Former NHL and Montreal Canadien heavyweight Georges Laraque and business partner Jason Frohlich have founded a health and wellness-focused tech startup.
Mentorum is a new web platform that helps people find the right health and wellness professionals based on their specific needs and location. An iOS app should be launching within weeks.
The 13-year NHL veteran Laraque has kept busy after hockey with on-screen roles in Battle of the Blades and Goon, hosting his own radio show, promoting TekSavvy and more recently for stopping kidnappers in the Mile-End.
Laraque was able to benefit from the best trainers and health care professionals money could buy while playing professional hockey. But he said too often his own training friends today don’t know who to turn to when they suffer specific ailments.
Perhaps they fill up waiting rooms in hospitals, wait for hours on end and find out they could have actually been better served by a local physiotherapist.
“All the time I’m telling people that acupuncture is good for this, for example, or a chiropractor is good for that,” Laraque told MTLinTECH. “We have all these smart watches and wearable tech products that can tell you all these stats about your run or your bike ride and yet I wasn’t seeing any tool to help people find a specific health professional.”
Mentorum’s platform displays the profiles and online booking ability of 11 different kinds of healthcare professionals, like massage therapists, naturopaths, chiropractors, nutritionists, osteopaths, kinesiologists and more. It’s targeted towards individuals with private healthcare insurance and is completely free for users. Healthcare professionals pay about $20 per month to be listed on the site. Thus far the venture works in Montreal but the team wants to expand to more Canadian cities over the next six months.
“Right away you can see the professionals closest to you, it takes 10 seconds to register and then you have all this free information for life,” said Laraque. “We started it to help people and hopefully make a difference for their health.”
Laraque became friends with Frolich while both cofounders ran from Montreal to New York to raise money for single-parent families a few years ago.
For Frohlich, Mentorum’s solution can ease the Canadian and Quebec healthcare systems by encouraging wellness and prevention.
“We don’t have a big enough focus on prevention and maintaining our health,” said the 33-year-old. “You have a lot of tech initiatives where people are creating products to support healthcare, but why don’t we just try to prevent people from going there in the first place by helping them maintain their health?”
“We require a paradigm shift. Not just hiring more doctors but investing more in startups and initiatives that try to encourage wellness and good lifestyle choices.”
In this way, said Frohlich, we can prevent clogging up hospital waiting rooms and keep people out of the “vicious circle.”
With Mentorum, users can book online and conduct variable-specific searches for healthcare professionals, including gender, educational background, whether they provide insurance receipts, whether they can visit a client in the home and more.
Frohlich says a close competitor could be Toronto-based League. However, the startup founded by Mike Serbinis (who created and sold Kobo for US $315 million) specifically targets corporate wellness. With League, companies can create individual health accounts in which workers can spend on what they choose. The range of services and amounts can be customized to allow different coverages according to the type of employee.
Laraque knows his startup likely won’t make any money for quite some time – even if it does. He said they’ll need to grow the user base up to a substantial number in the thousands over the next few years before they can think of monetizing through advertising.
Still, it was never about the money for the former Edmonton Oiler, Phoenix Coyote, Pittsburgh Penguin and Canadien.
“My 15 year career was that long because of all the health professionals that I was able to use, so I know how important it can be,” he said. “This is something that we wanted to do for everyone. You become proactive, you get the right treatment and it prevents you from getting hurt and maybe having to go to the hospital for something bigger.”