Born at Yale SOM, Incubator Looks to Build Healthcare Companies

When Sri Muthu ’16 was building a team for his new company, he didn’t look beyond the Yale campus. “I just pulled in my classmates,” says Muthu, CEO of HealthVenture, the company he founded while he was a student in the Yale School of Management’s MBA for Executives program.

“One of the best things about SOM is that it draws students from all over Yale,” Muthu says. “There are people from public health, engineering, law—everyone I needed to build a company—and they were sitting in the same classes with me.” Today, the HealthVenture team includes four graduates of Yale SOM’s Master of Advanced Management (MAM) program in addition to other Yale-educated contributors. Muthu’s classmate Donna Lecky ’16 recently joined as co-founder and heads HealthVenture Capital, the company’s seed fund arm.

A startup incubator that helps new companies build, develop, and launch digital healthcare products, HealthVenture’s underlying goal is to aid the transformation of the healthcare industry through technology, Muthu says. The company provides startups with the technological, product management, operations, and sales teams expertise necessary to launch beta products in 120 days. “We see ourselves really as co-founders during the critical seed stage when companies are seeking their early investors,” Muthu says. “We work with companies every step of the way, and then they’re welcome to remain part of our network. We promise to deliver a viable product within 120 days, but the relationship with our clients is ongoing.”

To select clients, HealthVenture holds pitch competitions three times a year, inviting startups to pitch their products for consideration, and to connect with potential funders who attend the competitions. The most recent competition took place in Edward P. Evans Hall on February 17.

Tony He ’16 has been part of HealthVenture since graduating from the MAM program. “Each of us oversees exciting tasks, and I am lucky to contribute to our business development and product management,” he says. “Our success here is really shared, and we’re all proud of that.”

Teammate Sharon Mwale SPH ’16 first joined HealthVenture when Muthu hired her as a summer intern. Muthu had served as a teaching assistant in a Yale SOM class in which Mwale was enrolled.

“The experience thrust me into a role and position I hadn’t expected,” Mwale says. “I was challenged in so many ways, and it introduced me to a new career path and new options. I decided to return on a full-time, permanent basis. The camaraderie, the employee-focused environment, and the fast-paced nature of the company are my favorite attributes.”

Muthu himself came to Yale SOM for a career change. Previously with Wells Fargo, he served as head of technology for the bank’s wholesale innovation, research and development, and startup accelerator divisions. He also co-founded and directed the bank’s incubator and labs initiatives, as well as research and development for its services group. Among Muthu’s projects was the creation of clearXchange, a new digital payment platform that linked the United States’ largest banks, helping to modernize and secure the nation’s payment system.

“We’d developed a team that was proven in building and launching financial products,” Muthu says. “I wanted to see if I could apply a similar method of building and launching and transitioning industries in healthcare. I came to Yale to answer that question.”

Muthu, whose parents were nurses, also worked as a medic for seven years. He’s hoping HealthVenture will eventually have a global footprint with local management teams launching startups around the world.

“The Global Network for Advanced Management and the Yale network can make the difference,” he says. “The network offers me a pool of top talent who are passionate about building companies and doing the right thing. At the end of the day, this is about healthcare and about implementing healthcare at a global level. That’s our real mission.”