Wellness incubator WellTech launches with 2 startups

By Brian Dolan
06:40 pm
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WellTech Funding incubatorThis week a new wellness-focused incubator for startups launched in New York City: WellTech Funding. The six-month long incubation program seeks startups focused on consumer wellness solutions, including new online platforms, services, web or mobile apps or other consumer tools and products. The program is looking for both consumer-facing products and services as well as B2B offerings for wellness businesses.

"The most competitive candidates will be tackling an untapped market opportunity — or unsolved problem — within the expansive wellness market, and will be led by hard-working, passionate founders and teams," WellTech states on its website. "WellTech Funding seeks companies and solutions that are bold, but actually buildable, i.e., those with capital-efficient business models that can make major progress during the six-month WellTech-acceleration process."

WellTech is just the latest health-related incubator to join the ranks of San Francisco-based Rock Health, New York-based Blueprint Health, and Chicago-based Healthbox. StartUp Health also recently announced its first class of entrepreneurs for its three-year "academy" program. Welltech claims to be different from existing incubators and programs because of its focus on wellness. Other incubators may include some startups with a wellness focus, but WellTech aims to exclusively focus on prevention and wellbeing.

WellTech participants will receive a minimum of $50,000 in capital, according to the incubator, which will then receive an unspecified stake in the company as well as rights to participation in future rounds of funding.

The organization has already announced its first two startups: FITist and Wizpert:

FITist: "Members book all their classes and manage their schedule on FITiST's universal fitness calendar, the first centralized calendar for the boutique fitness industry. FITiST also has created a black book of the top personal fitness, wellness and beauty services that can be added to any plan. Currently in beta in New York City and Los Angeles, FITiST plans to expand to other cities nationwide in the near future."

Wizpert: "Platform that instantly connects advice seekers with qualified experts for a real-time conversation on a wide range of topics, from nutrition and exercise to cooking and parenting. The platform allows highly rated experts to monetize their advice by joining Wizpert and placing a customized button on their blogs. There are also hundreds of “wizperts” available for free. Wizpert is backed by New York City-based Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator. The iPhone app will be released in April 2012."

WellTech was founded by the executives behind SpaFinder, a spa and wellness resource.

More details in the press release below:

PRESS RELEASE: New York, NY (March 26, 2012) – WellTech, a new health and wellness-focused incubator, is launching today with a duo of startups dedicated to changing how consumers pursue healthy living, FITiST and Wizpert.

Headquartered in New York’s Gramercy neighborhood, WellTech is founded by investors and executives behind SpaFinder, Inc., the world’s leading spa and wellness resource, and GramercyOne, whose cloud-based business management software is used by more than 5,800 spas, gyms, medical practices and other local service businesses worldwide.

According to WellTech founder Pete Ellis, the incubator will provide startups with strategic guidance, such as industry expertise and networking, office space, mentoring and marketing support, including exposure to a vast audience of wellness consumers and businesses at SpaFinder.com and via business-to-consumer and business-to-business database marketing. WellTech participants will receive a minimum $50,000 in capital to help them grow their business and also will have potential access to future rounds of capital from WellTech and other introduced investors if business models continue to generate positive interest in the industry or among consumers.

While the incubator will expand to include additional wellness startups in the coming months, its initial participants are:

FITiST (www.FITiST.com): Capitalizing on the rise of boutique fitness and aiming to reinvent the traditional gym membership, FITiST provides members with one-stop access to the best-of-the-best boutique studios. Members can create their own fitness and wellness plan or select a plan curated by FITiST experts like celebrity trainers Andrea Orbeck and Ramona Braganza and nutritionist Oz Garcia. Members book all their classes and manage their schedule on FITiST's universal fitness calendar, the first centralized calendar for the boutique fitness industry. FITiST also has created a black book of the top personal fitness, wellness and beauty services that can be added to any plan. Currently in beta in New York City and Los Angeles, FITiST plans to expand to other cities nationwide in the near future.

Wizpert (www.wizpert.com): Dedicated to providing users with immediate access to experts, Wizpert is the first platform that instantly connects advice seekers with qualified experts for a real-time conversation on a wide range of topics, from nutrition and exercise to cooking and parenting. The platform allows highly rated experts to monetize their advice by joining Wizpert and placing a customized button on their blogs. There are also hundreds of “wizperts” available for free. Wizpert is backed by New York City-based Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator. The iPhone app will be released in April 2012.

WellTech is financed by Jubilee Investments, an investment firm led by Ellis, who is also the CEO of SpaFinder. Jubilee recently saw success as the early stage investor in GramercyOne. Last fall, GramercyOne announced US$14.5 million in Series A funding led by Steve Case’s Revolution Ventures, GroTech, TD Capital and Jubilee.

“The phenomenal success of SpaFinder and GramercyOne showed us that technology holds enormous potential for helping people lead healthier lives,” Ellis said. “New York City is home to some of the most creative innovators in both the technology and wellness sectors, and we look forward to working with them to take wellness-related technology and services to an exciting new level.”

Ellis became chairman and CEO of SpaFinder in 2001 and has since transformed the company into a spa and wellness powerhouse boasting partnerships with more than 12,000 spa and wellness business worldwide. He has been honored by Advertising Age as one of the top marketers in the U.S., and his Internet technology innovations have been made part of the Permanent Research Collection at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

Companies, entrepreneurs and startups interested in applying to be part of WellTech can visit www.welltechfunding.com/how.html or contact Andrea Persily at 212-716-1203, or Andrea@welltechfunding.com.

About Jubilee Investments

Jubilee Investments, founded in 1999 and located in New York City, invests in early stage technology companies with a focus on new consumer marketing models. Owned by the Ellis Family Trust and managed by Pete Ellis, Jubilee, through its early stage investments in GramercyOne LLC, is the largest single shareholder of GramercyOne Technology Corp, and, via a direct investment, is the largest shareholder in SpaFinder, Inc.

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