By Eve Phillips (Co-Founder & CEO, Empower Interactive)
My background includes computer science degrees from MIT, an MBA from Stanford, and a number of roles in both software/internet operational positions (product management at Trilogy, strategy at Microsoft, CEO at Chirp) as well as on tech investing teams (Vector, Greylock).
These would have set me up well to continue to work in pure-play internet businesses, but I have always been fascinated by psychology and cognitive science… from taking a high school summer class on psychology, to focusing on artificial intelligence at MIT and sneaking “across the street” at Stanford to take Symbolic Systems classes.
Why Empower Interactive
When it came time to come up with a new startup concept, I had seen enough about interesting new developments in areas like cognitive fitness to hypothesize that there must be something interesting to build in the intersection of the internet and cognitive science. A friend at the MIT Media Lab introduced me to the area of software-assisted psychotherapy, and I was hooked.
The idea that we could transition even part of the huge market for mental and behavioral health solutions, from traditional economic models like talk therapy and drugs to the internet, by translating proven therapeutic methodologies into e-learning formats, was too intriguing to pass up.
Fast forward a year or so and we have a working product, ongoing pilots, and several deals we’ll announce over the next few months.
More importantly, by changing the economics and accessibility of solutions to these problems, we can improve the lives of millions of people.
I have learned to a lot about finding teammates with complementary skills and the adventure of introducing a new approach to an established sector — listen first and talk later.
Editor’s note: Health information technology startups are encouraged to apply to DC to VC: HIT Startup Showcase, a competition open to any US entrepreneur seeking seed or Series A funding for startups applying cutting-edge technology to improve the quality and effectiveness of healthcare. Deadline to apply is August 9, 2011. For more info and to apply, click here.
About the guest blogger: Eve Phillips is the Co-Founder & CEO of Empower Interactive, provider of online service for managing stress, anxiety and depression. Previous experience includes software strategy and product management (at eCert, Chirp, Zazzle, Microsoft, and Trilogy), and technology investing (Greylock, Vector, Amadeus, and Inflection). Eve holds a B.S. & M.Eng in Computer Science from MIT, and an MBA from Stanford. Follow her startup on Twitter at @empowerco.