It’s safe to say that Jasper Health is the biggest startup in Yellow Pine.
Heck, it might be the only startup in Yellow Pine.
That’s not surprising, considering the community had no phone service until the late 1990s, said Adam Pellegrini, cofounder and CEO of the company. Now, it has DSL, and he uses Starlink as a backup.
What Jasper Health is
Jasper Health is an app intended to help people manage their cancer care.
“Jasper starts with the patient first,” Pellegrini said. It’s a platform that connects the patient to various kinds of coaches, as well as its broader healthcare team.
“No one really knows what to do in the unfortunate situation where you have cancer,” Pellegrini said. “Your mind goes blank. It’s an actual physiological change that happens in your mind.”
The app acts as a guide from diagnosis through treatment through remission. “We’re not trying to do second opinions or clinical treatment,” Pellegrini said. Instead, the app offers suggestions and manages aspects such as mental health, diet and nutrition, lifestyle, and how to deal with stress and anxiety. Meanwhile, the various coaches and clinicians using the app can see all of their patients that need help today, as well as those who can wait a little bit.
For example, if a patient is starting chemotherapy, the app will tell them how they should be eating and come up with a diet plan. “It’s all in partnership with the clinicians,” Pellegrini said.
How Jasper Health came to be
Jasper Health was incubated out of a venture firm in New York called Redesign Health, Pellegrini said. The idea came from his cofounder, Kira Wampler, who also worked for Redesign, after serving as chief marketing officer for startups such as Lyft and Trulia. “She had a loved one going through this very terrible experience,” he said. “When this experience happened, she said, ‘I can’t believe there’s not a digital experience to help people in these times right away.’”
For its first year, the firm was headquartered in New York, but Wampler knew she needed a partner who knew the digital health side. “So that’s where she recruited me,” Pellegrini said.
Then two years ago April – perhaps you remember the time – Pellegrini took over as cofounder and CEO.
“We still work almost every day brainstorming,” Pellegrini said.
So how did Pellegrini get involved? And what’s the connection to Yellow Pine?
“I live there part-time,” Pellegrini explained. “My wife’s family actually homesteaded Yellow Pine,” and he and his wife have three cabins of the original homestead. They’re there almost every weekend, even in the winter – when it’s a 4 ½-hour single-lane drive from Eagle – and they live there full time during the summer.
On Pellegrini ‘s grandmother’s side, his family is from New Meadows and worked at the Stibnite mine, not far from Yellow Pine. “My family has been around these parts since the very early days,” he said. While Pellegrini himself traveled around in the military to Tacoma, Chicago, and Texas, “my wife and family have always had property in Yellow Pine,” he said. “Our goal was, ‘how do we get closer to Yellow Pine.’”
Pellegrini has been involved in digital health care for more than 20 years, he said. It includes stints working for the American Cancer Society and Microsoft Health, followed by becoming an executive for Walgreens in Chicago. He built their digital health strategy, then worked for the founder of FitBit, followed by CVS Health and Aetna.
“When this came along, it was all of my former jobs rolled into one,” he said.
The venture firm knew Pellegrini from his previous positions, primarily the Microsoft one, and they knew his track record. “Digital health is a very small world,” he said. So they offered him the position running the company.
The business side
Jasper is already partnering with organizations such as Memorial Sloan Kettering. “Our coaches work with their clinicians to help the patients,” Pellegrini said. Jasper sells its solution to health plans, employers, and health systems for either a license fee or a monthly fee, and those organizations can provide it to their members, patients, or employees. Other partners include Evernorth Health Services and Cigna.
The company started out as a business-to-consumer (B to C) app, but now focuses more on business-to-business (B to B). That said, it still offers a free consumer version. “Anybody, regardless of your health insurance, can use the digital planner, completely free,” Pellegrini said, noting that more than 50 nonprofits partner with the company on the consumer side regardless of customers’ ability to pay.
All told, Jasper Health now touches from 2 to 3 million employee lives, and expects to cover from 7 to 10 million employee lives by the end of the year, Pellegrini said. The B to C side has about 18,000 members.
Pellegrini lucked out with the timing of going for Series A funding, as it was before the recent disturbances in the VC market. “We got $25 million oversubscribed,” he said, which they received in January 2022. “We have runway for quite some time.” That said, he’s looking at another round in Q4 or early next year, he said.
The company is using the funding to build the platform, as well as to hire a sales and commercialization team. “With very big customers and partners, we have to make sure we execute incredibly well,” Pellegrini said. Plus, because it’s healthcare, there are a lot of rules and regulations to follow in the area of security, privacy, and compliance.
In addition, Jasper Health is working with the legal firm of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati to help protect its intellectual property, Pellegrini said. “If you’re raising a round, having a fantastic legal team from Day 1 is important,” he said.
It’s also important to Pellegrini that the company stays headquartered in Idaho. “This is a tech hub, and it will continue to be so, especially with decentralized resources,” he said. With staff members working remotely in places like, oh, let’s say, Yellow Pine, it keeps costs low because the company doesn’t have to buy an office, he said.
So what’s the exit strategy? “We’re not really thinking about that right now,” Pellegrini said. “In the current market, building out a really strong company with the fundamentals is the priority. We have a lot of work to do to prove outcomes and build the company bigger.”
Or, to put it in terms a Yellow Pine boy would understand, “What we’re looking a doing is building our foundation, like a log cabin,” Pellegrini said. “You have to make sure the foundation is rock-solid. Now we need to put those big logs in place, so that sometimes it’s a no-brainer that we’ll partner with someone.”
Written by Sharon Fisher, a digital nomad who writes about entrepreneurship.
This article was created as a collaboration between Boise Entrepreneur Week, Built in Idaho and Trailhead