Meet the 7 Wonder Women of Chicago

From TheIdeaForge

Admit it: Men have been running the superhero show for way too long. When Batman V Superman was announced, one of the things we were most excited about was the first live-action blockbuster appearance of Wonder Woman. We haven’t seen the film just yet, but judging by the trailers she seems to be there to break up the fight between the two clashing heroes.

Since March is National Women’s History Month, what better way is there to celebrate strong thought leaders in Chicago than highlighting nine wonder women throughout the city? These ladies might not be demigods, but they’re certainly heroes in our book.


Meet Star Cunningham, Founder and CEO of 4D Healthware

4D Healthware is a multi-platform software that allows patients dealing with chronic illness to track their health in real time without needing the constant visits to the doctor. Their app complies with all HIPAA regulations and tracks the patient’s data 24 hours a day. Cunningham founded 4D Healthware in 2011 when she recognized that patients with chronic illness had less control over their lives and schedules.

(Click here to see the entire article)

Changemaker: Star Cunningham

By Rebecca Taras-Lee, FW-Chicago

Nearly half of the adult population suffers from one or more chronic illnesses. By using technology and data, Star Cunningham, Founder/CEO of 4D Healthware, is changing healthcare for patients living with chronic illnesses.


Changemaker, Star Cunningham, Founder/CEO, 4D Healthware, is using technology and data to improve the lives of patients living with chronic illnesses.

With the exception of Antarctica, Cunningham’s extensive global business executive experience has taken her to every continent throughout her career. Because Cunningham understands technology and data and enjoys solving problems, she has been able to lead system migration efforts, process re-engineering programs, and improve high-speed Internet access product delivery and enhancement, big data collection and real-time analysis, thus improving the smartphone end user customer experience. Through her experience in global problem-solving and working with cutting-edge technology, she brings a unique view to the world of medicine. ”We recently closed a seed-funding round with a private equity firm and angel investors, some of which included physicians familiar with the challenges and opportunities in healthcare,” said Cunningham. “Fundraising certainly came as a challenge as a female and minority business leader, but ultimately it was validation of our product and progress. Though we have a lot of work ahead of us to reach our mission, I am proud to say that 4D Healthware is on an upward path to improving patient outcomes and increasing patient engagement, which is beneficial for physicians and the patients they care for.”

Star Cunningham Leads Charge on Health Tech Platform, Raises $710,000

By Lauren Victoria Burke, NBC News

Star Cunningham, Founder and CEO of 4D Healthware, has successfully raised a whopping $710,000 for patient engagement software that helps people manage their health on a digital dashboard.

Cunningham’s software allows people to link their health tech devices to her software which then does the heavy lifting of analyzing the data and potentially alerting medical professionals if necessary. In an interview with NBCBLK, she explained the value of the technology and the story behind getting it funded.

Funding for tech startups for women is abysmally low. Between 2011 and 2013, just 2.7 percent of all venture-backed companies had a woman CEO according to Fast Company magazine. For Black women it’s even lower.

“There is no secret regarding the challenge African Americans have raising capital. It’s going to take us longer and we’re going to raise less than the average. Our tipping point was that I have a phenomenal mentor named Esther Dyson who is a prolific health care investor. I called her and she said let me come and help you,” Cunningham told NBCBLK.

Once the potential impact of her idea became noticed by funders several got on board quickly. They understood the far reaching potential saying that after, “we had the first $100,000 commitment in Chicago it took us maybe another 48 hours to get to the next $380,000 and then the rest of it came in over the next couple of months.”

Cunningham’s idea could eventually have people routinely checking the stats of their health vital signs just as they check their twitter and Facebook accounts.

“Consumers want data information and tools so they can manage their health away from the physicians office…the doctor can’t be there 24/7 software can and chronic diseases require chronic care and chronic support,” she added.

With the huge spike in popularity around wearable tech-driven devices by companies like Fitbit, combined with the demographics of the aging baby boomer population, Cunningham’s idea arrives at the right time. Tens of thousands of patients could be potential users of her idea. Rather than focusing on one disease the platform is comprehensive.

“My background is IBM Smarter Planet and bringing together all the best pieces and parts of a solution to craft something for a customer. I started 4D Healthware four years ago and focused on convincing investors that a platform that was device agnostic, disease agnostic, and provider agnostic is the way health care is going at a time when the majority of investors are seeking the next 99 cent diabetes app,” she said.

Cunningham said excitement grew around the project after investors understood the focus was more comprehensive. “We were focused on a disease-agnostic platform that could handle diabetes, hypertension, cardio and obesity… it became a slam dunk once individuals started to put the pieces together,” she said. She also discussed cost models.

“This whole space of wearables and sensor-based technology and how it could be applied to patients and healthcare is so new that no one was understanding how to pay for it. In January of 2015 Medicare came up with the first code, of $40 per patient per month, to pay for the remote management for patients with chronic disease and that sets us off on a totally different trajectory,” Cunningham added.

