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 change into one in all its strongest: an internet founder-matching device.

“I feel that is probably the most priceless digital product that YC has constructed (i.e. extra priceless than Bookface, and so forth.). 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.) 

Latest 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 data startup. It integrates into a number of digital data techniques after which summarizes a affected person’s medical data, serving to docs prep for the affected person’s go to. 

It was initially based by two mates who’ve identified one another since center college, 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 have been hanging out with their highschool mates whereas residence for Thanksgiving, chatting about eager to do a startup when the concept for Hona arose. Whereas neither of them are docs themselves, each had relations who’re docs or in healthcare they usually quickly settled on an concept: AI to help docs with affected person knowledge summaries.

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 wished 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 growth, most lately engaged on AI at Google, and she or he 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 mates provided Zhang a full one-third share of the corporate.

“We actually met one another and like three weeks later, we’re jobless, making an attempt to construct this,” Steinle instructed Trendster.

Having met on Y Combinator, with their backgrounds in tech, they have 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 have been promptly rejected.

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

About 4 months later, they utilized to YC once more for the winter 2024 batch, and have been accepted. One of many causes they bought 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. Another excuse was “because of our dynamic throughout our interview, displaying that we had grown shut and loved working collectively,” she stated.

Issues began cooking for them after that. Medical docs at Duke and Harvard agreed to check the product and write a white paper, on account of publish later this month. Some angels who have been identified 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 severely 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 street 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 data for the particular knowledge a selected physician wants previous to seeing a affected person. A heart specialist would get a special abstract than a nephrologist. For 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 proper 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 check out,” she says. “When you begin working with individuals, you’ll rapidly have a very good sense whether or not you get alongside. You’ll know immediately.”

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