ABQid’s startup grads focus on health, wellness

By Kevin Robinson-Avila / Journal Staff Writer/Albuquerque Journal

SANEsuite CEO Marsha Battee meets with mentors at ABQid's Launch Day last month. Battee created software to standardize forensic nursing reports on domestic violence and sexual abuse. (Courtesy of Abqid)

After graduating last month from the ABQid business accelerator, six new companies focused on health and wellness issues have hit the streets to fully develop and market novel technologies.

Only two of them were launched by people in New Mexico. ABQid recruited the rest from other states, and one from Egypt. Of those, three are now pursuing their businesses here.

That out-of-state recruitment, combined with the accelerator’s new “themed” approach to focus on companies working in just one industry, successfully propelled the program in a new strategic direction that can both intensify the accelerator’s impact on startup development while also bringing new businesses to the state, said ABQid Executive Director T.J. Cook.

The accelerator, which launched in 2014, had previously accepted a broad mix of companies working in a range of industries, nearly all of them from New Mexico.

“Our new themed, focused approach helped us connect the companies in this cohort much faster and with a lot more mentors, potential partners and customers compared with our previous cohorts,” Cook said. “In addition, our ability to attract startups from other places to locate in New Mexico is a boon for the local ecosystem.”

All the companies are bringing innovative, novel technologies and services to market that can help solve pressing health-related problems and issues.

“They all have strong social missions, such as dealing with the opioid addiction crisis, sexual assault and autism in children,” Cook said. “They’re applying real solutions to real-world problems.”

One entrepreneur, Mohamed Khashaba, relocated from Egypt to Albuquerque to participate in ABQid and establish his business, TakeStep LLC, in New Mexico as a beachhead for penetration into the U.S. market. Khashaba worked with three business partners in Egypt to create a web-based software platform and mobile app that connects recovering drug addicts online with everybody that’s involved in their treatment, including family, treatment facilities, therapists, insurance companies and more.

“It empowers recovering addicts and all stakeholders by linking everyone together in a single web-based and mobile platform,” Khashaba said.

TakeStep wants to turn its platform into the world’s first virtual-treatment system for addiction.

“It offers treatment facilities a new tool to reach more patients in distant places, such as rural areas,” Khashaba said. “It can also directly connect therapists individually with people, providing virtual-recovery services.”

Two facilities in Egypt are already using TakeStep with about 400 recovering addicts. Pilot projects will begin in December with a New Mexico facility and a local doctor.

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