20 Healthcare Startups to Watch

by Josh Howarth - May 5, 2021

The healthcare industry’s future is digital. More and more commonly, companies in this space are leveraging emerging technologies and innovative care delivery methods to provide more targeted treatments that meet patients where they are. With the rise of COVID-19 in 2020, the increased use of data and growing acceptance of telehealth have only accelerated.

In this article, we’ll profile 20 healthcare companies that are revolutionizing healthcare by introducing new inventions, targeting specific health needs, and providing care in new and innovative ways.

1. Meru Health

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5-year search growth: 100%

Search growth status: Peaked

Year founded: 2016

Location: San Mateo, California; Helsinki, Finland

Funding: $13.3M (Series A)

What they do: Meru Health is a healthcare company focused on providing individuals with mental health resources in the form of an online program supported by individual therapy and support groups. In 2019, the company launched a biofeedback device to help people learn how to control their breathing. Slack, Y Combinator, and others contributed a total of $8.1M in their most recent Series A funding round in 2020.

2. nference

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5-year search growth: 2,800%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2013

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Funding: $145M (Series C)

What they do: nference aims to help healthcare professionals leverage insights from vast quantities of existing biomedical knowledge through their software. According to nference CEO/co-founder Murali Aravamudan, the company was created in order “to improve patient outcomes by unlocking insights in biomedical data while protecting individual patient privacy.” Based in biotechnology hub Cambridge, this company has received investments from a number of companies, including Mayo Clinic Ventures, the investment arm of Mayo Clinic, which has partnered with nference on their Clinical Data Analytics Platform.

3. Komodo Health

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5-year search growth: 100%

Search growth status: Peaked

Year founded: 2014

Location: San Francisco, California

Funding: $314M (Series E)

What they do: Komodo Health uses its “Healthcare Map” and related technology to follow millions of patient healthcare journeys, with the primary objective of bettering the quality and application of care in the medical ecosystem. The technology company acquired cloud computing business Mavens in early 2021 to increase the capabilities of their software platform.

4. SonderMind

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5-year search growth: 99X+

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2014

Location: Denver, Colorado

Funding: $33M (Series B)

What they do: SonderMind offers technology that pairs individuals with therapists that meet their individual mental health needs. Features of their platform include quick matching and schedule coordination for individuals and administrative tools to help therapists provide services and engage with patients. Co-founders Sean Boyd and Mark Frank started SonderMind based on their experiences with the clinician and patient sides of a flawed mental healthcare system.

5. Wellframe

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5-year search growth: 5,300%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2011

Location: Boston, Massachusetts

Funding: $45.2M (Series C)

What they do: Wellframe helps healthcare professionals extend crucial care to their patients through technology once they leave the hospital or clinic. The platform features chat functionality, task management capabilities, and personalized content programs. The company secured the financial assistance of BlueCross BlueShield’s investment arm in a 2019 $20 million Series C funding round.

6. embleema

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5-year search growth: 1,600%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2017

Location: New York City, New York

Funding: $3.7M (Series A)

What they do: embleema’s secure network gives patients control of their own medical information, allowing them to share access to it with healthcare clinicians and scientists and receive cryptocurrency payments for it if they wish. In 2019, healthcare IT company Pharmagest Group gained 15% ownership of the blockchain startup with hopes to expand healthcare options for their European customer base.

7. Headspace

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5-year search growth: 96%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2010

Location: Santa Monica, California

Funding: $215.9M (Series C)

What they do: Headspace is a meditation and wellness app that provides users with guided meditations, resources to promote better sleep, and more. Former Buddhist month Andy Puddicombe and Richard Pierson, who came from an advertising background, founded the company in 2010. Since its inception, the company has gained over $200M in investments and has been leveraged by researchers in multiple clinical trials.

8. Modern Fertility

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5-year search growth: 650%

Search growth status: Exploding

Year founded: 2017

Location: San Francisco, California

Funding: $22M (Series A)

What they do: Modern Fertility focuses on the female healthcare space, bringing women unprecedented access to reproductive health and fertility tests. Co-founders Afton Vechery and Carly Leahy started the company after witnessing the expensive and hard-to-access resources for female fertility testing. Kirsten Green of Forerunner Ventures, the leader in a Series A funding round, joined the company’s board in 2019, adding her experience crafting B2C brands, such as Warby Parker, Glossier, and Dollar Shave Club.

9. Novoic

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5-year search growth: 3,200%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2019

Location: London, England

Funding: $2.68M (Seed)

What they do: Novoic aims to achieve earlier detection of neurological diseases through their AI-driven technology, which can detect variances in speech patterns that surface in individuals who experience Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and other diseases years later. Their initial seed funding round brought in £2M from APEX Ventures, Anthemis Exponential Ventures, and others.

10. Aunt Bertha

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5-year search growth: 2,400%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2010

Location: Austin, Texas

Funding: $22M (Series C)

What they do: Aunt Bertha is a technology platform that helps to match people with social services resources that fit their unique needs. The company’s network now includes 1,000+ social services options in every U.S. county and has helped over 4M users since its 2010 inception. Founder Erine Gray, who has a Public Affairs Master’s degree and experience as a developer and city project manager, first experienced an inefficient social services system as a child watching his mother struggle to get care after a brain-damaging case of encephalitis.

