Former NFL star invests in Cal grad’s injury recovery startup
After Foster’s October injury, Foster was approached by PeerWell, a health technology company pioneering recovery improvement from surgery and specializing in a revolutionary pre-surgery treatment program called PreHab.
From a group of co-founders that includes UC Berkeley alumnus Manish Shah ’05, PeerWell was founded by a team that knows a thing or two about building successful companies. Shah founded his first company in 2005 out of his bedroom as a senior at UC Berkeley. With the help of fellow Berkeley alumni Auren Hoffman ’98, Vivek Sodera ’06, and Dayo Esho ’05, Shah spent the next six years building LiveRamp, one of the earliest companies to focus on data on-boarding for small, medium, and large businesses. With over $45 million in venture backing from a slate of investors including Peter Thiel, Founder’s Fund, Felicis Ventures, and others, LiveRamp was acquired by Acxiom in 2014 for a reported $310 million.
It didn’t take long for Shah to launch his next venture, and again, he’s in good company: PeerWell co-founder Evan Minamoto was the first design hire at now-unicorn startup Palantir; co-founder Navin Gupta brings a decade’s worth of healthcare industry relationships and marketing expertise; and healthcare startup guru Mike Ryan rounds out the team with 25 years of experience leading hospitals, health systems, and healthcare technology companies.
Bringing together Shah’s experience leveraging data to solve problems, Gupta’s healthcare industry expertise, and Minamoto’s design prowess, the PeerWell app uses machine learning and a library of expert-vetted, evidence-based medical content proven to better the results of surgery and speed-up recovery. The PreHab program consists of personalized diet and exercise plans, mindfulness-based pain management training, and a host of other activities that comprise a pre-surgery program designed to provide the body with the building-blocks it needs to repair itself as efficiently as possible.
Foster isn’t alone in singing PeerWell’s praises. Detroit Lions safety Glover Quin and Houston Texans offensive tackle Duane Brown have also publicly credited PeerWell with accelerating their recoveries.
All three were surprised by the results. Quin bounced back from ankle surgery much earlier than he expected. Brown is recovering from surgery on a torn quadriceps tendon far ahead of schedule. Foster returned to training only five months after surgery and has started visiting with NFL teams. “I’ve had 14 surgeries over the course of my career,” said Foster. “I thought I had tried everything, but when PeerWell approached me with their PreHab program, it just made a lot of sense and has made this the most successful recovery of my career.”
Foster was so impressed with the program that he decided to personally invest in the company – in part, to expand access to a type of medical care that many would like to see become standard practice. “I wanted…to bring medical care that elite athletes have access to, to the masses. There are 50 million surgeries a year and PreHab could help each one – whether you’re an athlete or someone having a routine hip or knee replacement.”
Foster elaborated on this idea in an interview with Inc.: “I’ve been approached by so many people, but my investments, LearnVest, Health Warrior, PeerWell, SmartyPants Vitamins, Juciero, etc. are companies that are providing social good for everyday people,” adds Foster. “Whether it’s providing healthy food and vitamin options, providing access to financial planning to everyone, or PeerWell, a company helping the masses discover the healthcare benefits [of] PreHab…every investment is rooted in my personal conquest to help people live better lives. You can do good by doing good.”
Doing well by doing good is Shah’s motivation too: “The idea that we can develop world class technology that benefits society at large was instilled in me from the first day I stepped foot on [the UC Berkeley] campus,” Shah shared. “You are surrounded by the best minds and pushed to do more than just build things, but to build things that have a larger purpose and can impact the world. UC Berkeley has held this high standard for over a hundred years and I’m honored to do my part to add to that legacy.”
Shah is adding to that legacy in more ways than one. In 2013, he was one of the first Berkeley alumni to make the Berkeley Founders’ Pledge –a commitment to connect to Berkeley early, and give back when you can. After Shah completed this pledge in 2014, he doubled down on his commitment, making another Founders’ Pledge on behalf of PeerWell. It’s this spirit of generosity that makes PeerWell’s blue and gold light shine.
PeerWell PreHab is currently available to patients with a scheduled hip or knee replacement surgery. If you or someone you know is undergoing this procedure, introduce them to the idea of PreHab. PreHab can have a massive impact on surgery results and recovery time.
Interested in joining Manish in his commitment to Cal? Make the Berkeley Founders Pledge and have an impact from Day One of your latest venture.