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The start-up says its tech helps providers detect behavioral health issues early.
If Jeff Bezos likes a company, there must be something to it. Right?
If so, then you might want to pay attention. A health-tech start-up called Mindstrong Health reported $15 million in Series B financing today, bankrolling its efforts to build smartphone technologies that help providers quickly detect and treat mental health conditions. What made the feat made more notable was its newest investor: Bezos Expeditions, the venture-capital engine of the Amazon founder.
Bezos Expeditions has a habit of betting on winners and potentially ground-shaking start-ups, from Uber and AirBnB to Twitter. Of particular note is the firm’s healthcare portfolio, spanning favorites like digital appointment booker ZocDoc, cancer company Juno Therapeutics, and blood test maker Grail. So, if Bezos’s backing means anything for Mindstrong Health beyond bloating the bank, it’s that the start-up is in strong company—and a very smart man with a healthcare track record thinks it will take off.
But why? If you read Mindstrong’s press release, you’ll learn that Larry Renfro, vice chairman of UnitedHealth Group and CEO of Optum—an investor—says Mindstrong “continues to show great progress” in building the tools to enable behavioral health providers to get an early jump on detection and treatment.
It’s not all about the tech, though. Renfro says that will produce ripple effects across the industry. “We expect this to improve access and quality for patients and reduce expenditures related to healthcare utilization,” he says of Mindstrong Health’s solutions.
And so far, they appear promising. In March, Paul Dagum, MD, PhD, Mindstrong’s founder and CEO, published an article in the journal NPJ Digital Medicine, which found that the company “can generate digital biomarkers correlated with gold-standard neurocognitive tests using passively acquired data during daily use of a smartphone.”
Takeda Pharmaceuticals and Blackthorn Therapeutics also like what they see, having inked partnership deals with Mindstrong.
What’s more, former National Institute of Mental Health leader Thomas Insel, MD, left Google’s Verily last year to join Mindstrong.
All that fanfare has led to $29 million in funding for the start-up. Today’s $15 million round came from Bezos, Dechang Capital, and a “syndicate of leading investors and healthcare innovators,” according to the announcement. Last June, ARCH Venture Partners and Foresite Capital led Mindstrong’s $14 million Series A, with support from Berggruen Holdings, Optum Ventures, and the One Mind Brain Health Impact Fund.
Mindstrong will use its war chest to beef up its business and further its commercial deployments. Its product line includes an app for patients, an app for providers, and clinical services revolving around its “telehealth-enabled measurement science and engagement platform.”
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