Category: Meet the Entrepreneur

Meet the Entrepreneur

Meet the Entrepreneur: Jenna Shaw Aiding Teachers Through Wellness…

Meet the Entrepreneur: Jenna Shaw Aiding Teachers Through Wellness Programming

At 35 percent, Baltimore’s teacher turnover rate doubles the national average, and Jenna Shaw wasn’t immune to this. A Baltimore educator with nearly a decade of experience, Shaw found it became harder and harder to have the energy she needed to be a really good teacher. Instead of accepting or even perpetuating this reality, the Baltimore resident founded The Whole Teacher.

The Whole Teacher is designed to address teacher wellness, thereby increasing the retention rates of educators in city schools. This includes listening to educators’ unmet needs, providing on-site health and wellness programming, guiding schools to rethink how they can create healthier environments and conducting exit interviews with teachers to better understand why they are leaving.

Jenna Shaw

A member of the Social Innovation Lab’s 2016-2017 cohort, The Whole Teacher launched its pilot program in fall 2016, and is currently building its School Health Platform that connects teacher health data with programming to streamline health solutions within schools.

Below, Shaw answers questions about The Whole Teacher, her goals and the benefits of Baltimore.

In 5 words, what does your company do?
We help keep teachers healthy.

What are your goals, and how will you get there?
The Whole Teacher looks to expand our scope and impact over the next year by offering programming that reaches teachers in Maryland, D.C. and Pennsylvania.

By building school wellness programs that help both predict and prevent teacher burn-out, as well as tend to current teacher health needs, we will move to work with districts across the East Coast to bring in solutions to teacher satisfaction and development that move the needle on changing how the teaching profession feels and treats our educators.

Why have you chosen Baltimore as your startup’s home?
Baltimore is the home of everything I love. I grew up here and my life is here. I couldn’t imagine starting anything meaningful anywhere else.

What opportunities make it a good place for growing a business?
Baltimore is leading the nation in opportunities for edtech and health startups. Baltimore is at a pivotal point both in a social content, but also in education reform.

The issue of teacher retention is huge for our city and we believe we can have an enormous impact on students, schools and community by building the foundation of our company here in Baltimore.

In terms of startups and innovation, what’s one thing that separates Baltimore from other tech hotbeds?
Baltimore offers a diversity and social energy that I believe sets it apart from other startup centers around the country.

If you could give your past self one piece of advice for creating a startup, what would it be?
Start sooner. I wish I would have started a company 10 years ago while I was in college.

What book are you currently reading?
Radical Candor by Kim Scott

What innovator do you look up to? Why?
I am a huge fan of the arts. I think that Banksy is one of the most innovative artists of our time. The way he is able to spread social messages and comment on society is worth paying attention to and fascinating.

It’s after a long day of work, and you don’t feel like cooking. What is your go-to Baltimore restaurant?
Bar Clavel

What’s your favorite non-work-related thing to do in Baltimore?
I love art. I spend a lot of time watching, listening and participating in art in all forms. Our theaters are amazing and I often walk over the Baltimore Museum of Art from my house to unwind.

Click here to learn more about the Social Innovation Lab!


Meet the Entrepreneur

Meet the Entrepreneur: Amanda Allen Discusses emocha, Baltimore and…

Meet the Entrepreneur: Amanda Allen Discusses emocha, Baltimore and FastForward

Emocha Mobile Health was one of the first tenants at FastForward East when it opened in 2015. Two years later, it became one of the first startups to move into Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures’ newest innovation hub, FastForward 1812.

As a FastForward tenant, emocha has added clients from Baltimore to Australia for its mobile health platform that connects patients to health care providers and helps solve problems such as medication adherence, linkage to care and patient engagement.

It played a key role in the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s monitoring of Ebola during the outbreak in 2015. This past August, emocha secured contracts for its medication adherence mobile application from three California counties that have some of the highest rates of latent tuberculosis in the country. They’re now using the same technology for hepatitis C and opioid addiction therapy.

Below, Amanda Allen, emocha’s design lead, discusses the startup’s mission, recent successes, support from FastForward and the strengths of Baltimore (which includes delicious pizza).

