Tag: Proscia


Entrepreneurs Connect, Talk Shop at Inaugural Founders’ Forum

Entrepreneurs Connect, Talk Shop at Inaugural Founders’ Forum

What jumped out to Alex Villa about Johns Hopkins’ inaugural Founders’ Forum for entrepreneurs last month in New York City was not the discussion as much as the participants themselves.

David West, CEO of Proscia, speaks last month in New York during Johns Hopkins’ inaugural Founders’ Forum as Logan Sugarman, left, CEO of Refresh Body Inc. and Alex Villa, chief operating officer of Healthify, listen. (Photo: Madeleine Stokes)

“The first thing I learned is there is a really strong set of companies that came out of Hopkins that most of my classmates didn’t know about,” said Villa, chief operating officer of Healthify, which helps health care organizations find community services and address patient social needs.

Villa was one of eight Johns Hopkins alumni and startup founders who gathered at the offices of Harry’s Inc. — founded by fellow alum Jeff Raider — to connect, commiserate and learn from one another’s startup ventures. The event was a collaboration between Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures and the Johns Hopkins Alumni Association.

To Villa’s surprise, four of the companies were, like Healthify, starting to raise Series B funding — the second round of financing for a startup.

“I severely underestimated the ecosystem,” said Villa.

Each participant — Jarrett Bauer (Carey Business School, ’12), CEO of Health Recovery Solutions; Kevin Callahan (Whiting School of Engineering, ’99), chief technology officer of Maggie Louise Confections; Michael Derby (Whiting School of Engineering, ’95), CEO of Castle Creek Pharmaceuticals; Jess Gartner (Whiting School of Engineering, ’11), CEO of Allovue; Jay Parkinson (Bloomberg School of Public Health, ’06), CEO of Sherpaa; Logan Sugarman (Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, ’00), CEO of Refresh Body Inc.; Villa (Whiting School of Engineering, ’12); and David West (Whiting School of Engineering, ’16), CEO of Proscia — was asked to bring a business topic to discuss with the group.

Discussion prompts included: “What is something you need help thinking through?” and “What keeps you up at night?” The participants were a mix of early-stage founders and leaders of more mature companies. Callahan, who also founded Map My Fitness, flew in from Texas just to support the early-stage founders.

The Founders’ Forum is an extension of Johns Hopkins’ recently launched Founders’ Pledge program, which is seeking company leaders to give back to the university at the point of a liquidity event. (Courtesy of Madeleine Stokes)

“The Founders’ Forum represents a highly targeted approach to alumni engagement, recognizing that founders are unique,” said Madeleine Stokes, director of innovation initiatives and corporate relations with Johns Hopkins. “Hopkins hosts tons of networking events, but for such busy startup founders, we wanted a really curated experience of true peers.”

Villa, who worked with Stokes to shape the event, said the Founders’ Forum was similar to events he has seen put on by some of Healthify’s investors. The practical advice and tips gleaned from such conversations are critical in helping startups on the path to sustainability.

“Something most of my classmates underestimate is having a cohort of peers to recognize the patterns of being a decision-maker,” he said.

Villa added he would participate in future Founders Forum’s events, particularly to pay it forward to future entrepreneurs in the Johns Hopkins ecosystem. Such events show Johns Hopkins does more than produce physicians, researchers and bankers, he said.

The Founders’ Forum is an extension of Johns Hopkins’ recently launched Founders’ Pledge program, which is seeking company leaders to give back to the university at the point of a liquidity event — that is, a company exit through merger, acquisition or initial public offering.

“It’s a mutual commitment — from the founder to the university in the form of promised time and money back to the institution and from the university to the founder in the form of support and access,” said Stokes. “Through the Founders’ Pledge and events like the Founders’ Forum, Johns Hopkins is recognizing risk-takers and bringing together a community of entrepreneurs.”


