How Y Combinator’s founder-matching service helped medical records AI startup Hona land $3M

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Y Combinator is famend in Silicon Valley for lots of causes, however there’s one service that has quietly turn into one in all its strongest: a web based founder-matching device.

“I believe that is probably the most precious digital product that YC has constructed (i.e. extra precious than Bookface, and many others.). It’s astonishing what number of founders I meet who met one another on the YC co-founder matching platform,” tweeted seed investor Nikhil Basu Trivedi. (Bookface refers to YC’s famed on-line assortment of how-to startup recommendation for its program contributors.) 

Current Y Combinator grad Hona is an instance, though its founders’ meet-cute story is a little more thrilling than simply utilizing that device.

Hona is a GenAI medical information startup. It integrates into a number of digital information programs after which summarizes a affected person’s medical information, serving to docs prep for the affected person’s go to. 

It was initially based by two pals who’ve recognized one another since center faculty, Danielle Yoesep and Adam Steinle. They reconnected after graduating school and respective early careers in tech and biotech. Steinle had been a biomedical engineer, Goldman banker and massive tech product supervisor at Fb. Yoesep was a scientist for a biotech startup that had simply been acquired. They had been hanging out with their highschool pals whereas dwelling for Thanksgiving, chatting about eager to do a startup when the thought for Hona arose. Whereas neither of them are docs themselves, each had relations who’re docs or in healthcare and so they quickly settled on an thought: AI to help docs with affected person information summaries.

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They knew they wanted an AI specialist co-founder, so signed up on the Y Combinator Co‑Founder Matching Platform. They discovered one in Shuying Zhang, who additionally knew she needed to do a startup, one thing in healthcare and AI, and had signed up on the service. Zhang’s background mixed biomedical engineering and software program improvement, most just lately engaged on AI at Google, and he or she was at Amazon previous to that.

What got here subsequent was a course of that sounds a bit like Tinder for co-founders. 

Yoesep and Steinle swiped by way of profiles within the matching device as did Zhang. Every of them held a number of meet-and-greets with potential co-founders. When Zhang met with Yoesep and Steinle, they immediately clicked so nicely that the long-time pals supplied Zhang a full one-third share of the corporate.

“We actually met one another and like three weeks later, we’re jobless, attempting to construct this,” Steinle informed TechCrunch.

Having met on Y Combinator, with their backgrounds in tech, they had been precisely the kind of startup certain to be accepted into the aggressive program. They instantly utilized to YC for the Summer season 2023 batch.

And they had been promptly rejected.

So that they set to work on their very own, constructing a prototype, displaying it to their community of docs, incomes strong opinions and elevating a small seed spherical. 

About 4 months later, they utilized to YC once more for the winter 2024 batch, and had been accepted. One of many causes they acquired within the second time, Yoesep recalled, was that they by no means modified instructions, or by no means pivoted, to make use of the hackneyed Silicon Valley time period. One more reason was “because of our dynamic throughout our interview, displaying that we had grown shut and loved working collectively,” she stated.

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Issues began cooking for them after that. Medical docs at Duke and Harvard agreed to check the product and write a white paper, attributable to publish later this month. Some angels who had been recognized within the tech and biotech worlds invested. And by the point Hona graduated from YC and did its famed Demo Day, it had already raised a $3 million seed spherical from Normal Catalyst (which is pursuing well being tech so significantly it purchased a hospital system), Samsung, Insurgent Fund (based by Reddit co-founder Steve Huffman and Cruise co-founder Daniel Kan), Allegis Capital and 1984 Ventures.

Hona nonetheless has a tricky highway forward. AI for medical transcription is an more and more crowded discipline. Large cloud suppliers like Google and Amazon are providing such instruments and dozens of startups are tackling it, too

However Steinle says that Hona will compete as a result of it’s “tremendous customizable” to go looking by way of medical information for the particular information a specific physician wants previous to seeing a affected person. A heart specialist would get a unique abstract than a nephrologist. As an example, the upcoming white paper is on kidney stone referrals, so “so we’re pulling stuff like what number of millimeters was the stone on the best right here?” Steinle describes.

As for Zhang, her recommendation for others who dream of doing a startup, and are contemplating utilizing YC’s matching device, is to “simply exit and take a look at,” she says. “When you begin working with folks, you’ll shortly have a superb sense whether or not you get alongside. You’ll know straight away.”

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