Kobo’s Serbinis Launches LEAGUE, Announces $4M Seed Round To Transform Healthcare

Michael Serbinis

All eyes are on serial entrepreneur and Kobo Founder Michael Serbinis, as he announces his new adventure LEAGUE INC. this week. LEAGUE is a new digital health and wellness platform backed by a whooping $4M in seed funding, an investment round led by OMERS Ventures with Foundation Capital, Real Ventures and Infinite Potential Group.

Best known as the Founder and CEO of Kobo Inc., a smashing success with 20 million users in 190 countries sold to Japanese company Rakuten, Serbinis decided to step it up and focus on transforming healthcare with LEAGUE. “Healthcare costs are massive and growing at an unsustainable rate. In Canada and the US, about 4 trillion is spent on healthcare, and in the US it’s 17 per cent of GDP and growing, especially with boomers going through the system. While nearly half of those costs are preventable, next to nothing is spent on prevention, because the current health system is all about what happens when you get sick. We’re on an unsustainable track, and this needs to change,” says Michael Serbinis, CEO and Founder, LEAGUE.

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“We’re building a data-rich mobile platform that will focus on prevention and give people the power to take control of their health. We want to help people stay healthy every day, to connect them with a wide range of health professionals and personalized services through easy-to-use mobile experience.”

Collection and centralized control of personal health information sounds like a game-changer in the sea of fragmented experiences currently served through devices and apps like RunKeeper and Jawbone. Given the growing popularity of wearable devices, and high profile claims to the market with Apple’s announcement of Apple Watch and HealthKit, the transformation of health industry looks inevitable. Serbinis wants to tackle health industry from the ground up.

Why health? A few months ago, Serbinis attended a conference in LA and found himself in a room along with a small group of other CEOs, listening to Patrick Soon-Shiong, a successful entrepreneur and physician by trade, who talked about the future of medicine. “I was listening to Patrick as he talked about the future of medicine being personalized, and it occurred to me that we needed to get at that problem not in a thousand years through giant institutional transformation. We need to tackle it from the ground up. It’s about personalized and preventive health,” says Serbinis. He thought about the state of preventative health industry, a fragmented market of small business owners without a modern platform to engage with consumers to help people stay healthy and deliver more personalized service. And he decided to build a platform to empower such interactions and allow people to build a “league of their own”, a personal collection of health professionals that they work with.

“Professionals will have access to any of your health information you decide to share, and you would be in full control of your data. You could start with “I want to go gluten-free” or “I’d like to see physiotherapist in my neighbourhood” and LEAGUE will help you with discovery, scheduling, payments, and keeping track of the programs and exercises. Instead of all the exercises stuck on paper you normally get at a physiotherapist office, you would get those exercises delivered to you as a set of videos or activities you would complete and track every day, and connect it with any health data gathered by wearable devices or apps. The experience will be tied to real activities and sharable with health professionals who would help you reach your health goals,” explains Serbinis.

LEAGUE, currently based out of MaRS, Toronto’s best known innovation hub will be launching in 2015. Serbinis has already began assembling an all-stars team to get LEAGUE off the ground, and thinking about the kind of culture he wants to create. “We have a world-class team building LEAGUE with billions of dollars in exists among us”, laughs Serbinis. “Because we need to build the future of medicine today, right now. We need to decide what the future should be, have a point of view about what should exist and then make it happen.”

 With LEAGUE, health professionals will be able to connect with and provide a rich personalized service to their clients. LEAGUE will make running their business easier every day, and help them to attract new clients that make their health a priority.

“Michael is the epitome of the type of entrepreneur we love to partner with – successful, focused and able to create real products and services that fill a significant market need. LEAGUE has huge potential, and we look forward to partnering with Michael and his team as they build another global success story,” says Kent Thexton, Managing Director, OMERS Ventures, early investors in the seed round of the company.

LEAGUE is currently accepting applications from health professionals and people interested in joining its beta program at www.JOINLEAGUE.com. The platform will launch in early 2015.

Elena Yunusov

Elena Yunusov

Elena Yunusov works at the intersection of digital communications and experience design. She is known in Toronto’s startup community as a HoHoTO & Toronto Maker Faire co-organizer. She likes coffee, robots, and wearable tech.