Toward the end of last year the Boston Globe’s technology columnist Scott Kirsner reported that former Apple CEO John Sculley had invested in Misfit Wearables, a new startup from the co-founder of AgaMatrix, Sonny Vu. Kirsner reported that Misfit Wearables’ first product would ship by the end of 2012 and that it had raised some $750,000 in funding so far. Investors include Sridhar Iyengar, Vu’s co-founder at AgaMatrix; John Sculley, former head of Apple from 1983 to 1993; and Vu.
As we noted in September, Sculley is already involved as an advisor at a handful of other medtech startups. He’s on the board of directors of Watermark Medical, developer of an in-home sleep apnea diagnostic device, and on the board of advisors at Audax Health Solutions, a consumer health startup which uses gamification and social networking for health management.
MobiHealthNews discussed the prospect of Vu’s next venture during an interview with him last summer, just after he announced his departure from AgaMatrix. Here’s more about Vu’s plans and perspectives from our interview:
“There is like a zillion interesting mobile health things that one could do right now,” Vu told MobiHealthNews. Given his one-year noncompete with AgaMatrix, which is active in mobile health too, Misfit Wearables will not focus on diabetes management, but Vu said it would focus on a chronic condition.
“Let’s do all the hard stuff. Let’s do something that is reimbursed. Let’s do hardware. Let’s do regulated devices. Let’s do chemistry. Let’s do something that requires you to work with physicians to get adoption. And then let’s layer services on top of that,” Vu said. “Our feeling [at AgaMatrix] has been that mobile health has been a little too thin. If you are just doing software and services — awesome, God bless you — but if you have no anchor reimbursement product then it will be hard to get substantial revenue early.”
Vu’s experience at AgaMatrix positions him well for starting a new mobile health company willing to face the industry’s biggest challenges.
“I did an informal survey at [Stanford's Mobile Health 2011 event] and asked people if they knew what ISO13845 was. There were crickets. That is probably the most basic documentation for quality controls in devices that you can be audited for [by the FDA],” Vu said. “Then I asked about CPT codes — does anyone know what a CPT code is? And again, no answer. That’s reimbursement. So, I’m like what are you guys doing in healthcare? Now I know why Silicon Valley is a buzz with fitness and wellness — because that’s the only thing they get. That’s true unless you talk to the medtech folks in Silicon Valley — that’s a different group.”
Vu said he also asked a group of people at lunch at the The Wireless Life-Sciences Alliance Convergence Summit about a popular social gaming company. “I asked: How many of you guys know what Zynga is?” Vu said. “And I won’t say who said it, but my favorite response was: ‘Is that some kind of tea?’ Someone else asked if it was a fruit. It got me thinking that if we just took 5 percent of the talent at [Stanford's Mobile Health 2011 event] making products for the guys at WLSA — who are the guys that really have the money to move the needle — then mobile health would move forward a lot faster.”
Interestingly, according to Vu’s bio, Misfit Wearables was coincidentally incorporated on the day that Apple co-founder Steve Jobs died and the startup’s name is in reference to Apple’s Think Different commercial: Here’s to the Crazy Ones. Vu’s bio also provides the most official summary of the startup’s plans: “inventors and makers of cloud-connected wearable sensing products for fitness and medical applications.”
So, there may be a fitness offering in the works at Misfit after all?
UPDATED from an original version to include specific years that Sculley ran Apple.
Head over to Boston.com for a few more details in Kirsner’s post from December.