11. Paige.ai

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5-year search growth: 96%

Search growth status: Peaked

Year founded: 2018

Location: New York City, New York

Funding: $220M (Series C)

What they do: Paige uses AI technology to fight the growth of cancer diagnoses and a simultaneous drop in trained pathologists. Their AI technology helps to provide medical workers with the data they need to precisely diagnose occurrences of cancer and assists companies in the life sciences space with producing better therapies. Their board includes professionals from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Yale University School of Medicine, and other institutions.

12. Beddr

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5-year search growth: 2,700%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2016

Location: Mountain View, California

Funding: $5.6M (Series A)

What they do: Beddr is a sleep health company that helps people understand and treat their sleep issues with the Sleep Tuner, a medical wearable, plus coaching, sleep tests, and more. The company has received multiple commendations, including being named “Sleep Monitoring Solution of the Year” in the 2020 IoT Breakthrough Awards. This year, the company completed a Series A funding round with contributions from Three Leaf Ventures (lead investor), Delta Dental Washington Seed Fund, and others.

13. Lyra Health

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5-year search growth: 350%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2015

Location: Burlingame, California

Funding: $480M+ (Series E)

What they do: Lyra Health is a healthcare platform that helps employers provide their employees with mental health resources. The unicorn startup, founded by Facebook’s former CFO David Ebersman, was valued at over $1B in 2020 after bringing in $110M from a list of investors that included former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz.

14. DispatchHealth

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5-year search growth: 2,166%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2013

Location: Denver, Colorado

Funding: $417M+ (Series D)

What they do: DispatchHealth provides in-home healthcare services. Through the company’s app, website, or by phone, patients can request home medical visits for issues that are urgent or otherwise, after which a trained medical team will arrive at the location and offer the necessary treatment. This year, Dispatch Health brought in $200M in funding and expanded its services to deliver at-home radiology.

15. VillageMD

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5-year search growth: 520%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2013

Location: Chicago, Illinois

Funding: $491M (Corporate)

What they do: VillageMD is a primary care healthcare company that helps doctors provide better, more cost-effective treatment for their patients through the right combination of operational support and technology. VillageMD entered into a partnership with Walgreens in 2020 when the pharmacy company invested $1B in VillageMD to build out a network of medical clinics available within Walgreens locations.

16. PlushCare

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5-year search growth: 516%

Search growth status: Exploding

Year founded: 2015

Location: San Francisco, California

Funding: $31M (Acquired)

What they do: PlushCare is a telehealth company connecting patients with doctors to address physical and mental health needs. The company boasts phone-based care, $99 appointments, and a network of trained medical professionals. Accolade, a business based on guiding patients through healthcare options, recently acquired PlushCare after the two companies partnered to provide COVID-19 focused care in 2020.

17. TytoCare

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5-year search growth: 300%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2012

Location: New York City, New York; Netanya, Israel

Funding: $156.7M (Series D)

What they do: TytoCare offers telehealth services powered by artificial intelligence. Their platform enables patients to receive complete medical examinations, plus diagnoses and prescriptions, from home. The recent increase in demand for telehealth services powered TytoCare’s growth in 2020 and caused a considerable revenue increase. TytoCare achieved more financial milestones in 2021 with a $50M investment round and soaring valuation.

18. Breathe99

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5-year search growth: 1,900%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2018

Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Funding: $600K+ (Kickstarter & Philanthropic Organizations)

What they do: Breathe99 is the company behind the B2 Mask, a sleek, easy-to-wear respirator mask. The company, whose mask can be used to protect the wearer from allergens, pollution, and more, has only received funding through Kickstarter and philanthropic loans thus far but is eyeing FDA authorization. As of this article, Breathe99 had raised nearly half a million dollars on Kickstarter.

19. PatientPop

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5-year search growth: 500%

Search growth status: Peaked

Year founded: 2014

Location: Santa Monica, California

Funding: $125M (Series C)

What they do: PatientPop offers a technology platform for healthcare practices to market their services, grow their patient base, track online sentiment around their company, provide more streamlined patient experiences, and more. PatientPop was founded by Luke Kervin and Travis Schneider, who previously worked together at ShopNation and StarBrand Media, both of which were later acquired by large media companies.

20. Hinge Health

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5-year search growth: 99X+

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2014

Location: San Francisco, California

Funding: $425.8M (Series D)

What they do: Hinge Health is a healthcare company in the musculoskeletal space that delivers at-home physical therapy services through wearable body tracking devices and virtual communication with physical therapists and other healthcare professionals. Hinge concluded a $300M funding round in early 2021 as is now valued at $3B.

Conclusion

Among these 20 companies, there are clear trends that stand out. The first trend is an increased focus on mental health care, which coincides with a growing rate of mental illnesses and related concerns.

The second trend centers around the idea of more convenient healthcare options, including telehealth, at-home health, and accessible healthcare. According to McKinsey & Company data, telehealth usage has grown 35% since 2019, largely prompted by the coronavirus pandemic. If this trend continues, the telehealth sector could be worth as much as $250 billion.

In light of these societal shifts and an overall move toward the digitization of healthcare, these 20 healthcare startups and others like them have the potential to influence health and wellness in a big way.

Written By
Josh Howarth
Co-founder of Exploding Topics.
548 Market St. Suite 95149
San Francisco, California
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