UC Berkeley

Medinas Health: A LAUNCH Success Story

We caught up with Medinas Health CEO Chloe Alpert to talk about the progress the company has made since graduating the LAUNCH program last year and her key learnings thus far.

Medinas has big plans to dramatically reduce waste in the US healthcare system by creating a reseller marketplace for hospital and healthcare equipment. They believe this is a 700 billion dollar opportunity and investors are buying in to the Medinas mission as well. Since launching in 2017, they have done 1 million dollars in sales and have already helped hospital clients save millions of dollars. They were one of the one of the winners of the LAUNCH Demo day last Spring and also participated in Y-Combinator’s accelerator program that same year.

Chloe breaks down her lessons learned from LAUNCH and her advice to the upcoming LAUNCH cohort below.  Pay attention, this company just won 1 million dollars in January at WeWork’s Global Creator Awards Finals and has already raised an astonishing 5 million dollars pre-Series A!.

You have founded a few companies already, what motivated you to participate in the LAUNCH program?

I have done LAUNCH twice; first with another company in 2014 and then again in 2018. The first time I did LAUNCH, I had no understanding of what a venture backed company looked like. LAUNCH prepared me. The second time around was humbling for us. We thought we already knew everything that would be in the curriculum, but we got lazy and LAUNCH pounded us again with the fundamentals. For instance, we had done a landscape, but we hadn’t updated it in six months. The LAUNCH program held us to task by reminding us to talk to twice as many users as we normally do and constantly re-address our strategy.

Three key lessons learned?

People need to get down to one sentence about what their company does. Great businesses have focus; if you have too many “ands” in your mission statement, your business isn’t going to get off the ground. LAUNCH helped give us a framework to say “no” to things.

Stack rank the pains of your users to help you make decisions.  

Starting a company has become “very cool” these days, but it is also a lot of hard work. It is very useful to have a group of supportive peers going through similar problems as you are while building your company.

Advice to the upcoming cohort of LAUNCH founders:

Use these accelerators as part of your fundraising strategy. The VC decision making process at early stages is largely based on limited data, signaling effects and some emotional decision making. If you can become a top company at one of these accelerators (e.g. LAUNCH, YC, 500 Startups), you can have some signaling effects with investors who are worried about missing out on the next rocketship.

Use data to help them back up that emotional decision making. Make sure you prepare a diligence package that pattern matches a company much further along which signals that you have it together and that you are a legit company. Show that you have a product roadmap, a well thought-out business model, proper accounting, legitimate sales data, and certificate ledgers.

Go the extra mile and do the work. If you have a Series A level deck as a seed stage company, you are more likely to have investors take notice and take you seriously.


Introducing the 2019 Launch Cohort

The 2019 LAUNCH Accelerator kicked off with inspiring messages from  keynote speaker, Amit Tewari, Co-founder MoData, and pitches from the 20+ companies participating the Spring program. This year’s launch cohort is incredibly diverse and spans across a number of different industries.  Meet the 2019 participants below:

2019 LAUNCH COHORT

2019 LAUNCH COHORT

Y-LECTRY is a parking and charging station for the first and last mile of electric transportation. It aims to provide an eco-friendly parking and charging solution for electric rideables.

Hex Five Security is the creator of MultiZoneTM Security, the first trusted execution environment for RISC-V.

CrossCampusXC is an online marketplace community for Berkeley students, who may safely sell and buy products from one another on campus, allowing for better, faster, and safer transactions among students.

StruDoc is an AI App that identifies building damage.

Vested’s mission is to democratize investing. Vested is an SEC-registered Investment Advisor that allows global investors to invest in US stocks and ETFs easily and affordably.

Fruitful Health is a mobile-web application that allows patients and providers to easily keep track of their most up-to-date medication lists across clinical encounters.

The Ninja Co. is an add-in for Excel that helps ordinary people become Excel ninjas.

Oki installs soundproof karaoke boxes in airports, shopping malls, and other indoor public spaces with high traffic. Oki boxes charge customers by minutes of usage and aims to make karaoke as personal, engaging, and convenient as possible.

Caldo builds and operates smart vending machines that assemble customized, fresh ingredient meals via a fully-automated, low-footprint, 24-hour POS that utilize broth and water-based heating technology.

LeapBox teaches children by transforming classrooms into giant interactive video games. LeapBox creates a gesture/movement based-curriculum. It uses projects to turn walls into screens and deep-learning-enabled gesture-recognition sensors to capture the physical activities of children.

Tannor’s Tea is a direct-to-customer matcha company. The flagship product is a first-to-market sugar-free matcha concentrate. Its matcha concentrate provides a healthier alternative to coffee.

