In the white-hot incubator space, social activist Halle Tecco, who’s graduating from Harvard Business School in the spring, is preparing to launch a San Francisco-based incubator focused on developing industrial strength applications in mobile healthcare.
Tecco (pictured) said her incubator, Rock Health, would be loosely modeled on Y Combinator, which a couple of weeks ago announced that Yuri Milner and Ron Conway’s angel fund SV Angel would give each startup in Y Combinator’s current class, or about 40 companies, $150,000. In addition, angel investor Dave McClure has also joined the incubator trend with the unveiling of his 500 Startups Accelerator.
Tecco aims to launch her project this summer.
“Our theory is that there’s really a gap in the market,” Tecco told Venture Capital Journal Contributor Tom York. “Yet, VCs are really interested in investing in mobile health.”
Tecco developed an expertise in the area, having worked as a business development intern in mobile health applications in Apple’s App Store.
Supporting her efforts are several VC firms and investors, including Accel Partners and Bob Higgins from Highland Capital Partners and a third VC firm, which she declined to disclose. She told VCJ she will reveal the names of the remaining partners name of the firm later this spring. (Editor’s Note: in the original text, we listed that there would be just three VC-related partners. But Halle Tecco says more partnerships are in the works, including VCs, hospitals and others. Partnerships will be announced next month.)
Ping Li, a partner at Accel who‘s has been working with Tecco to set up Rock Health, said healthcare is a large, untapped market for mobile applications, given that the sector represents 17% of U.S. economic activity.
With the exploding adoption rates of smart phones among medical practitioners, there is growing interest among investors in using them as a platform for health technology applications, Li told VCJ.
“We’re excited about getting an ecosystem in place and entrepreneurial activity going,” he said. “There are a lot of inefficiencies in the healthcare, and technology has been able to solve a lot of inefficiencies in other industries.”
Selected entrepreneurs will become Rock Health Fellows and gain access to medical expertise and testing, mentorship and funding. Furthermore, Tecco said she’ll supply the work space. The VC partners will fund entrepreneurs selected to become Rock Health Fellows. The amount of funding will vary for each, and Tecco said she’ll supply the work space and access to experts in various areas of technology. (Editor’s Note: Halle Tecco says the funding structure of the startups at Rock Health is still under discussion, but that the VCs and others involved will serve as advisors and may opt to continue funding the companies and help introduce the entrepreneurs to other possible sources of funding.)
The incubator will operate as a nonprofit, but get most of its funding from corporate sponsorships, said Tecco. She’ll be announcing some of those sponsorships soon, she said.
Rock Health advisors include Jeff Tangney, co-founder and former COO at Epocates Inc., who is now CEO of Doximity Inc., which provides medical practitioners a private listing of colleagues via the iPhone. Epocates went public Feb. 2 in an $86 million offering. The share price rose 37% in the first day of trading.
Tecco said she’s hoping to find at least 12 candidates in her first matchmaking efforts, but said she’ll be “looking for quality more than for quantity,” so the number could be less.
She said she’ll target developers who have a good business idea or who are currently writing apps, but can’t afford to pursue development full-time.
“There needs to be more experimentation in the space,” she said. “Healthcare is very closed, and it is very intimidating.”
Tecco is founder and executive director at Yoga Bear, a nonprofit that promotes wellness for cancer patients through the practice of yoga. She has written for a number of national publications, including the Huffington Post and the Los Angeles Times.
Previously, she was a product manager at various consumer-Internet startups, including Enternships.com and Kiva.org, according to her biography on the Huffington Post website.