VITAband: Philly childhood friends develop cashless payments, medical record technology for wristbands

They say near-death experiences can be life-changing. For childhood friends Jason Brown and David Waxman, Brown’s close call inspired their startup: VITAband. The idea for VITAband, which licenses out technology that allows wristbands to carry medical records and prepaid debit chips for contactless payment, came to Brown five years ago, after nearly getting hit by […]

They say near-death experiences can be life-changing. For childhood friends Jason Brown and David Waxman, Brown’s close call inspired their startup: VITAband.

The idea for VITAband, which licenses out technology that allows wristbands to carry medical records and prepaid debit chips for contactless payment, came to Brown five years ago, after nearly getting hit by a car while out jogging. Now the company is getting national nods. Brown and Waxman were featured in this month’s issue of Entrepreneur magazine, VITAband-equipped watches recently sold out during an exclusive Gilt sale and the watches got mentions in men’s fashion blogs like GQ’s style blog and Uncrate. The hook: Who wants to carry a clunky wallet while out for a run?

Brown and Waxman both grew up in Philly and went to Quaker schools before leaving for college, though Waxman’s the only member of the 3-person team that lives in Philly –Rittenhouse Square, to be exact, where he grew up.

Brown, who grew up in Society Hill, lives in New York City (“We’ll hold that against him,” Waxman says), where he owns a music management firm called (you guys will like this) Philadelphonic and manages Philly blues outfit G. Love & Special Sauce (the pair grew up with G. Love). Waxman, 36, also works another full-time job, as a developer in Brewerytown with his firm MMPartners. The other member of the team, who handles licensing, lives in Cleveland. The rest of the work is outsourced, Waxman says.

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Waxman says the ultimate plan is to converge here, though he says he’s not that involved with the city’s tech scene because of time and a feeling that it’s sometimes insular.

“At some point, there’ll be a need for an office in Philly,” he says.

Since their launch in 2007, Brown, 40, and Waxman have raised more than $750,000, says Waxman. They put in $50,000 of their own money to start and the rest has come from angel investors, including, Waxman says, a family in Washington, D.C., that invests in technology. They finished a series A round last August.

What’s next? Waxman says the company is hoping to work its product into other markets, like for children or senior citizens. Maybe get the technology on iPhones or water bottles, he says.

Let’s hope it doesn’t take another near-death experience to make the next move.

Check out RumbaTime’s VITAband watches here. One will run you $50 with the first annual membership fee included. After that, it’s $9.95/year. You can also find VITAband wristbands by Nathan at local sports stores.

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