Like any effective manager heading up a group of smart, ambitious entrepreneurs, Jenna Rose is always on the lookout for ways to improve her network. A passion for studying the causes, patterns, and effects, of health disease, worldwide, led Rose to a career of research in several developing countries, including Kenya and Liberia. Now, she works in Chicago.
Rose is the director at Healthbox — a startup accelerator for emerging companies focused on healthcare. What makes her different from others who lead non health-oriented accelerators, is that she’s working to influence a heavily regulated, trillion dollar industry with some of the newest and smallest players in the market. She leads Healthbox’s startup accelerators in several cities across the U.S. — including the accelerator in Chicago’s West Loop.
Heathbox is a startup venture whose goal is to bring industry leaders in health care together with health care entrepreneurs to accelerate startups in a supportive environment and, ultimately, create industry-wide change. Participating entrepreneurs receive four months of training, access to an ever expanding network of industry leaders, and mentorship. They also receive a $50-thousand investment to grow their budding companies.
In an industry that has been dominated by competitive conglomerates, Healthbox has created an environment for collaboration. Rather than a model where the industry standard is for all innovation to be driven by large pharmaceutical companies, the Healthbox model nurtures very small companies — startups — to innovate within a supportive community of different heath care organizations, hospitals, and insurance providers.
The Healthbox model has found traction. Last year, Healthbox ran startup accelerator programs in Chicago, Boston, and London. This year, the company has already run a second accelerator in Boston and announced the launch of two new accelerators in Jacksonville and Nashville. A second accelerator in Chicago will begin sometime this fall. Each accelerator is produced with industry support from established heath care companies such as Ascension Health, Bayer HealthCare, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Walgreens.
“I think one of the biggest values that Healthbox provides to an early stage healthcare startup is the industry network that we’ve created over the course of the program,” says Rose. “Healthcare is a very complicated industry and as an entrepreneur it can be difficult to find the right people and the right organizations to really support your company’s growth and so by coming in to Healthbox and being part of our network you have access to an incredible depth of healthcare leaders who really believe in the power of innovation.”
Rose says that the knowledge accrued over the course of operations, as far as what works and what doesn’t work, truly benefits the first time entrepreneur — or a first time entrepreneur in healthcare.
In fact, two Chicago-area companies have moved from the accelerator into the portfolio: SwipeSense, which manufactures hand hygiene dispensers, and PUSH Wellness, a progress-based wellness incentive provider. Other members of the Chicago accelerator’s inaugural class, in which Healthbox has equity, include Cara Health, a company offering data analytics through machine learning in Dublin, Ireland; SwiftPay MD, a mobile billing solution based in Norcross GA; and CouponDoc, a platform for accessing manufacturer discounts, located in New York City.
“We’re looking for companies that are taking novel approaches and using technology in fascinating ways to solve some of the biggest challenges that have been in healthcare for a long time, ” says Rose. “We think that there is a lot of opportunities right now for healthcare to become more affordable, more accessible and to create better outcomes.”
Ultimately, the goal is to enable their entrepreneurs to grow sustainable, successful, businesses so that they can make that impact. It is also why Healthbox works with industry leaders.
Healthbox is part of Sandbox Industries, a company established to create new businesses, where the motto is ‘Create, Explore, Invest.’
For Rose, the best part of the job is seeing working with a new batch of truly passionate, and motivated, healthcare entrepreneurs. And, seeing what new innovations they bring to the world. ❒