We’re Launching the Healthcare Co-op

By The Healthcare Co-op

First Round
3 min readMay 23, 2018


Healthcare startups are different from traditional Silicon Valley software companies — they have different wants, needs and incentives. Partnering with healthcare providers is different from selling software to the Fortune 500. The path through clinical trials is different from the search for product-market fit. HIPAA safeguards make addressing privacy concerns non-negotiable. With patient lives at stake and the FDA watching, healthcare founders don’t have the option to move fast and break things. These entrepreneurs need a unique set of skills, experiences, advisors and investors to go from idea to product to company.

That’s why today, with funding and operational support from First Round, we’re launching the Healthcare Co-op. This new model for startup investing will allow us — three healthcare operators working across the industry — to invest in companies together, and offer hands-on, experience-grounded expertise to founders from the earliest stage. Collectively, we’ve worked across the healthcare ecosystem, building new models for health insurance, developing FDA-regulated products, and making medicine more compassionate, affordable, and patient-centered. Here’s who we are:

  • Gabe Otte is the CEO and co-founder of Freenome, where he draws on his experience in chromatin biology, epigenetics, and technology to develop AI-powered cancer screening and diagnostic tests. At Freenome, Gabe has built one of the best teams in healthcare with expertise in areas of science, technology, clinical development, regulatory affairs, reimbursement, operations, and commercial growth.
  • Dr. Connie Chen is a physician and the co-founder of Vida Health, a digital coaching platform for chronic disease management. At Vida, Dr. Chen was responsible for all clinical operations, including management of clinical/coaching staff, clinical protocol/product development, and clinical trials. She is also practicing physician and has published on topics ranging from open frameworks for mobile health to the design of clinical trials for cardiac devices.
  • Kiran Gollakota is the Chief of Staff at Clover Health, a health insurance startup combining technology and preventive care to lower costs and increase the quality of life for those who need it most. Kiran currently works on strategic initiatives across the company and has navigated many of Clover’s government submissions working with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, co-created the company’s fraud, waste, and abuse team, and built many of their initial data integrations across primary care, lab, and hospital providers.

No one can improve healthcare alone. As a team, we hope our combined experience can help entrepreneurs embarking on that journey. We’re already backing startups, and made our first investment last week in RDMD, a new company that is connecting rare disease patients with top specialists to accelerate research and improve access to the best medical expertise. We’re looking forward to working with founders like RDMD’s Nancy Yu and Onno Faber, passionate entrepreneurs who still have many of their biggest challenges ahead of them — ideally before they even have a deck or have planned their raise.

If this is where you are with your company, we may be good partners. Don’t hesitate to reach out to any of us individually or through a mutual connection or email us at healthcare@co-op.vc. We’re excited to get to work.

Want more info? Check out the Healthcare Co-op FAQ.