Meet The Team — XLerateHealth

By Cynthia Leaphart, MD, MBA

Founded in 2013, XLerateHealth (XLH) cultivates and grows impactful healthcare innovation in the Midwest, Southeast and other areas of the country where great innovation often goes unrecognized and underfunded.  XLH is one of the longest standing healthcare accelerators in the U.S.  In 2019, XLerateHealth expanded from Louisville, Kentucky, to Flint, Michigan, with a subsequent second location in the Ferris Wheel building.

Over 90 companies are part of the XLH portfolio with $210M collectively raised in private equity and non dilutive capital.  XLH is proud of an outstanding startup survival rate of 87% which occurs through lifelong relationships supporting commercialization, company growth and exit stages. Founding a successful startup is an iterative process that is enhanced by XLH’s warm introductions to a national network of over three hundred mentors and coaches, providing educational sessions during the Bootcamp and other programs, and facilitating deeper one-on-one conversations and pilots. 

Healthcare innovation is developed through the XLH Accelerator, an early-stage healthcare accelerator that commercializise startups and attracts funding, and the XLerator Network, an NIH-funded partnership with twenty-five academic institutions supporting the commercialization of promising life science and healthcare innovation in the Southeast Institutional Development Award (IDeA) states. Ultimately, this extensive network of resources helps promising startups to secure customers and attract funding from a nationwide network of coaches, angels, VCs and large healthcare organizations invested in the customer development process.

There are two significant gaps that healthcare startups should address to build a successful company:  1) access to customers and 2) access to capital.  Access to customers is essential for customer development (which includes getting real-time feedback in the early stages of a company to understand if their innovation is meeting a true market need), customer pilots and ultimately engagement with the customer that brings in revenue to the startup. Access to capital is important for refining technologies, delivering pilots and growing the sales pipeline, as well as growing the startup team.  Both gaps are addressed through mentoring and training programs provided by XLH.

Collaborations such as the one between ArborHive and XLH provide opportunities to address gaps in customer discovery.  Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) provided through ArborHive provide insight to understand day-to-day operational activity in healthcare and to help startup founders to determine whether the solutions being piloted solve key pain points.  XLH entrepreneurs gain by connecting with mentors who can assess proposed solutions from the vantage point of experience in the healthcare field.  Collaborations with SMEs and guidance from XLH in the application of Steve Blank’s Lean Launch Pad methodology grounded in the Customer Discovery process is key in helping startups to gain access to customers while validating proposed solutions and business models.

Early-stage companies benefit from XLH guidance for customer discovery with ongoing support for piloting and marketing products.  After validation is performed, many companies require access to capital for ongoing product development, marketing and adding team members.  XLH portfolio companies receive assistance for identifying and securing funding, successfully applying for SBIR grant funding, getting in front of and securing customer pilots, developing IP, providing regulatory and reimbursement strategies and outlicensing technology.

The breadth and depth of support from XLH is best demonstrated by highliighting a few recent success stories of companies completing the XLH bootcamp program:

  • Safety Sit (2020 XLH Flint Cohort) – Headquartered in Detroit, Safety Sit offers a hospital-developed technology that decreases the risk of patient injury while therapists perform physical therapy. The SafetySit device decreases the need for multiple caregivers at the bedside and increases the safety for both the patient and therapist.
    • Following the XLH Bootcamp and ongoing work with XLH, Safety Sit:
      • Completed a useability/human factor study with Hurley Hospital,
      • Added expert counsel to their advisors for FDA and device commercialization, including hiring Chris Holland, who has over a decade of experience in commercialization of medical devices, and was the previous Chief Commercial Officer for Nonin Medical,
      • Developed their own Quality Management System (QMS) with the help of an FDA expert to speed up commercialization
      • Are engaged in several conversations with investors and angels
  • HealthOpX (2020 XLH Flint Cohort) – (East Lansing, MI) HealthOpX partners with community-based organizations, health systems and health insurance companies to engage and improve the health of at-risk populations. Health insurance companies pay for HealthOpX to meet the needs of this challenging to reach population and in turn, build healthier communities for underserved populations.
    • Following the XLH Bootcamp and ongoing work with XLH, HealthOpX:
      • Launched their app in Flint with accompanied care visits underway,
      • Entered into a research pilot study with University of Michigan Flint Latinos United and the Genesee County Free Health Clinic  (https://www.gcfmc.org/) where they plan to expand into helping other languages and underserved groups such as the deaf and hard of hearing and other at-risk populations
      • Is one of eight applicants out of a 330+ applicant pool to be selected into the Halcyon program in D.C. Among the eight applicants, HealthOpX was selected as the Healthworx fellow of the cohort and will be mentored by the impact investment arm of Blue Cross Blue Shield in the DMV area.
  • Kare Mobile (2019 XLH Louisville Cohort) – Kare Mobile (Louisville, KY) offers concierge mobile dentistry through its network of dentist and hygienist licensees across the United States. The startup program helps new practices launch affordably and quickly with robust dental support services helping to ensure they operate efficiently and profitably. Most importantly, Kare Mobile patients receive comprehensive, safe and ultra-convenient treatment. Their goal is to disrupt the dental industry and improve access to dental care for millions of Americans.
    • Following the XLH Bootcamp and ongoing work with XLH, the company:
      • Partnered with Delta Dental to help address underserved Detroit neighborhoods that lack quality and reliable dental care. The joint initiative, which also includes the Ford Motor Company Fund and Lightship Foundation, launched the Motor City Kares giveaway to offer one minority dentist the opportunity to win a $150,000 Ford Transit mobile dental office to serve children and families in low-income communities,
      • Won the 2020 Vogt Award for $25,000 in non-dilutive funding
      • Actively providies care via their mobile dental vans across KY

XLH thrives on maintaining life-long relationships with the companies they support and mentor across all development stages.  In addition to providing support to startup founders, XLH also supports innovation at the corporate and organization level. Any healthcare organizations interested in exploring how XLerateHealth supports corporate innovation can learn more at https://www.xleratehealth.com/corporate-innovation/

XLerateHealth is always looking for qualified mentors, coaches and subject matter experts to support our work with startups. If interested you can apply directly at: https://www.xleratehealth.com/our-mentors/ 

Contact XLerate Health to get involved as a startup or mentor through their media sites:


This article originally appeared in the ArborHive Innovation Newsletter Issue 13 — April 2021 in an edited version.

ArborHive would like to thank Jackie Willmont and Kallie Knop from XLerateHealth for their time and assistance with this article!

All photos courtesy of XLerateHealth