Airstrip Picks Sequoia For First VC Investment

Airstrip announced the round — its first outside funding — this week, and although neither Airstrip nor Sequoia will discuss the details, including the amount, you can bet this was a competitive investment.

Co-founder and president Dr. Cameron Powell says Airstrip has been working on the funding — and the FDA clearance it got last month for its remote patient monitoring technology — for years.

He also says there’s been a lot of interest in Airstrip from investors. Two VCs (neither one of them from Sequoia) have singled out the company to me recently as being interesting.

Another Airstrip fan is Apple — Apple CEO Steve Jobs featured Airstrip’s technology onstage last year at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference, which Powell says posed a challenge for the startup because it opened  “floodgates of interest” that had to be handled and sorted through.

By that time, Airstrip was about six years old. It started in a Starbucks, Powell says, after a software programmer whom he’d never met, Trey Moore, approached him after church one Sunday in the parking lot and asked if they could talk.

At the Starbucks, Moore asked Powell, an ob-gyn who’d just finished his residency training, what he would do with a mobile device if he could do anything he wanted.

Powell said he wanted to be able to monitor a mom’s contractions and her baby’s heart rate during delivery at any time, from anywhere. “That would revolutionize my practice, and it would help nurses and help improve outcomes.” he says he told Moore.

So Moore, who’s now Airstrip’s chief technology officer, and others designed a software platform that lets them rapidly develop applications that run natively (which Powell says is the cause of the excitement about Airstrip) on any mobile device. The software also collects data about patients and translates it to the devices — the squiggly lines you see in the picture above could represent a heart rate, a brain tracing, a mother’s contractions or several other medical events.

Airstrip can be used in hospitals — obstetrics, intensive care units, operating rooms and so on — and, with the FDA clearance, at home.

Powell calls Moore “a genius. I’m just a doctor,” he says.

Although Airstrip supports all mobile devices, most of its business in the U.S. is on the iPhone, and Moore adds that the iPad is also being adopted in hospitals fast. He says doctors and nurses are blending their personal and professional lives — you can level a picture using the iPhone, and now you can monitor a baby’s heart rate too.

Powell’s goals are to make Airstrip the “Intel Inside” for mobile monitoring of patients and to take the technology to places like Africa, where infrastructure for computers and medical care is scarce but cell phones are plentiful.

Airstrip will use Sequoia’s investment to expand domestically and globally and to boost research and development, Powell says. Scott Carter is the Sequoia VC in charge.