Access HealthNet, Onkol and Rent College Pads get investments

BrightStar Wisconsin Foundation announces $550,000 contribution

Tom Shannon, CEO of BrightStar Wisconsin.

Milwaukee-based BrightStar Wisconsin Foundation Inc. today announced it has invested $550,000 total in Access HealthNet, Onkol and Rent College Pads, all of which are based in Milwaukee.

Tom Shannon, CEO of BrightStar Wisconsin.
Tom Shannon, CEO of BrightStar Wisconsin.

BrightStar invests in early stage companies it expects will create jobs and expand economic growth in Wisconsin. It is a nonprofit which accepts donations and then funnels them to promising startups in a practice it calls venture philanthropy. The organization began investing in 2013 and has made 32 investments.

Onkol, which makes home health monitors that keep family members informed about their senior loved ones, will receive a $200,000 investment, said Marc Cayle, chief operating officer and founder of Onkol.

“We’re really excited about it,” he said. “We are adding staff, we are going into production, so we have our first units off the line and many more are about to hit the floor today.”

Onkol, founded in 2013, has raised a total of $6 million to date.

The initial orders for Onkol’s health hub were much larger than anticipated, and the additional capital will allow the firm to ramp up production, Cayle said.

Onkol is currently working from the Direct Supply Technology Center on the Milwaukee School of Engineering campus downtown.

“(Direct Supply is) certainly part of it and call centers that do both emergency response and vitals monitoring have ordered a significant number,” he said.

Onkol will also use the funds to add to its team. The startup currently has five employees, with plans to add another three or four in the near future, Cayle said.

Rent College Pads will receive a $150,000 investment and Access HealthNet will get $200,000, said Todd Sobotka, investment manager at BrightStar.

“These investments show that we have effectively stepped up to fulfill our mission of funding innovative, job-creating early-stage companies in Wisconsin,” said Michelle Picard, portfolio manager at Henderson Geneva Capital Management and a BrightStar investment committee member and donor. “We have created a unique model to support companies that are committed to job creation. With the ongoing support of generous donors who share our goals, we will continue to actively invest in Wisconsin companies that will help the state’s economy continue to grow.”

“This round is exciting because BrightStar made investments in companies with unique technology products designed to lower employer health care costs, fill off-campus student housing, and support assisted living and in-home care providers,” said Adam Berger, partner and vice president of Doering Fleet Management and a BrightStar board member. “The companies varied in stage, expertise and industry. We expect rapid growth from all three during the next 24 to 36 months. That’s great for Wisconsin and in keeping with BrightStar’s mission.”

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Molly Dill, former BizTimes Milwaukee managing editor.

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