Center for Entrepreneurship Community Frank G. Zarb School of Business School of Education School of Health Professions and Human Services Top Stories Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell

Doctoral Student Wins Healthcare Entrepreneurship Challenge

President Stuart Rabinowitz with Elnaz Sarabchian, CEO of MedAux, which won first place in Hofstra's 2018 Healthcare Entrepreneurship Community Challenge

A startup launched by a doctoral student that uses text messaging to improve communication between patients and healthcare providers won first place and $15,000 in Hofstra University’s Healthcare Entrepreneurship Community Challenge.

The company, MedAux, won following a showcase earlier this month with 21 other startups that participated in the competition, which is designed to support innovations that improve patient outcomes in underserved areas of the New York metropolitan region.  The Challenge program, which consists of a bootcamp and mentorship with entrepreneurs, is funded through the U.S. Economic Development Agency i6 Challenge.

MedAux is run by CEO Elnaz Sarabchian, who is pursuing an EdD at Hofstra. The company is based in Manhattan, at the offices of Digital Remedy, which is a sponsor of the Hofstra-Digital Remedy Venture Challenge. Earlier this year, MedAux also won first place in the Venture Challenge entrepreneurship competition.

Manhattan-based Playback Health, a Northwell Health-affiliated startup that allows physicians to create an archive of personalized video, audio and digital documents to inform patients about their diagnosis, treatment and discharge, won second place and $7,500. Third place and $2,500 went to Benefit Kitchen, a Brooklyn-based company that screens users to determine what federal, state and local benefits they may be eligible to receive.

The prize money was sponsored by Northwell Health, Digital Remedy, and Hofstra University.

The Healthcare Challenge project is a partnership of Hofstra’s Center for Entrepreneurship, the School of Health Professions and Human Services, the Frank G. Zarb School of Business, the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell and Northwell Ventures, the investment arm of Northwell Health.

The Challenge is funded by a three-year, $485,000 federal grant as part of the Regional Innovation Strategies program, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration. Hofstra is one of 140 Regional Innovation Strategies sites nationwide.

Led by a steering committee of public health experts, faculty, investors, healthcare providers and government agencies, this year the challenge sought entrepreneurs with market-based products or services that address a community health care problem around the theme “Empowering Patients and Communities” in New York City, Long Island, and the Hudson Valley.

The 22 start-ups participated in a six-month program that included a bootcamp and mentorship sessions to help hone their proposal ahead of the showcase/competition. The showcase also included a keynote address by Eric Paul Smith, senior policy advisor in the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship for the U.S. Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce.


“The quality and creativity of the entrepreneurs was extraordinary, and they worked diligently over the past six months to develop their innovations,” said Stacey Sikes, executive dean of the Center for Entrepreneurship. “Every participant brought a fresh perspective to community health issues in areas that experience health inequities.  I look forward to continuing to work with our partners to build upon the program’s success.”


A topic for next year’s Challenge will be announced later this year. For more information go to

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