UChicago Spin-Out NowPow Acquired by Unite Us to Scale, Add Greater Value to More Consumers

NowPow cofounders

Founder and Chief Innovation Officer Stacy Lindau and CEO Rachel Kohler. (Photography by Lucy Hewett for the University of Chicago Booth School of Business)

University of Chicago spin-out NowPow, a referral platform grounded in science and community, has been acquired by Unite Us, the nation’s leading technology company connecting health and social care services.

NowPow – a name derived from the phrase “knowledge is power” – supports whole-person care by making personalized and filtered referrals to meet a range of patient needs, including food, shelter, financial assistance, counseling, and caregiver support, among others.

The Chicago-based company, founded by Stacy Lindau, MD, MAPP ‘02, Catherine Lindsay Dobson Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Professor of Medicine-Geriatrics at the University of Chicago, has to date conducted more than one million screenings and made millions of referrals.

For Lindau and partner Rachel Kohler, CEO and co-owner of NowPow, the top priority has always been to optimize their impact by connecting as many people as possible with vital community resources. The combination of NowPow and Unite Us will create the nation’s leading integrated health and social care network connecting people to these resources.

“NowPow is a personalized community referral platform for every need and person. By acquiring their skillset and functionalities, we’re able to join forces and offer a better product to our clients,” said Dan Brillman, Unite Us CEO. “This combination bridges the gap between health and social care providers; it will allow for communities to better coordinate and support individuals seeking health and social care services.”

Lindau said NowPow was on a fast growth trajectory and then the pandemic hit – “supercharging” the company and the market for care solutions. “Anyone who wondered whether people need to know about the resources in their community understood within the earlier days of the pandemic how critical resources are not just for health but survival,” she noted.

Amid this acceleration, Unite Us – which Lindau described as NowPow’s best competitor – in March announced that it had raised $150 million in a Series C financing round. Additionally, other competitors began to consolidate (Unite Us also recently acquired a leading analytics company, Carrot Health) and NowPow saw “a flurry” of interest to do the same.

“Ultimately, we decided that a way to keep doing this work was to join with our fiercest competitor,” explained Lindau. “This deal brings NowPow with its focus on quality and its science-driven approach together with Unite Us, which has been focused on scale. Our complements are our strengths and will bring even greater value to the combined field of customers we serve.”

Unite Us

The combination of NowPow’s personalized, evidence-based referral platform with Unite Us’ end-to-end social care solutions brings together two market favorites to further deepen community-based partnerships and accelerate health improvements nationwide. (Image credit: Unite Us)

“The acquisition is an indication that Stacy’s insight and innovation on the value of high-quality customized community referrals has become widely accepted,” noted Rob Gertner, the John Edwardson Faculty Director of the Rustandy Center, Joel F. Gemunder Professor of Strategy and Finance at Booth, and a NowPow advisor. “The acquisition speeds up the timing for the innovation to reach anyone who can benefit from it.”

Following the completion of the acquisition, Kohler and Lindau will transition to advisor roles, bringing with them all 140 NowPow employees who will continue to operate under the Unite Us banner. “That was very important to us,” noted Lindau, who credits the company’s success to the crossing paths of “a passionate faculty member a passionate Booth alumna.”

“Our passion for Chicago, and especially the South Side of Chicago, our commitment to ethics as a way of life and doing business, and our complementary expertise, both as alumnae of the University of Chicago, are really important ingredients that lead to this successful outcome,” Lindau said. “We both hope that this success signals to other faculty entrepreneurs that putting your company headquarters on the South Side of Chicago is a pathway to success and we hope others will follow suit.”

Looking forward to the next few years, aside from taking care of her patients at UChicago Medicine and helping ensure the success of Unite Us, Lindau is excited about the Bionic Breast Project – an interdisciplinary research program applying bionic technologies to restore post-mastectomy breast function.

To further support this project and its potential to help millions of women around the world, Lindau made the decision to redirect 100% of her personal share of proceeds that the university receives when a faculty founder spins out a company that is eventually sold. Said Lindau, “We are so excited to use these resources to accelerate our next big idea from bench to bedside, and that’s the Bionic Breast Project.”

Article by Melissa Fassbender, senior assistant director of external relations and science communications at the Polsky Center. Melissa is a former journalist and has held the role of editor at various global publications in the drug development, clinical trials, and design engineering space. Reach Melissa via email or on Twitter at @melfass.

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