- Associated Press - Sunday, October 5, 2014

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) - There’s a new social networking site in town, and you won’t find any tinted photo filters or 140-character limits here.

Instead, DaoCloud revolves around holistic health care - or “self-care,” as its founders like to say.

The new site, still in development but signing up members in advance of a public launch next year, caters to people who “believe that food and behavior are the best medicine,” said Eric Green, the 22-year old co-founder and CEO.

DaoCloud is a community where people interested in alternative therapies, such as acupuncture and naturopathic medicine, can connect with practitioners and like-minded peers. The site is also attracting a more mainstream crowd: physical therapists, yoga instructors, personal trainers, massage therapists, chiropractors - and their potential clients.

Think of it as a hybrid of Angie’s List, LinkedIn and WebMD, with a two-sided network: “members” on one end, “professionals,” on the other.



Joining is free for members, while professionals will be charged an annual $216 fee. In return, they enjoy “amplified word-of-mouth advertising,” Green says, and get a platform for sharing research and referring clients to colleagues.

“I think the concept just clicks for a lot of people,” said co-founder and chief marketing officer Max Coleman, 24. “I’ll be walking them through a demo, and I can just see it in their faces. People are ready for something like this.”

Green and Coleman do not seem like poster children for alternative, holistic medicine. Neither do the two other 20-something members of their core team. They speak in concrete terms about their business model, financial projections and investors with the assuredness and enthusiasm of recent college graduates.

All four attended the University of Maryland, College Park. Three are recent grads; Green is a recent dropout.

Green studied technology entrepreneurship for three years, and completed the university’s Hinman CEOs living-and-learning, business incubation program. But he withdrew from the business school during what would have been his final semester to focus on DaoCloud full-time.

A 2013 study-abroad trip to Copenhagen planted the seed for that decision. While enrolled in an entrepreneurship program there, Green finessed the concept for DaoCloud, which he first dreamt up in 2012. He was invited to join an incubator - if he agreed to ditch school and move to Denmark.

He had to decline; he’d already paid tuition for University of Maryland, he said.

“But that offer was definitely a motivation, a sign that (DaoCloud) is something I really needed to pursue,” Green said. “If people were willing to invest in it and ask me to drop out of school, that was a clear indication it was going well.”

Things haven’t slowed down back home. The DaoCloud team brought on a web developer (Baltimore-based Bytelion LLC), a local designer (Jo Cooper Studio) and a corps of legal advisers. Green said all those partners are financially invested in the project through convertible notes, debt instruments that can later be converted into equity.

DaoCloud has also raised about $75,000 from family, friends and the Impact Seed Fund, a program within the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute at the University of Maryland. The DaoCloud team will pitch to two angel investor groups within the next few weeks, and they plan to launch a crowd-funding campaign early next year.

They hope to break even within the next 12 to 18 months and become profitable in 2016, Coleman said.

It’s been a whirlwind couple of years for the young entrepreneurs, and each day is jam-packed with demos, pitches and consultations with practitioners who provide feedback on the project.

Kelly Bradley, who owns Bradley Wellness LLC, is one such adviser. She said Green and Coleman asked for input about what the “ideal” site would look like from a practitioner’s perspective.

“DaoCloud is a great way to connect practitioners with patients,” Bradley said. “Also, most people who have non-clear cut health issues need a wellness team to address what’s going on from a holistic standpoint. So DaoCloud lets multiple practitioners communicate and collaborate, as opposed to emailing or something, which might not be effective.”

“They’re going full-throttle on this,” Bradley added. “And I’m a huge believer.”

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Information from: The Daily Record of Baltimore, https://www.mddailyrecord.com

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