Currently, 4D Healthware is focused on perfecting the software with a focused education campaign and making certain it connects with the right target audience. “This is just the beginning,” she said, adding that her company will take 90 days to further research what works best for each individual patient.

Star Cunningham Named One of Ten Black Women Changing the World via Science and Technology

Star Cunningham

Star Cunningham

Star Cunningham: Cunningham has an extensive computer science background including telecommunications product development, and as a solutions manager for IBM Smarter Planet. Currently, she is the founder and CEO of 4D Healthcare. Her company has developed an innovative solution for managing chronic pain and conditions.


ADA Logo

By Erin Callahan

CHICAGO – The American Diabetes Association of Illinois has reviewed numerous submissions for Round One of the Venture to Stop Diabetes Challenge, and has determined the Finalists, all of which will present their submission to a panel of judges at EXPO, Saturday, April 9, 2016 at McCormick Place, Lakeside Hall D.

Finalists were chosen based the following criteria: Relevance, Creativity and Innovation, Feasibility and Sustainability, Organization and Clarity.

The American Diabetes Association Venture to Stop Diabetes Challenge welcomes the following to present for a grand prize of $10,000 and favorable introductions to Association sponsors and partners, to best accelerate commercialization and improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes:

4D Healthware 

4D Healthware is a population health management solution that allows patients to better manage chronic disease. Those managing Diabetes often have numerous other health issues, such as hypertension and obesity, requiring a cohesive approach to the management of their conditions and medications. 4D provides diabetic patients with the tools to self-manage their disease, helping them achieve lower A1C by analyzing individual data to provide actionable guidance and feedback via notifications and support from patient engagement advisors.


Admetsys has developed the first artificial pancreas system specifically for the needs of hospital and surgical care. The system measures blood glucose concentration in real time, creates an adaptive, computational model of each patient’s metabolism, and delivers precisely-optimized, treatment – insulin to reduce high glycemic levels and glucose to raise and support falling levels.


Benecure has created a platform that helps users manage chronic conditions using smart devices and gamification. The system is designed to promote intrinsic motivation which leads to long term behavior change.


HabitNu is an innovative smart phone or tablet based 16-week program that provides a unique, engaging, culturally sensitive and scalable diabetes prevention and management service. HabitNu combines structure, education and support from healthcare professionals to empower individuals and society.

POPS! Diabetes Care 

POPS! Diabetes Care is developing a new care model for diabetics through new mobile healthcare technology. A more convenient and painless test paired with the power of the mobile phone empowers patients for enhanced self-management. Seamless connectivity enables automatic collaboration with care providers to reduce complications. POPS! (Patient Opportunity, Payer Savings) Diabetes Care is creating a new user experience that will reduce healthcare costs and ultimately benefit patient outcomes.

Vital Simulations 

Vital Simulations™ is a health care education and software development company which creates online accelerated learning simulations to assess and validate skills, knowledge and decision-making in a safe environment that is applicable for use in professional education and health system workforce development. SiMCare™ Diabetes is an online interactive learning tool which has been proven to increase learner engagement, improve patient outcomes and reduce the cost of disease management. SiMCare™ was developed in collaboration with the University of Minnesota and HealthPartners® Institute for Education and Research.


How Big is the Chronic Condition Market?

One word: Huge. And it’s growing.

As of 2012, 117 million people in the US, or about half of all adults, have a chronic health condition. Worse still: 25 percent of the population have two or more.

So, this is why chronic care is such a big deal; not only is it prevalent, but diseases generally cannot be prevented or cured – only managed.

Because of this, chronic conditions are a major reason for rising healthcare costs. In 2010, 86 percent of all healthcare spending was for people suffering from chronic disease, like obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Many, 52.3 million to be exact, are beneficiaries of Medicare.

If that seems dismal – look at where experts expect chronic conditions to be in the future. By 2020, 57 percent of the U.S. population – or roughly 190 million people – will suffer from one or more chronic diseases.

Unless something changes, these diseases will become more and more of a burden on the healthcare system. According to the CDC, “fewer than 7% of people diagnosed with diabetes in 2011 and 2012 were given adequate self-management training,” despite the fact that self-management is key to a successful outcome.

Hoping to reverse this trend and arrest the rising costs, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services created a reimbursement last year for physicians, hospitals and clinics to help patients manage chronic conditions, without face-to-face interaction. (Read more about that here.)

The goal is to more closely monitor these conditions before incidents flare up and costs of treatment skyrocket. Basically, it’s cheaper to monitor diabetes than to treat the side effects that come with poor management.

At 4D, we believe the best way forward is by empowering patients to better manage their health – providing them with smart technology solutions that capitalize on the world of wearables to deliver actionable insights and opportunities for early intervention.

Big Issue Minority Startup Founders Face When Raising VC (Podcast)

Chicago Inno interviews 4D Healthware CEO, Star Cunningham.