In five words, what does your company do?

Mobile health for public health.

If I had a few more words I’d say:

“We help public health resources go further. Using technology that strengthens patient-provider relationships, we reduce costs and improve health outcomes.”

What’s one success that emocha has had that you’re particularly proud of?

We started working with Puerto Rico’s Tuberculosis Control Program a few months ago, and their feedback has been extremely positive. I hung up a direct quote in our office: “This has been a god send and has changed the way we operate. You guys are at the forefront of how technology improves health care.”

For context, health departments have a mandate to watch patients take every dose of their TB medication. Every day, for a six- to nine-month period, health officials drive to patients, or ask patients to come into the clinic. This is called Directly Observed Therapy (DOT). While this method is highly effective, it’s extremely burdensome and expensive to scale.

Emocha offers a digital solution. A mobile app allows a patient to video themselves taking their medication at their convenience. Health care workers then log into emocha on their desktop and review videos at their convenience, dramatically reducing the time and money that is poured into observing each patient in-person. This solution is a big deal for Puerto Rico because 30 to 50 percent of their active TB population is unable to access care and dies each year. This situation is compounded by Puerto Rico’s debt, which is currently over $70 billion.

What are emocha’s goals, and how do you plan to reach them?

Each product has a specific goal (increase medication adherence, monitor an outbreak, link more patients to care in less time), but at a high level, we aim to create technology that solves real problems in public health. We do this through a hybrid of research, design and engineering.

I think one of the reasons we’re successful is because we hold the user experience paramount. As design lead, I try to make sure every interface is easy to understand and enjoyable to use, regardless of a user’s age, location and technical savvy. We do this by engaging patients, healthcare workers and providers early on in the design process. One-on-one interviews, focus groups, direct observation and other interactive design exercises ensure we’re solving the right problem in the right way.

In terms of startups and innovation, what’s one thing that separates Baltimore from other tech hotbeds?

Baltimore is a mid-sized city that offers a diverse range of neighborhoods and people. I rarely want to leave, but when I do, I like having access to larger nearby cities. On top of this, cost of living is fairly inexpensive. Baltimore is a hidden gem, my only fear is that word gets out.

What has been the best part about the FastForward 1812 innovation hub so far?

Every product we develop has a clinical champion that guides our understanding of the problem we’re trying to solve. FastForward’s location within the medical campus allows us to meet more often with the world-renowned experts we work with in HIV, Hepatitis C and Tuberculosis.

I also enjoy the physical co-working space. I usually start my day in our office, but work in huddle spaces and phone booths the rest of the day for a change of scenery.

How has FastForward/Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures helped emocha grow?

Emocha was invented by clinicians and researchers at Johns Hopkins in 2008, and Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures helped us license the technology in 2013. They also provided access to the DreamIT Health Accelerator which was instrumental to our start.

Since then, they’ve continued to make introductions to customers and thought leaders in healthcare.

What book are you currently reading?

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer” by Siddhartha Mukherjee

What innovator do you look up to? Why?

I think I’m most impressed by social entrepreneurs getting by through sheer will power, hustle. They’re usually determined to solve a problem their deeply connected to.

I’ve met two recently who are a part of FastForward’s Social Innovation Lab. Brittany Young is providing a pipeline from dirt biking to STEM jobs through her nonprofit B360, and Shantell Roberts is working to eliminate SIDS by providing an innovative safe sleep solution called a Portable Alternative Cribs (P.A.C.s). Watch out for them.

It’s after a long day of work, and you don’t feel like cooking. What is your go-to Baltimore restaurant?

Lebanese Taverna. But if I’m extra lazy, I order chicken tiki marsala pizza from Charles Restaurant and Carry Out. Look it up. You’re welcome.

What’s your favorite non-work-related thing to do in Baltimore?

I joke that hobbies are for people who don’t like their jobs. But I do enjoy Baltimore’s vibrant bar scene. I like to bring everyone I love together at brunch as often as possible.

Want to learn more about FastForward 1812? Click here.


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