How the founder of a shuttered telehealth company convinced investors to bet on his new approach to keeping seniors out of the hospital
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- Curve, a remote monitoring and emergency care startup that works with patients in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, raised $6 million in seed funding on Thursday.
- Curve founder Dr. Timothy Peck also founded Call9, a similar senior care startup that shut down in 2019 after being unable to secure payment from patients with Medicare.
- This time around, Peck said he recognized that he needed a senior leadership team around him to lead Curve as demand for remote patient monitoring for at-risk populations rose with the pandemic.
- See the pitch deck that convinced Lightspeed and other investors to back Curve and give Peck another chance.
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Just over a year after Dr. Timothy Peck shut down his last senior care startup, he is back as founder and executive chairman of newly funded Curve Health.
On Thursday, Curve Health, which provides remote monitoring and virtual emergency care for patients in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, announced its $6 million in seed funding. Lightspeed Venture Partners led the round for the startup, which Peck said relies heavily on the technology he developed at his previous company, Call9.
Peck shut down five-year-old Call9, which provided virtual care for patients experiencing emergencies while in assisted living facilities and nursing homes, in July 2019 after his team was unable to figure out a way to get paid through Medicare, the federal health insurance program for seniors 65 and up. Because Call9 was unable to generate revenue from those patients, it closed up shop and Peck said he shelved the technology in hopes that he could revive it down the road.
Then the coronavirus pandemic arrived in the United States and tore through the exact type of facilities Peck had been targeting at Call9. The high-risk populations were suddenly discouraged from seeking emergency care and outside visitors were banned in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. Peck dusted off the virtual care aspect of Call9 and workshopped a new company with design firm IDEO to launch Curve Health.
“We hit the timing for this perfectly,” Peck told Business Insider. “If COVID showed anything, it’s that the four walls of the hospital are arbitrary.”
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Peck realized, however, that if Curve was to have a chance of succeeding, he needed to bring in a more experienced leadership team that could navigate not only the policy world but also adequately balance the technological components with necessary business elements like sales and getting insurance companies on board. He ultimately brought on tech industry veteran and healthcare founder Rob MacNaughton as CEO in September as the seed funding deal was in its final weeks.
“I asked myself if I’m making this again, what do I need that I didn’t have last time? I needed a professional team to make this vision a reality,” Peck said. “Rob was the first person I spoke to, and I left the phone call and immediately called up a board member and said I found the person who could be our CEO.”
Before joining Curve, MacNaughton served as an executive at Cambia Health Solutions in Portland, Oregon, and had experience launching his own senior care startup years ago. He decided to join Curve after seeing that the long-term care industry is more open now to trying out new technology.
“Long term care has historically been one of the areas that have been most reticent to invest in and adopt new technology,” MacNaughton told Business Insider. “But in the last seven or eight months, there’s been a sea-change and growing adoption in how technology can change this business.”
Much of the rest of Curve’s team is former employees from Call9, Peck said. He also fell back on his old network for the seed funding round, he said, reaching out to investors that previously funded Call9 or had expressed interest in the past. When he heard a previous investor, Ling Wong, had joined Lightspeed Venture Partners, a $10.5 billion global venture firm, he opted to forgo an early financing round in favor of an institutional seed round.
“The conversation was, if we are going to build this into a large scale company and deliver on this huge need that’s there today and will be in the future, let’s build it the right way with the capital it needs to really get going with the breadth and depth it needs,” Wong told Business Insider.
The round, which came with an undisclosed valuation, will help facilitate Curve’s upcoming launch in Minnesota and MacNaughton’s expansion plans.
Curve shared a copy of the pitch deck it used in its seed round. The presentation has been lightly redacted by the Curve team to remove financial information and intellectual property.
Here’s the pitch deck that Peck used to convince investors to fund his latest startup just a year after shutting down his last company.
The presentation starts with an overview of Curve Health, a digital health startup that raised $6 million in seed funding.
It then provides an overview of what it offers, which is virtual care services and remote monitoring for patients in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
Its goal is to cut back on ambulatory services and in-person emergency visits for high-risk populations, founder Dr. Timothy Peck said.
Peck previously started a similar company called Call9, which wound down in 2019.
Curve is built on the same virtual care technology as Call9, Peck said. The company’s services are outlined in this slide, including telemedicine and billing software.
Another element of Curve’s software also allows a patient’s family or nurse to attend a visit with them to provide better histories or information.
The main highlights of Curve’s deck show that the startup primarily a technology company that operates in the healthcare ecosystem, Peck said.
Over the long term, Curve Health could use the data it collects to better predict treatments, care outcomes, and patient costs, CEO Rob MacNaughton said.
When looking at the broader landscape, Peck and MacNaughton said that Curve has an advantage over other telemedicine startups because the technology has been five years in the making.
However, he believes that many of the changes are here to stay, and were only accelerated changes that would have happened without the pandemic, albeit at a slower pace.
A study published in the Western Journal of Emergency Medicine based on Peck’s his former company that was released as he was fundraising for Curve. The study found that of the patients who were at the skilled nursing facility who were given emergency medical care at the facility, only 27% needed to go to the ER for additional care. In comparison, roughly 71% of those in the control group were admitted to the hospital.
Read the full study here.
Peck brought in outsiders like MacNaughton to lead the company, though a number of executives at Curve are former Call9 employees.
Lightspeed Venture Partners led the $6 million seed round, which will be used to get the software in front of more hospitals and care facilities in the US.
The closing slide highlights that the team believes Curve’s software could be the future of healthcare. Curve will be operational in Minnesota starting in December and has plans to expand to New York and California shortly after.
Learn more about the remote patient monitoring industry and the top RPM companies & startups leading the charge.