Health Wildcatters Boost Tech Startups In North Texas | KERA News

Health Wildcatters Boost Tech Startups In North Texas

Nov 19, 2013

Health technology start ups are taking off in North Texas. Entrepreneurs from across the country are coming here to take advantage of the capitol, creativity and connections between the worlds of medicine and tech.

On Wednesday afternoons, Hubert Zajicek walks through a three story building in Dallas where a dozen startups essentially live, to help the fledgling CEO’s practice asking for money.

They’re part of the inaugural class of a select group Zajicek put together calledHealth Wildcatters. Health Wildcatters is the first health care accelerator in the Southwest, and it attracted applications from across the globe.

Zajicek says about half of the startup teams selected aren’t from North Texas. One’s from Israel, another from California.

“That means when they come here and build their startups here they need to know this is fertile grounds for them,” he says.

Credit Dane Walters / KERA News

  Each company that’s accepted gets $35,000 in seed money, space to work for three months, and access to more than 70 mentors who help them refine their business plan. The group of mentors – made up of physicians, business people and venture capitalists – are there to encourage and critique.

The final exam is at the end of November. That’s when all twelve companies will pitch to real investors, for real money at the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas. You can find tickets here.


Cariloop helps seniors and caregivers access information about geriatric care. Michael Walsh started Cariloop in Minneapolis in 2009, and moved to Dallas to take advantage of the considerable senior living market.

“It’s been one hell of a ride,” Walsh says. “To come into this accelerator program where you’ve got fifty, sixty people that all want to take your business plan, literally mangle it and spit it out the other end ten times stronger on the other end, it is intense, but powerful, really powerful stuff.”

Walsh also founded HealthSparx and Health 2.0 Dallas.


SPAtaneity, based in Fort Worth, caters to the growing population of people at high risk of infection, or with immune-suppressed like diabetes and cancer. Six years ago Missy Malone, founder of SPAtaneity, was a stay-at-home mom who loved to get her nails done. She wanted to make extra money and got a manicurist license, hired a staff and opened a salon.

Credit Missy Malone

  After Baylor All Saints Medical Center in Fort Worth asked her to perform services on new moms from the hospital’s labor and delivery unit, Malone began working with patients in other corridors of the hospital – like the oncology and rehab wards.

“That’s what prompted me to learn more about the medical side of it,” Malone says. “And how I found out about the medical nail tech certification program.”

Everyone who works at SPAtaneity is a certified medical nail technician, which makes recruiting a bit of a challenge, Malone says, but the market is there.

“The U.S. nail industry is a ten billion dollar market,” Malone says. “Thirty percent visiting are chronically ill. This lets us know this is a huge market but very much under-served.”

Still, Malone admits it can be hard to pitch pumice stones and nail polish to mostly male audiences.

“Particularly when the majority of them don’t really do manicures and pedicures. So I feel like I have to work a little harder to provide clarity and get my point across. But it’s still fun!”

Socrates Health Solutions

Credit Dane Walters / KERA News

  Scott Smith has already launched a handful of startups. Now, he’s raising funds for a glucose monitor that doesn’t require the collection of blood. The Socrates Companion Noninvasive Glucose Monitor is a cell-phone-sized electronic device that determines glucose levels in the bloodstream through a sensor attached to the ear.

“This is a $10 billion dollar market,” Smith says. “By just grabbing 12 percent of that market we can get to be a billion dollar company in three to four years.”

Right now Companion is a working prototype, but it won’t be available to the general public until it passes FDA approval.