Fast-growing startup graduates from Florida Innovation Hub at UF, moves to downtown Gainesville
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Shadow Health Inc., a virtual education and training company based on University of Florida computer-programming technology, will graduate from the Florida Innovation Hub at UF at 4:30 p.m. Thursday with an informal ceremony in the lobby.
“This early-stage company, now a viable, fully independent enterprise, is moving into a vacant building in downtown Gainesville,” said Jane Muir, director of the Florida Innovation Hub. “The entire community can be proud of that.”
Shadow Health is one of about two dozen startup companies located in the Florida Innovation Hub at UF, a unique incubator for tech startups and the first building in Innovation Square.
The ultimate goal for these businesses is to “graduate” – or move out of the Innovation Hub — once they become self-sufficient.
“I think that the goal was to be here as short as possible, but we let the commercial process dictate the timeline,” said Shadow Health CEO David Massias. “We’re ready.”
Massias established the virtual education company in June 2011, shortly after working with UF Office of Technology Licensing staff to license technology developed by researchers on campus.
Since moving into the Innovation Hub in October 2011, Shadow has received two rounds of financing that total more than $1 million; hired 19 new employees, including its core management team; conducted extensive beta testing on three prototypes; and launched its signature product — interactive software that uses a virtual patient to teach students in the health care fields effective communication and assessment skills.
In less than a year, Shadow has made significant improvements to “Tina Jones” — the digital standardized patient featured in its communication training software — and added three offices as it began to outgrow its workspace.
Now the company is ready to leave its home on the second floor of the Innovation Hub for a larger location in downtown Gainesville.
The company will soon move to the old Rice Hardware building, vacant since American Apparel moved out more than a year ago. Shadow will rent half of the 6,000-square-foot building at 15 SW First Ave., allowing plenty of room for future expansion.
A serial entrepreneur, Massias is excited about his company’s achievements to date and knows the work has only just begun.
“Success to me is incremental,” Massias said. “I don’t ever view myself as a success.”
He said he expects that Shadow will need to expand again in about a year as market demand for the educational software has exceeded his initial expectations. Revenue was not expected until January 2013, but the company already has paying customers for its flagship product – software that guides students as they learn how to interview patients and examine bodily systems. Most of these customers are nursing schools, but Massias plans to target medical schools, physician-assistant schools and pharmacy schools sometime in the next six months.
“There are better ways to prepare students to communicate with and examine patients,” Massias said. “We provide clinical tools that students can use and experience prior to being in front of a real patient.”
He added that his products will enhance learning, save faculty time and increase patient safety.