Brandeis celebrated the 2022 Asper Award for Global Entrepreneurship recipient Stephanie Tilenius ’89, MA ’90 and the founder and CEO of Vida Health, Inc. in a recent webinar. Brandeis President Ron Liebowitz and Dean Kathryn Gaddy shared congratulatory remarks, and the award was presented to Tilenius by Leonard Asper ’86 who is the founder of the award. Afterwards, Louis Woolf ’76 and Tilenius had a conversation about Tilenius’ journey in entrepreneurship and her company Vida Health.
Vida Health is a virtual care platform that provides wellness care via tele-appointments and medical consultations to help patients struggling with chronic and behavioral conditions. By integrating mental health treatment with physical health treatment, Vida Health seeks to treat the “whole person,” as described in the company website. Additionally, Vida leverages the evolving ability of artificial intelligence and technology to provide patients with useful digital tools. These tools include video meetings with nutrition coaches and licensed therapists, an app that connects and syncs with vital sign measuring tools such as a weight machine and fitness trackers and virtual lesson plans to keep patients informed with accurate medical information.
Tilenius described how her personal experiences shaped her motivation to develop a virtual healthcare platform, saying, “When my father became sick with multiple chronic conditions, I was frustrated by the lack of solutions available to help him.”
Analyses of user data show that on average, one year of Vida Health usage results in about a 7 percent loss of weight and a 1.3-point AIC level reduction, which represents a particular molecule’s level in blood. Additionally, symptoms of depression measured by PHQ-8 levels have been shown to reduce by about 60 percent over the course of six months and stress levels measured by PSS-10 decrease by about 33 percent over the course of six months. The user retention rate is 70 to 90 percent of onboarding members who continue to use Vida Health for six months or more after starting. Currently, Vida Health is deployed in several Fortune 500 companies and insurance companies and health plans.
After graduating from Brandeis, Tilenius was a presidential management intern working on trade negotiations between the U.S. and Japan. In the webinar, she describes how at the time, she had intended to pursue a Ph.D. and “change the world through economic policy.” However, she was frustrated by the “slow pace of change” in economic policy and at her internship in Washington D.C. This motivated her to pivot to the technology sector, where she spent over two decades building products and marketplaces for commerce and payments that scale to many users worldwide.
Prior to founding Vida Health, Tilenius worked at a venture capital firm called Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers where she invested in companies such as NextDoor and MyFitnessPal. Additionally, Tilenius held a position working at Google as the Vice President of Commerce and Payments. This position entailed helping construct and develop new Google products such as Google Wallet, Google Shopping and Google Express.
According to the Aspect Award webpage, the Asper Center for Global Entrepreneurship seeks to understand the emerging trends in entrepreneurship across different cultures and borders.