June 12, 2015      

Cory Kidd has been on one heck of a journey getting his Catalia Health a decent chunk of VC money.

It’s taken him a while. Back in 2007, his then company, Intuitive Automata, created, as he puts it, “Interactive robotic coaches to help people with long-term healthcare challenges.” That was eight years ago. Even longer if he goes back to his time spent with Cynthia Breazeal (creator of home robot Jibo) at MIT’s Media Lab, all of which adds up to nearly twenty years; all spent working on how to apply robotics to improve personal health. Four-and-a-half of those years, Kidd worked with the Media Lab and Boston University Medical Center to develop a series of robots to serve as weight-loss coaches for overweight patients. The end result from those days: Autom, a home robot for the overweight.

One year after starting his newest venture, Catalia Health (2014), Kidd, as founder and CEO, has closed on $1.25 million in seed funding from Khosla Ventures and other investors to bring his life’s work to market. It’s certainly not a boatload of money by anyone’s standards, but he says it’s enough to finance the alpha prototype of his newest robot and scale production into marketable products sometime this year. This newest healthcare robot is named Mabu. Mabu provides information and support for sufferers of chronic diseases like diabetes, arthritis, cancer, heart disease, and obesity. Mabu is sort of a sidekick for at-home, at-risk chronic disease patients.

“It’s about augmenting doctors and helping them manage a large group of patients much more effectively,” says Kidd.

Is there a need for Mabu?

The National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion seems to think so: Chronic diseases and conditions–such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and arthritis–are among the most common, costly, and preventable of all health problems.

  • As of 2012, about half of all adults–117 million people–had one or more chronic health conditions. One of four adults had two or more chronic health conditions.
  • Seven of the top 10 causes of death in 2010 were chronic diseases. Two of these chronic diseases–heart disease and cancer–together accounted for nearly 48% of all deaths.
  • Obesity is a serious health concern. During 2009-2010, more than one-third of adults, or about 78 million people, were obese (defined as body mass index [BMI] 30 kg/m2). Nearly one of five youths aged 2-19 years was obese (BMI 95th percentile).
  • Arthritis is the most common cause of disability.4 Of the 53 million adults with a doctor diagnosis of arthritis, more than 22 million say they have trouble with their usual activities because of arthritis.
  • Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, lower-limb amputations other than those caused by injury, and new cases of blindness among adults.

Kidd would like to see them all with a Mabu.