Editor's note: In this week's roundup of Houston innovators to know, I'm introducing you to three local innovators across industries recently making headlines in Houston across business, software, and digital health.
Peter Rodriguez joins the Houston Innovators Podcast to discuss the school's growth and development as an innovation leader. Photo courtesy Annie Tao/Rice University
Entrepreneurship doesn't require a MBA from Rice University, but Dean Peter Rodriguez wants to make sure that the students who do pass through the halls of the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business are well prepared for creating a successful company.
"We really want to be the deliverer of the software in people's brain of how to launch great companies and to be trumpeting the opportunities here," he says on the Houston Innovators Podcast.
Rodriguez joined the school as dean in 2016, and since then he's doubled MBA enrollment, grown the tenure-track faculty by over 40 percent, launched an online graduate degree, created an undergraduate business major, and more.
"When I came here, I thought Rice had the best strategic foundation of any university for a great business school — and a lot of that is being really closely connected to Houston and bringing in innovation," he says on the show. Read more.
WellnessWits, founded by Kike Oduba to enhance patient-physician interaction, has integrated AI with the help of IBM. Photo via WellnessWits.com
A Houston startup aimed at transforming healthcare with solutions for chronic disease and its prevention has teamed up with IBM technology.
WellnessWits has embedded IBM watsonx Assistant into its app for both iOS and Android. By making generative AI part of the app, WellnessWits now boasts an AI-based chat functionality.
That cutting-edge aspect of the platform allows patients to get information on chronic disease more quickly than ever, even before meeting with their physician. But it helps with that, too, aiding in scheduling appointments more easily with doctors who specialize in a host of chronic maladies.
“I founded WellnessWits as a platform for shared medical appointments where doctors with large patient loads can see them in groups and offer collective shared medical experiences to people suffering from chronic conditions. The goal is to bridge this divide, leveraging the strength of digital communities to enhance the overall well-being and healthcare experiences of individuals everywhere,” WellnessWits Founder and CEO Dr. Kike Oduba, a physician and informatician, writes in a blog post. Read more.
Fresh off a win at the Houston Innovation Awards, Phil Sitter's RepeatMD has raised funding. Photo via RepeatMD
Just nine months after its seed round, a Houston startup with a software platform for the aesthetic and wellness industry has secured $40 million in venture capital and $10 million in debt facility.
RepeatMD, a SaaS platform, announced today that it's secured $50 million, which includes a $10 million debt facility from Silicon Valley Bank. The round was co-led by Centana Growth Partners and Full In Partners with participation from PROOF and Mercury Fund, which also contributed to the seed round earlier this year.
The mobile ecommerce platform, launched in October 2021 by Phil Sitter, targets practices within the med spa and aesthetics industry. In the United States, the med spa market is slated to hit $19 billion in 2023, according to the company's press release, while the global aesthetics market is forecasted to reach to nearly $332 billion by 2030.
“Even though the aesthetics and wellness industry has continued to innovate a growing range of life-changing treatments, practices continue to face challenges selling treatments and services that are new and unfamiliar to patients,” Sitter, CEO of RepeatMD, says in the release. “Our goal at RepeatMD is to give these practice owners the technology to elevate their patients’ experience. Our platform serves as a med-commerce engine equipped with the same firepower as large retailers to convert sales inside and outside of practice operating hours.” Read more.