Kobo founder launches healthcare startup
November 19, 2014
TORONTO – The entrepreneur who started, expanded and eventually sold Kobo, the eBook company, is now turning his attention to electronic healthcare solutions for consumers. Mike Serbinis (pictured), the founder and former co-CEO of Kobo, announced that his new start-up, League, will create networks of consumers and preventative healthcare professionals, such as nutritionists, massage therapists, chiropractors and optometrists.
His 12-person company is based at MaRS, a technology company incubator in downtown Toronto. The app and web service will be a single source for patient records and health-tracking data, but will also work to help improve communications, with appointment reminders, recommendations and potentially even payment management.
“It is an app and a web service that you can sign up to, and you can use it as a consumer to find different health professionals, or health services, like a nutritionist or a massage therapist,” said Serbinis, League’s CEO and founder, on Tuesday. “It is curated, so these are professionals that have been selected to be on the platform, and are rated and reviewed and are matched to you based on the neighbourhood where you live, because most people are looking for convenience.
“Not only can you find a nutritionist or personal trainer, discover their schedule, book an appointment, pay, get a receipt and eliminate paper throughout the process, but over time you can maintain the connection with the person through League, and add others, so you can form effectively a league of your own health professionals.”
The announcement comes with US$4 million in funding from a number of venture-capital firms, including OMERS Ventures with Foundation Capital, Real Ventures and Infinite Potential Group.
After leaving Kobo in February, Serbinis says he took some time off but was inspired after speaking with Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, a surgeon, entrepreneur and philanthropist who talked about how preventative medicine has been overlooked.
“The idea was about keeping people healthy from the start. The healthcare system is $4 trillion between Canada and the U.S. and it’s expected to double in the next decade, (and is) not on a sustainable track. Over half of the cost of that $4 trillion is preventable,” he says. “So I came back to Toronto and decided that this was what I was going to spend the next decade building.”
Serbinis is selling League as a consumer-focused healthcare initiative, where patients have more control over their information and will benefit from more choice. The company plans to launch its private beta version in the next few weeks, and is seeking healthcare professionals and users who are curious to try it out. Because of the local nature of the services, the plan is to launch in Toronto, then expand to other cities in Canada and the U.S.
League’s service will be free for users, and after a certain number of patients, healthcare professionals will pay a subscription fee. If the service links a patient with a provider, it will also take a referral fee. Serbinis says he is also in conversations with health insurance companies, as the app could become a tool that helps them manage client needs.
The platform will store health information – including data from wearables and popular health applications – putting members in control of their information and giving them the ability to safely and securely share their data with their League.
“OMERS Ventures is focused on finding and investing in innovative and leading technology companies. We are very pleased to lead the seed investment in League, and look forward to helping add value at this early stage,” said Kent Thexton, Managing Director, OMERS Ventures. “Michael is the epitome of the type of entrepreneur we love to partner with – successful, focused and able to create real products and services that fill a significant market need. League has huge potential, and we look forward to partnering with Michael and his team as they build another global success story.”
League is currently accepting applications from health professionals and people interested in joining its beta program at www.JOINLeague.com. The platform will launch in early 2015.