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Alumni Excellence Awards: EnTERPreneur Award Winner Steven Krein '92

Alumni Excellence Awards: EnTERPreneur Award Winner Steven Krein '92

Steve Krein '92

By Andrew Faught

Around the globe, 8.75 million people are afflicted with Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease that can cut life expectancy by 20 years or more.

Steven Krein is helping to lead the charge for a cure.

Since founding New York-based StartUp Health with longtime business partner Unity Stoakes in 2011, Krein, the CEO, and his team have assembled a worldwide network of founders, funders, innovators and industry leaders to prevent, manage and cure not only Type 1 diabetes, but also to collaborate on 13 health “moonshots,” including Alzheimer’s disease, a disorder of progressive cognitive and memory decline now affecting more than 55 million people globally.

The for-profit firm’s “Health Moonshot” community platform has developed the world’s largest health innovation community, with nearly 500 companies from 29 countries collaborating on solving the world's biggest health challenges..

“The moonshot metaphor is about creating a global call for innovation to collaborate on solving problems that no one can do alone,” Krein explains. “The moon landing in the ’60s was not achieved by NASA working alone, but actually was the result of them leading a 20,000-company collaboration for nearly a decade. The recent launch of the James Webb Telescope was also tens of thousands of people collaborating for more than 20 years.

“So when we’re talking about preventing, managing and curing Type 1 diabetes, when we’re talking about preventing or managing Alzheimer’s disease, it’s not going to be done by one company or one person,” he adds. “The idea of long-term global collaboration between founders and funders is really at the heartbeat of what we’re doing with our StartUp Health model.”

Krein’s family plays varied roles in health care, including his sister, who works with him at the company. His brother is a head and neck cancer surgeon, and his mother was a nurse and physician’s assistant. His father sold health insurance. Krein says he was impacted by watching his grandmother navigate the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease, but when a former investor was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, he and his business partner decided to focus on making a meaningful impact in health care.

“The convergence of all of these things made it very clear that I really had not set out initially to be a mission-driven entrepreneur,” says Krein, who previously cofounded and led a number of technology companies, including OrganizedWisdom, and Webstakes, a global online direct marketing and technology company that he took public and sold during the late ’90s. “So I shifted to a different focus nearly twenty years ago, and I haven’t looked back.”

Krein describes himself as an entrepreneur and entrepreneurial coach and a “convener of community.” The Internet and advancements in technology—including smart devices and “wearables” that log biometric data—accelerated collaborations around 2010, he says.

“Technology has become accessible to developers and to scientists and to clinicians, who can now bring ideas to life faster, easier and cheaper than ever before,” he says. “That we can connect virtually over Zoom and collaborate on projects and use AI to leverage the acceleration of meaningful data, those are all of the building blocks for what we’re seeing now.”

Krein, now married with three daughters, majored in criminology and criminal justice at Maryland, where he met friends and faculty who fueled his entrepreneurial ambitions. In fact, several Terp alums have backed StartUp Health, sit on its advisory board and work at the company. He maintains a connection with his alma mater through his daughter, who is now in her junior year at Maryland, and by serving on the board of the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at the Robert H. Smith School of Business. There, he is an example for others who want to make a difference.

“StartUp Health's mission is a powerful reminder of how a global network of entrepreneurs can unite and collaborate to bring about transformative change in health care, tackling the most significant health challenges of our time with innovation and determination,” Krein says.


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