Dine is an equitable marketplace for micro-enterprise food production. It enables at-home chefs to share the food they love with their local community and gives you the opportunity to taste the world around you.

BuildBlock, Korea’s first blockchain-based platform that tokenized the right to invest, aims to simplify and lower the entry barrier in the real-estate market for investors.

Callisto rum is developing a new rum to meeting the growing needs of the nascent craft rum market in the US.

Suite Social is the marketplace to automate and scale influencer marketing. Suite acts as a “market maker” for influencer campaigns, lowering transaction costs that occur when orchestrating a micro-influencer campaign.

BruxA aims to improve the treatment of sleep bruxism by providing a smart night-guard and mobile application to track nighttime teeth grinding.

Focys machine learning engine monitors eSports gameplay to provide key performance insights and automatically presents highlight-worthy moments to share with the streamer’s audience.

Clean Slate is an inexpensive, real-time, and non-invasive point-of-care device that makes Chlamydia and Gonorrhea testing readily accessible to high school and college students.

RoadMap is a workflow management platform that minimizes the time and cost to organizations to outsource projects. By breaking projects into semi-automated, structure tasks, the platform ensures accountability and high quality project results.

LifeWork is on a mission to make freelancing a sustainable career choice for all people.

Grido is a network of e-scooter charging docks placed at small businesses and private residences on city blocks.

Compassionlit provides treatment to jaundiced newborns who are susceptible to brain damage and even death without proper treatment or any treatment at all.

Makhana creates delicious and nutritious snack food from water lily seeds or Makhana.

Ogma Scientific provides high-throughput microbial solutions for industrial ecosystems.

Insights from 2018 LAUNCH Demo Day Grand Prize Winner, DataAgora

DataAgora won the first prize at the LAUNCH Demo Day last Spring and has since received funding from Dorm Room Fund as well. DataAgora sells its decentralized machine learning platform to data scientists across various segments in the IOT space and healthcare.

What was the impact of getting the $25K prize money?

It allowed us to focus more on customer acquisition and flying around the country to pitch our product. Getting to meet potential customers face to face has helped us understand how different types of customers want to use the product. We want to increase the amount of data going through our network by 100X.

What have they learned from the LAUNCH accelerator on their startup journey?

The LAUNCH program teaches you how to look at your business and understand whether you are going in the right direction.  We pivoted halfway through LAUNCH due to the lessons from LAUNCH. For startups, it takes a lot of time and effort to go after one customer in one particular sector. You need to figure out how badly these segments want to use this product. You also need to understand who you are pitching to and what purchasing decisions they are responsible for. We ended up shifting who our target customer was by finding out who the key decision makers are for our product.  

Advice for the incoming LAUNCH cohort:

As a full time engineering student at Cal and CEO of this startup, I spend all of my time either going to class or at work. In fact, our entire team is balancing work and school, but everyone is hungry and concerned with scaling.  Having a clear mission that you are working toward makes it easier to make those sacrifices.

Secondly, develop a customer interview pipeline and interview process to talk to customers with interview scripts. Knowing what specific questions to ask and how to get the most out of the conversation with the interviewee will help you develop a model to understand how your customer behaves.


LAUNCH - THE UC STARTUP ACCELERATOR THAT IS TAKING BAY AREA STARTUPS FROM CONCEPT TO FUNDED VENTURES

Founded by Haas students Melissa Daniels and Keval Desai in 2000, Launch is UC Berkeley’s first accelerator program and, for the past 21 years, Launch has supported hundreds of entrepreneurs in launching new ventures. Every Fall, University of California startups are invited to participate in University of California’s LAUNCH program. During the Spring, accepted startups are given access to 3 months of mentoring, Lean Launchpad education, and other resources to turn their early stage startup ideas into fundable companies. In fact, companies that have completed the intensive LAUNCH program over the last few years have raised more than $37 million in venture funding and have secured investment from prestigious programs such as YC and SkyDeck. Last year’s winners went on to interview with top investors such as The House, 500 Startups, and Andreessen Horowitz.

LAUNCH is run by UC Berkeley Haas MBA students, undergrads, and group of successful entrepreneurs and investors.  The LAUNCH program culminates in a Demo Day where we give away tens of thousands of dollars in prize money to winning teams. UC’s LAUNCH accelerator program will continue to make an impact on the Bay Area startup ecosystem as the next cohort is set to kick off in January 2019.

If you are interested in being a sponsor of the LAUNCH accelerator program or learning more about participating next year, send us an email at launch@berkeley.edu and follow us for updates on LinkedIn and Facebook.