11 Startups with JHTV Ties Rank Among Baltimore’s Best

11 Startups with JHTV Ties Rank Among Baltimore’s Best

In the last six months, Personal Genome Diagnostics (PGDx) raised a $75 million series B, Harpoon Medical sold for $100 million and Sunayu acquired Fractal Technology. Which Baltimore startup is next?

According to Technical.ly, businesses associated with Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures (JHTV) are leading the next generation of Baltimore startups. Last week, the publication released the realLIST to catalogue the city’s “top companies who have already shown promise.” The top six companies ranked and 11 of the 20 mentioned have ties to JHTV.


Technical.ly selected a group of startups tackling diverse challenges related to manufacturing, education, health care, social issues and more. To determine “promise,” considerations included:

  • Boldness of idea
  • Talent levels of founders and team
  • Customer base and revenue
  • Investment capital
  • Potential impact
  • Office space



1. READY Robotics
The FastForward startup based in City Garage enables small- and medium-sized manufacturers to unlock the productivity and potential of robots. The company’s software, which it installs in pre-made manufacturing robots, allows manufacturers to change the tasks their robots perform in hours, instead of days or weeks.
2. Osmosis
A venture in the 2013-2014 Social Innovation Lab (SIL) cohort, Osmosis has created web- and mobile-based interactive learning experiences and an online community to help medical school students study. The startup co-founded by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine students recently expanded into print.
3. FactoryFour
FactoryFour is a solution that automates manufacturing processes for the production of orthotics, eyewear and footwear, reducing lead time and eliminating errors. Johns Hopkins University undergraduates Param Shah and Alex Mathews co-founded the company and used a number of JHTV resources. In addition to participating in SIL’s 2015-2016 cohort, the Mount Vernon-based startup received funding and mentorship through the Summer Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Award.
4. Intelehealth
Led by Johns Hopkins University graduate student Neha Goel, Intelehealth operates in the telemedicine space and is developing a mobile app that improves access to health care for remote and underserved communities. Intelehealth was a member of the 2016-2017 SIL cohort.
5. Proscia
Operating in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, Proscia is ushering in an era of computational pathology. Proscia CEO David West, who founded the company with other Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering undergraduates, aims to give pathologists a quantitative view of cancer, enabling them to improve patient outcomes. Proscia received funding and mentorship from JHTV’s Ralph S. O’Connor Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Fund.
6. b.Well
B.Well’s online platform puts people at the center of their health care by simplifying access to health data, insurance and on-demand health services. The startup participated in the M-1 Ventures accelerator where it grew its pipeline 300 percent and won one of two $25,000 awards.
8. B-360
B-360 is on a mission to end the cycle of poverty and build bridges in communities through a STEM education program and advocacy program centered on Baltimore’s dirt bike culture. B-360 participated in Social Innovation Lab as a member of its 2016-2017 cohort.


Sunrise Health
Co-founded in 2016 by two Johns Hopkins University students, Sunrise Health is developing a mobile app for anonymous, text-based group therapy that increases mental health support for patients and maximizes health care providers’ efficiency. Sunrise Health participated in the 2016-2017 Social Innovation Lab cohort, received support from the Ralph S. O’Connor Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Fund and the Whiting Student Initiatives Fund.
BurnAlong provides an online video fitness and wellness platform that enables users to work out with top instructors from across the country and their friends. After participating in M-1 Ventures, BurnAlong had 400 business partners and more than 3,000 members. The company also won $25,000 through M-1 Ventures.
Portable Alternative Crib
Shantell Roberts distributes safe sleep baby boxes and supplies to Baltimore families to reduce the rate of sudden infant death syndrome in the city. She was a member of the 2016-2017 SIL cohort, winning the $25,000 prize at the conclusion of the program.
A member of FastForward, PathoVax is developing a universal Human Papillomavirus vaccine. Co-founded by two Johns Hopkins University graduate students, the startup recently received two federal grants totaling $2.5 million that will help the company push its first product to clinical trials.

Click here to learn more about Johns Hopkins startups!


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