TechCrunch. In “Brotopia,” sex parties are the least of Silicon Valley’s problems Colella is the founder and former CEO of Castlight Health, which raised nearly $200 million in VC funding before going public on the NYSE in 2014. Co-founder, COO and president Seth Cohen is Castlight’s former VP of sales and alliances and co-founder and CTO Usama Fayyad is the former global chief data officer at Barclays and Yahoo. The trio ultimately landed on lead investors Annie Lamont of Oak HC/FT and Emily Melton of DFJ, both of which have joined the company’s board of directors. “We have a responsibility of setting an example,” Colella said. “There is no machismo in what we’ve done. We are not better than you because we did it. We were blessed. We had more investors that wanted to invest than we could accommodate.” Though the company’s C-suite is occupied by men, Cohen and Colella were quick to clarify that other members of their founding team, head of operations Julie Skaff, head of product Sophie Pinkard and director of product strategy Midori Uehara, are women. The team began working on OODA Health last year after Colella and Cohen agreed to build something that would upend the healthcare…

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