Seattle super angels make house call to Silicon Valley’s PokitDok

Many Seattle entrepreneurs head south to Silicon Valley when raising financing, tapping into the region’s ranks of well-connected angels. But PokitDok, a Silicon Valley startup that just landed $450,000, took a more unusual course during its recent financing round.

It knocked on doors in Seattle.

Co-founder Lisa Maki, who actually grew up in tiny Indianola, Washington and spent a good chunk of her career in the consumer products group at Microsoft, certainly had some strong connections in the region. And she used those to raise money for PokitDok.

Among the investors in the company’s latest round are Picnik co-founder and Google employee Jonathan Sposato (also an investor in GeekWire) and Seattle super angel Geoff Entress. Maki says that other Seattle area angels also are participating in the deal, but she declined to name them at this time. Charles River Ventures also is backing the company, which maintains operations in both the Bay Area and Charleston, South Carolina.

Geoff Entress

Charleston isn’t really known as a startup hub, but that happens to be the home of Maki’s co-founder and CTO Ted Tanner Jr. He too previously worked at Microsoft.

Given all of the Seattle connections, why is the company in the Valley?

Maki said they analyzed where to locate PokitDok, but decided as a consumer-facing health startup that the Valley made the most sense from an infrastructure and customer acquisition standpoint.

Founded in August, PokitDok is creating a new way for consumers to find healthcare services and the best pricing. Users can search by diagnosis, practitioner and treatments, with reviews and ratings from those in the community providing additional information.

That means users could find the best chiropractors or dermatologists or massage therapists, and also research the price of those services so people can better decide what treatments make the most sense.

Maki said that they are providing information on most diseases and ailments, though extremely complex disease won’t be included at launch.

“Straight out of the box, we will target those diagnoses that are easy to provide clear and direct information to, so anything that involves a diagnostic test or a prescription drug …. or anything that is semi-elective or elective,” said Maki.

The information is tailored for those in a specific geographic market, with the company collecting the pricing information through various channels. Maki said that the company is investigating a number of business models, adding that PokitDok could generate revenue by passing business on to practitioner partners. It’s also considering a new loyalty-based shopping experience for PokitDok members.

The eight-person company is one of a number of new companies looking to transform the way people find health care information, and in some ways it is reminiscent of Seattle’s own RealSelf (which happens to specialize in the cosmetic surgery niche); Navigating Cancer; and Adam Doppelt’s new project PickHealthInsurance.

PokitDok is going to try to go deeper than both of those offerings, with plans to launch a trial of the service next year in Los Angeles.

At Microsoft, Maki worked directly with Melinda Gates and headed up the kids’ product unit before leaving in 1996. She returned to Microsoft and later founded BeliefNetworks with Tanner, which was sold to Benifitfocus last year.

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