Passion about health equity for all, UC San Diego Internal Medicine physician Moyo has dedicated his life to delivering health to those that need it most. This is the focus of Welfie, a community health platform delivering health equity to families.
Welfie provides health data assessments, insights, and resources to help people who care for kids make better health decisions. Equity-based, the whole school health platform helps school and district leaders understand what is going on in their communities so they can design better programs and put resources where they’re most needed.
A Welfie is a “Wellness Selfie” - a daily snapshot that gives providers insights into the health, wellness, and learning readiness of your school community. Welfie is purpose-built to address issues of health and education inequity. Moyo and his team think about this every day…and in everything they do.
Read more on his entrepreneurial journey below, from UC San Diego Internal Medicine board-certified physician to current participant of UC San Diego’s Investment Prep program, offering customized support for raising investment capital.
What has been your experience with UC San Diego and its diverse entrepreneurial culture?
My journey at UC San Diego started when I attended San Diego Startup Month in 2019 where UC San Diego had a presence. I met Shane Moise of the Office of Innovation and Commercialization who introduced me to the startup ecosystem. He has been a real champion for us introducing us to investors through the Investment Prep program. It has been great working with Mark Leibowitz and Paul Shockley.
"UC San Diego’s Investment Prep gets you ready to pitch and more primed for investment,” said Moyo. “The team offers unwavering support, but they do it in a way that sharpens steel.”
The program gets you ready to pitch and more primed for investment. The team offers unwavering support, but they do it in a way that sharpens steel. They are direct, they are focused, sometimes brutally honest but it all comes from a place of respect. The experience is highly informative and of high value to an entrepreneur. Plus, I’ve met other amazing entrepreneurs in the ecosystem through their support.
What excites you about your work?
It's the people we are working with, particularly the K-12 school districts with a focus on the health of kids. We have incredible student interns who help us understand what high school kids and young adults are going through. They are fearless, it's really refreshing to have this perspective on the world. You need to be fearless as a startup.
We were one of a few companies accepted to the MassChallenge Health Tech Accelerator to be offered two partnerships. The competition is a reverse pitch competition where organizations like hospitals and government are asked what their problems are first…and how startups can help them with their issues. We have a fantastic chance to collaborate with the City of Boston and Department of Health and Human Services, addressing health equity through health data at both the municipal and federal government level.
Describe a typical day in Startupland. What does your day look like?
I work nights primarily as a physician but I am blessed to have a fantastic team. I’ve known my co-founder Dr. Nneka Edwards-Jackson for over 20 years. They make this happen. I’ve met fantastic people who have a shared mission and vision, enabling me to build it and focus on it without boiling the whole ocean.
“As a black immigrant physician, you really see the impact and need for physicians and the health system to be about community health,” said Moyo.” “The mission elevates you and keeps you at it.”
I spend time with family during the day, connect with my team, and then sleep before the next shift! On my days off, I get to dive deep. As a black immigrant physician, you really see the impact and need for physicians and the health system to be about community health. The mission elevates you and keeps you at it.
How do you define innovation in the 21st Century?
People innovate to solve problems because there is a need. Now more than ever, people are looking to social impact, to see diversity in the boardrooms, and in corporate executive suites. It’s not just about the dollars and cents - it's starting to trend toward an alignment of public consciousness and corporate consciousness.
I work closely with Visible Hands - a venture capital firm focused on funding women, founders of color and the underrepresented - it is these kinds of communities that we need to be pushing and where innovation needs to be.
What role have mentors played in your success/journey?
Mentors have been critical. Dennis Robbins introduced me to one of my co-founders, Susan McLennan who is an Emmy-Award winning content creator for kids. Michael Giske, another mentor and advisor, taught me about leading a development team and how to build a tech focused product, from a sketch to reality. He has really helped guide the process. The San Diego ecosystem has been amazingly supportive, particularly people like Mysty Rusk and people at The Brink in providing guidance.
I think as a Black physician, finding other black mentors that have had success as physicians is really important, like Dr. Suzanne Afflalo. The journey is different. You really need to have someone with insight into what the experience is like for someone like you. She has been a guiding light in doing community work.
What are some of the biggest challenges you faced in the startup process? How were you able to overcome them?
Time and bandwidth is a big issue for most startups. From idea to prototype to market, it's all about tracking team and talent. They take work off my plate so I can refill my cup as an entrepreneur to succeed.
We are a black and women founded company. The data is clear that there is a paucity of funding that goes to people like us. I see this changing but it's imperative with programs like UC San Diego’s Investment Prep to bring companies like ours into the fold and get ready for investment. Work still needs to be done in the ecosystem to look beyond subconscious bias and invest in companies that are doing the work.
What advice would you give to a UC San Diego student thinking about starting a company?
Start one! As a student, there are so many people that are going to be willing to help you. There is so much you can learn from the community. UC San Diego has so many rich programs focusing on entrepreneurship. Resources are deep with a wide breadth of experiences.
“Be fearless, be bold and live out your dream through the company you want to start,” said Moyo. “Find out your passion, or search for it! The execution is more important than the idea. The idea will come.”
Be fearless, be bold and live out your dream through the company you want to start. Find out your passion, or search for it! The execution is more important than the idea. The idea will come.