Shining a Spotlight on the RISE Founders

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At the UCSF Rosenman Institute, our mission is to provide ambitious innovators with the resources to develop their products and achieve their goals. We’re aware it can be difficult for underrepresented individuals to break into the health tech industry, as they often face challenges regarding investment attainability and a lack of diversity among executives in the medical field. This is why, earlier this year, we launched the UCSF Rosenman RISE Program, a 3-month program that provides underrepresented entrepreneurs with community, networking opportunities, and specialized mentorship. 

Through RISE, we identify promising entrepreneurs from groups that are underrepresented in health tech—such as women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ individuals—and connect them with any number of leaders from the UCSF network and beyond. These leaders, who are carefully assigned to program participants based on personal background and area of expertise, provide entrepreneurs with professional guidance and strategic support. Entrepreneurs also gain access to the ever-growing UCSF Rosenman network of innovators and investors.

We welcomed the first cohort of RISE founders in April of this year. Over the past few months, these five entrepreneurs have made tremendous progress in expanding their company outreach and forging important connections in the healthcare field. Their mentors have helped them in a variety of ways, such as providing crucial marketing advice or introducing them to major stakeholders and industry experts.

“Our lead mentor, Santiago, was absolutely paramount to our company meeting our next major milestone,” says James Lott, founder and CEO of Script Health. “He rolled up his sleeves and helped connect us to the right people. We couldn’t have done it without him.”

One critical aspect of the RISE program is providing pitch feedback to entrepreneurs seeking funding for their startups. Both Crystal Nyitray of Encillin and Cyrell Roberson of Jubily cited pitch and development coaching as one of the most substantial ways their mentors were able to assist them. Under the guidance of their chief mentors, both were able to refine and differentiate their pitch decks and practice presenting them to customer segments. 

In addition to providing networking opportunities and pitch feedback, RISE mentors also act as personal business advisors for their entrepreneurs. Gabriel Sanchez, CEO and co-founder of Enspectra Health, says, “My chief mentor Marc has a wealth of broad experience and we got along seamlessly. He was a driving force behind the RISE program and has a strong motivation to improve representation in medtech.” Similarly, Anna Lisa Somera of Rhaeos says, “It’s comforting to be able to talk openly with others who have gone through or are going through various start-up challenges like me. In many ways, we grew together.”

The RISE Program has made an undeniable impact on these founders, and we can’t wait to watch their companies continue to flourish. We hope to further expand this program next year, so more talented, underrepresented innovators can be given a chance to shine.

This year’s RISE Founders are: