Jill Shah had just sold her Back Bay startup, Jill's List, on April 15th. The money had just hit her bank account. She hadn't even had a chance to tell her seven employees about the sale yet when she heard two explosions nearby; Shah's company is located on Boylston Street, in between where the first and second bombs went off on Marathon Monday.
Shah's two kids had come into the office with their nanny to have lunch with her. "I had figured I would pull everyone together for a toast after lunch," she says. Instead, thinking that buildings nearby had been blown up, Shah, her kids, and her team evacuated their building at 726 Boylston and went home. "We weren't in the office for a week," she says.
Things have settled down considerably since Shah's somewhat atypical acquisition experience last month. She's now running the Boston office of Mindbody, a California company that sells web-based software to fitness studios, salons, and other wellness-oriented businesses to help them manage their businesses. Jill's List had created a network of more than 4,000 alternative medicine practitioners like acupuncturists and masseuses, and helped employees with flexible spending accounts or health savings account find the right practitioner for their needs, book appointments, and track payments. Employers pay a monthly fee to give their employees access to the Jill's List network.
Jill's List had created a partnership with Mindbody prior to the acquisition. "Their software helps practitioners run their businesses, and we've been trying to feed those practitioners into corporate America," Shah says. "We're also focused on ways to help doctors write orders for things like acupuncture or yoga as easily as they can write an order for a blood test or a CT scan."
"Our thesis is all about the convergence of healthcare and wellness," says Mindbody CEO Rick Stollmeyer, who is planning his first visit to the Boston office this Friday. Jill's List is the company's second acquisition so far; Shah will be senior vice president of what is being rebranded as the Mindbody Wellness Network. The acquisition price isn't being disclosed.
Shah started Jill's List in 2010, and never raised outside funding. She's married to Wayfair co-founder Niraj Shah, whose Back Bay e-commerce company has pursued a different funding strategy: it began as a bootstrapped business, but collected just over $200 million in outside capital last year.
About Scott Kirsner
Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.
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December 9: Web Innovators Group
Demos of new mobile apps and web ventures at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in Cambridge. Free admission; cash bar.
December 10: Fintech Demo Day
Short demos from startups in the financial technology realm.
December 11: Unpitch
Entrepreneurs and investors sit down for lunch, advice, and feedback. Entrepreneurs must apply to participate.