Education / Venture capital

Comcast Ventures leads $4-million round in startup with Philly ties

With Comcast as its flagship customer and a Philly-based CEO in Accolade founder Tom Spann, Brightside sets out to provide employees with financial planning tools.

The startup looks to tackle the stress of financial woes. (Photo by Flickr user Pictures of Money, used under a Creative Commons license)

Montco-based Tom Spann, founder and vice chair of connected healthcare company Accolade, launched a new venture in a similar space: Brightside, which is focused on reducing the toll of “financial stress” on employees.

Spann has rallied support from Comcast’s venture capital arm, Comcast Ventures, which announced on Monday it led a $4 million seed round in Brightside with participation from Menlo Park, Calif.-based Trinity Ventures. (Comcast Ventures is based in San Francisco.)

For employers, Brightside promises to reduce absences while boosting productivity and retention rates. The sell for employees is having access to financial planning and “financial products that are personalized and make direct impact on the net income,” per the company’s website.

Spann, who left the Accolade CEO seat in 2015, told the move to the new venture made sense because of the impact that stressing over finances can have on companies.

“At Accolade, I saw families we served have their financial situation get in the way of  getting healthcare,” Spann said on the phone from Las Vegas. “Financial stress drives absenteeism.”

The company officially came out of stealth Monday at the HLTH conference in Las Vegas. It employs around 15 staffers and has hubs in Phoenix and San Francisco. For now, Spann said, no Philly office is planned.

The founding team is stacked with execs in areas related to the field, starting with another Philly-based exec: Comcast’s Shawn Levitt, head of Comcast benefits, helped co-found the company and secure Comcast as Brightside’s flagship customer Also on the team is Callum King from Comcast Ventures. The investment firm’s managing director, Michael Yang, is part of the board of directors.

Yang said in an email he believes financial health is the next frontier in employer health, and corporations want to address the trifecta of physical, behavioral and financial health for their workforce.

“Brightside is the outgrowth of a deep collaboration between Comcast Ventures and the Comcast Total Rewards team to create a new venture to fill a gap in the marketplace,” Yang said on Monday. “Comcast not only innovates with its products and services, but it also innovates in its business processes and functions. Comcast Ventures not only invests in start-ups from early to late stage, but it also creates and incubates start-ups from scratch.”


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