(Photo by Flickr user frankieleon, used under a Creative Commons license)
WellDoc’s $29.5 million funding round made a splash earlier this year. A Samsung-led initial close of $22 million was only bolstered by another $7.5 million and a new partnership with Johnson & Johnson.
Following the deals, the company sought out executives with healthcare business experience, said CEO Kevin McRaith. Execs hired in the first half of 2016 include:
- Jeff Lehrfield, the company’s CFO, joined from Magellan Health
- Tara Charavat, the company’s CMO, came over from Valeritas
- Nick Harsh, Vice President for Market Access, was part of AstraZeneca’s management team
- Christina Hedge, executive director for market access, previously worked at CareFirst BlueCross Blue Shield and Kaiser Permanente
The hires are a sign of new areas of focus for a company that is aiming to scale. Charavat has specific experience with marketing and diabetes, as the company looks to expand its visibility. The two hires in Market Access, by turn, are tasked with navigating payments and reimbursements from larger healthcare companies, McRaith said.
At the same time, the company continues to shape its partnerships, integrating into existing Samsung and Johnson & Johnson platforms.
For a startup like WellDoc, “you need these large strategic partners that will allow you to scale effectively,” McRaith said. Syncing up the speeds and structures of the large companies with a small startup has been part of the integration, he said.
WellDoc continues to develop its BlueStar app, which helps patients and doctors manage Type 2 diabetes. A recent study showing BlueStar’s use with lay coaches that was featured at the American Diabetes Association’s Scientific Sessions in June indicates the validation process continues.
But in already-hot digital health space, the company is looking to move quickly to scale.
“We’re really excited and focused on what the opportunity is in front of us,” McRaith said.
To consumers, the app stands out as unique in that it is prescribed by a doctor. From a business perspective, McRaith identified three advantages to cut through the noise:
- Outcomes have been proven in peer-reviewed clinical trials
- It received FDA clearance
- An established reimbursement mechanism
“Those three aspects of a digital health product, we were the first — and only still — that have all of those,” he said.
The growth of the product and the funding doesn’t necessarily mean an explosion of people and expectations. McRaith said the team’s current size of around 30 employees in its Baltimore offices near Penn Station and another 30 workers in Bangalore is ideal to remain “nimble.” Big growth in tech often leads to talk of potential exits, but McRaith said he is only focused on growing the business, making the right decisions around the product and the partnerships the company is establishing.
“What that turns into as far as an exit is not a focus of mine,” he said.-30-
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