Women’s sexuality and health startup Rosy beat out nine competitors Wednesday to take the $14,000 top prize in the Health Innovation Pitch Competition 2019 at the Healthcare Dealmakers conference at the Ritz-Carlton in Dallas.
Rosy is a women’s health company founded by Lyndsey Harper, M.D., that connects women who have decreased sexual desire with evidence-based resources that have been proven to improve libido.
The pitch competition was presented by Health Wildcatters, the Dallas-based healthcare seed accelerator focused on health-related startups, and featured 10 startups who pitched their innovations. The conference, now in its 12th year, is presented by the law firm Polsinelli.
Second place earned Health Wildcatters cohort member MycoDart legal services from Polsinelli and six months of desk space at Health Wildcatters. MycoDart has developed diagnostic tests for early and rapid detection of deadly infections in very vulnerable patients such as those with transplants, cancer, and AIDS.
Third place was a tie between Toolbox Genomics and Stingray Therapeutics, both of which won coworking space at Health Wildcatters.
Toolbox has a platform for health and wellness practitioners that focuses on functional/precision medicine. It also aims to make a positive impact on consumers’ individual health using their personal genomics. Stingray, in Health Wildcatter’s current cohort, is developing a new oral drug that can boost a person’s innate immunity, treating many types of cancer and extending a patient’s life.
Rosy Wellness evolved from founder’s medical practice
In making her pitch before a panel of judges, Harper touted her 11 years of experience as an OB/GYN physician. She said in her practice, women often confided to her their loss of libido, asking her for solutions to the problem.
She said her residency left her without information for those patients.
“I had no idea what to do for these patients — no training, no education, and so I was leaving them without answers,” Harper said. “And unfortunately, these were not just my patients. This represents the 38 percent of women who have low sexual desire, and yet no training by women’s health experts in order to address that.”
Harper said the issue is a huge problem worldwide, with 1.1 billion women having low sexual desire. In the United States, 31 million women report low sexual desire. Her startup targets women ages 25 to 45—some 15 million women in the United States.
Rosy was launched on Valentine’s Day, and the website contains information on dealing with low libido, including three to five minute educational videos about sexual health and wellness, a curated library of romantic and erotic short stories, and a library of self-help sessions that were recorded by renowned psychologist Dr. Laurie Mintz of the University of Florida Department of Psychology.
What will Harper do with Rosy’s winnings?
“That’s a great question. I’ll have to think about that,” she told Dallas Innovates. “I’ll probably just continue to fund our marketing efforts to position our channels. I’m really trying to close my round so that I can make my first hires.”
Rosy is seeking $1 million in funding, Harper told the Dealmakers’ attendees.
“This is a toe in that water,” said Harper, who still practices medicine and once a month goes to Baylor Scott White to delivers babies and perform surgery.
“But I do this [Rosy] most all day, every day,” Harper told Dallas Innovates. “I love it.”
Running a startup is a part of Harper’s family. Her husband is Dialexa founder and CEO Scott Harper.
“I think I’m a startup person because my husband is a startup person,” Harper told Dallas Innovates. “Had he not been in my brain all these years—really pushing innovation and everything surrounding that—I don’t know that I would have had the confidence to do something like this.”
Meet the other competing startups
The company, a member of Health Wildcatters’ fall cohort, has a platform that helps hospitals integrate outside providers into the health system via a simple graphical interface.
Sway is a mobile software company the focuses on developing medial grade mobile apps to objectively monitor patient outcomes in the areas of athletics, workplace screening, orthopedics, and geriatrics.
The startup’s SaaS platform automates the diagnosis and analysis of brain aneurysms for monitoring and surgical planning.
This startup is the first-ever healthcare price transparency platform to utilize patient condition and CMS data sets to assign a Diagnosis Relate Group.
The startup leverages wearable bio-sensor technology and behavioral science to encourage compliance with physical therapy for knee replacement surgery by ‘gamifying’ the process.
The company uses its proprietary software to generate more revenue from the 340B Drug Discount Program, a federal program that requires drug makers to provide what are very expensive specialty drugs to eligible health care organizations and covered entities at significantly reduced prices. Approved Health’s platform helps hospitals and doctors gain approval for these drugs more quickly by automating what had been complicated paperwork.
Before presenting the winners, Health Wildcatters’ CEO and co-founder Hubert Zajicek told the startups: “You’re in an elite group. In order to pitch here today, you had to win against a lot of others that applied to compete, and that means you have gotten not just our attention, but that of other professional investors as well.”
By presenting to an audience of investors, the startups had accomplished something enviable.
“Frankly, to me, in the startup world the top prize is to be able to pitch in front of a captive audience that is full of investors, so congratulations to all of you that were chosen to present today,” Zajicek said.
Quincy Preston contributed to this report.
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