Dallas-based Mend, the on-demand urgent care startup that uses an app to send a practitioner to a patient’s location, has had an active few months. Children’s Health System of Texas recently acquired a majority interest in the company, giving it the capital to scale its model across Dallas-Fort Worth. It also placed second in a pitch competition with more than 4,500 others at South by Southwest back in March, which D Healthcare Daily covered last month.
Recently, its CEO, Dr. Jonathan Clarke, dropped by the studios of D CEO media partner KRLD-FM to speak with David Johnson as part of his CEO Spotlight series. That conversation is below. It’s been edited for length and clarity.
David Johnson: You know, a few months ago we talked to Dr. Jonathan Clarke. He’s the CEO founder of a fascinating startup around here called, Mend at home. Think of Uber meeting an urgent care, doc-in-a-box. They’ll come and make house calls. Well things taking off, they’ve got a lot of sponsorship, but a big win last month at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival. There were I think at one point, probably a 1,000 different companies competing for some recognition and coming out on top is well, Mend at Home, and Dr. Clarke joins us right now for a follow up. Good to have you with us.
Jonathan Clarke: It’s great to be here. Thanks so much for the opportunity again.
Johnson: Yeah so first of all, lets talk about this SXSW competition that was going on. Is this like Shark Tank or something?
Clarke: Not quite like Shark Tank, this was a pitch competition of course, but not aimed at getting any investment from the crowd. This was really more sort of awareness, a spotlight of up-and-coming technology and service industry companies. And so it’s held on the first day of SXSW Interactive Festival. As you may know, there are several components to SXSW. A lot of people consider South By a big film and music festival, but there is a growing interactive festival as well, which highlights technology. So we were part of that interactive festival and on that first day we participated in a pitch competition. A three-minute pitch to industry leaders and we were one of over 4,500 international companies selected as the top 10 finalists. After that three-minute pitch we were judged as the runner up, second place out of all those candidates. It’s a really, really exciting win for us.
Johnson: So the recognition is important because as you build this company, you need some sponsorship, some funding, but also you need some advocates. You think you are going to get out of them?
Clarke: Absolutely. We are really pleased with the publicity that we got around that. Within 24 to 48 hours we were featured in the Dallas Morning News, and the Dallas Business Journal, and Culture Map. That’s really what this is about for us, is really the awareness that this new delivery model in healthcare exists and that it’s validated and really getting a lot of steam.
Johnson: And again, just for the listeners, think of an old fashioned house call. Somebody will come by your house and you know, check and see if you’ve got the flu and see if you need shot, something we hadn’t heard of for a long time. So the last time we spoke you’d worked out a deal with Children’s Medical Center. How’s that working out and what’s coming up next?
Clarke: Well you’re absolutely right. We are just so honored to be a part of the Children’s Health family now. And that provides us a lot of infrastructure and support that we might not otherwise have and that allows us to do things like insurance integration and really build out sort of that be a part of that larger vision of Children’s health and take care of children and their families.
Johnson: Yeah, I mean that was one of the things we talked about insurance integration and getting accepted on different platforms. So that has come about?
Clarke: Well we are working on that. We are talking to several major insurers right now. Probably by the middle of the year, we’ll be in network with insurers here in North Texas.
Johnson: This struck us as a portable concept. I mean you can do it in Austin, you can do it in Salt Lake City. Any sense of expansion yet? Have you got the model down the way you want it?
Clarke: Well this, as you mentioned, is a crowded field and a rapidly growing field. And so we’re seeing this concept pop up in a number of U.S. cities, and we are the only practice that’s integrated with a health system. I think that’s important because of not only just the validity of the brand there, but really being integrated with a health system allows us to do things like insurance integration, and integrate with those brick and mortar systems as well as alternative forms of care like telemedicine and really be deeply embedded in the community. We are refining our business model and the value proposition for our consumers. We are continuing to work with Children’s to refine that entire user experience before we start looking at other opportunities across the U.S. We are certainly eyeing places, other places in Texas and across the U.S. But really we just want to make sure we’re providing the highest level of quality here in Dallas first.
Johnson: Well you’re obviously pretty good at making elevator pitches, if you could come out so well at SXSW. You’ve got this planned again anytime soon?
Clarke: Well thank you. We are going to be at the Collision Conference in New Orleans, in April. That’s less of a pitch competition and more of a technology spotlight. No other pitch competitions coming up though, that I’m aware of.
Johnson: Okay well maybe we can get you on Shark Tank. Maybe Mark Cuban’s a listener.