Cybersecurity / Health / Health tech / Startups

DreamIt Health alum Protenus ramps up after starting ‘from scratch’

Two former med students are now securing health data. Their startup has raised funding, secured early partners and plans a full launch in the next few months.

In his presentation at DreamIt's demo day last year, Protenus founder Robert Lord talked about the growing threat of data breaches in healthcare. (Screenshot via Ustream)

Nick Culbertson was a Green Beret. Robert Lord worked at a hedge fund in Connecticut. Then after a career change, both found themselves in medical school at Johns Hopkins University. But while there, the pair met and discovered a much greater need.
Their Canton startup Protenus, based in the Broom Factory, aims to secure electronic medical records by detecting and analyzing unauthorized access. Right now, its software is in beta with practitioners at Johns Hopkins HospitalJohns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center and as far away as Western Maryland and Washington.
“We’re working to get to a [minimum viable product] that’s more enterprise-ready by Q1 of 2015,” Lord said.
When the pair entered DreamIt Health last year, they had no idea what they were doing just yet.
“We were two medical students that applied to DreamIt not really with a clear project or company suggested,” Culbertson said. “We pretty much started from scratch [that] January.”

It was through DreamIt Health they connected with officials at Johns Hopkins Medicine.
“We’ve so far had some good feedback from our primary customers at Hopkins,” Lord said. “It’s a tremendous amount of research that goes into a project like this.”
While they’ve had early discussions with other clients, Hopkins was a tough enough task for the pair to tackle during the beta stage.

“We needed to focus down because Hopkins alone has a large amount of data. Hopkins is really seven different hospitals so we’re working with all their community hospitals and their outpatient clinics throughout,” Lord said. “It creates some unique and challenging opportunities.”

Until December, the seven-member Protenus team was mobile, working wherever needed. Now, they operate out of sparse office space that includes a Christmas tree and the occasional dog brought to work.
“You can see there’s no data stored here,” Lord said.
The spare digs also hide the capital at play with Protenus. The company recently closed a $1.2 million seed round and raised $100,000 from TEDCO’s Cybersecurity Investment Fund.

Companies: Protenus / Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine / DreamIt Health / TEDCO / Bio-Rad Laboratories
People: Robert Lord

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