Chicago’s 4D Healthware raised a $610K seed round. Here’s why it matters.

Sam Dewey

Sam Dewey Built in Chicago
on Feb 29th, 2016
Star Cunningham

Star Cunningham


The cultural influence of this year’s Academy Awards is bound to have longer-lasting effects than years past.

Ever since the all-white nominations were revealed, Hollywood has been engrossed in dialogue after dialogue about inclusivity, diversity, and visibility for people of color.

They’re important conversations to have, and unfortunately, the issues minorities face in the entertainment industry are just as prevalent in technology.

This month, Project Diane published a report called “The Real Unicorns of Tech” that found black female-run companies account for virtually none (0.2 percent) of venture capital deals made from 2012 to 2014. Of the 66,000-plus startups studied for the report, a mere 88 were run by black women. And tech companies founded by black women, the study found, averaged only $36,000 in venture capital.

One Chicago-based startup is breaking free of those molds.

Today, Chicago’s 4D Healthware announced the close of a $610,000 seed round. For seed rounds, it’s as standard as they come, but for CEO and founder Star Cunningham — an African American entrepreneur herself — it’s an achievement that’s 16,000 percent larger than average for startups run by black women.

If her business proves viable, she could be well on her way to securing a million dollars in capital.

That milestone, as sweet as it is for many entrepreneurs, would make Cunningham only the 12th African American woman to secure more than a million dollars in funding for her tech startup.

“There’s a better chance of hitting the lotto or getting struck by lightning,” she said. “It can be very easy to say, ‘Why even bother? Why even try?’”

The MATTER-based company, an online personal health portal that partners with care providers to better manage chronic conditions, develops a software that connects with about 250 various devices (like bluetooth-enabled glucometers and wireless activity trackers) to corral the data care teams need to best manage chronic diseases.

4D’s pivoted approach is in response to a new Medicare value-based payment model launched in January of 2015 that reimburses healthcare providers $40 per patient per month for every 20 minutes spent managing care outside a doctor’s office. 4D’s artificial intelligence software and machine learning algorithms use the data it collects to send SMS and email messages to the patient to help nudge them towards proper disease management.


Cunningham said the new model created a $16 billion market overnight.

“Every month, billions of dollars are being left on the table because this is so new, and providers are challenged with selecting innovate companies to work with in innovate ways,” Cunningham said.

It’s a smart idea in a complex industry, one that won over investors despite unsavory statistics.

When asked why it might be harder for black women with big ideas to land VC capital, Cunningham said investors are likely to keep investments within a degree or two of their network in order to minimize risk. Because there are fewer minorities at the tables within those circles, it’s hard for people of color — and particularly women — to land VC investments.

Another hurdle, recently explored by the Chicago Tribune, is a shortage of venture capitalist that come from a diverse background. The lion’s share are white (87 percent) and men (89 percent).

“I don’t think Chicago is unique in any way in terms of this challenge,” Cunningham said.”It is a national challenge; it is a VC challenge.”

Cunningham said the funds will be used to invest in the technology and grow the company’s sales and service teams. Along the way, Cunningham said she’s focused on effecting change by example.

“I hope to be part of the change as an example of a minority woman who raised money — who was able to get investors to see past that and look at the business opportunity instead,” she said. “I’m looking forward to growing a great company.”

Photo via 4D Healthware

Have a tip for us or know of a company that deserves coverage? Shoot us an email or follow us on Twitter @BuiltInChicago.

4D Healthware Raises $610,000 in Seed Funding to Bring Health Dashboard to Sufferers of Chronic Disease

Chicago – February 22, 2016 4D Healthware, an online personal health dashboard specializing in chronic care management, today announced it closed a $610,000 seed investment round that included a mix of private equity and angel investors, including multiple physicians. The funding will help 4D Healthware accelerate the onboarding of new healthcare clinics nationwide, continue to invest in its technology and to grow its service teams.

“The healthcare landscape is experiencing a fundamental shift from a focus on reactive treatment to one that leverages real-time health data for preventative care,” said Star Cunningham, 4D Healthware founder and CEO. “Inside this new landscape, spurred by new reimbursement guidelines and the widespread adoption of fitness tracking technology, physicians, medical practices, healthcare clinics and hospital systems will find huge opportunities to lower costs and earn new recurring revenue, all while helping their patients lead healthier lives.”

Medicare’s $40 per patient monthly reimbursement for chronic care management, Cunningham explained, is one such example of the trend towards preventative, non-visit-based financing. 4D Healthware is the easiest and fastest way that physicians, clinics and hospital systems can onboard patients and track the amount of time patients spend interacting with the platform, which pulls data from more than 250 fitness trackers and other connected health devices, like Bluetooth-enabled glucometers and wireless blood pressure monitors, in order to guide patients on how to best manage their chronic condition daily.

“The healthcare industry is at crossroad; a paradigm shift has begun,” said 4D Healthware Investor and Advisor Allen Caviles. “Those companies that don’t innovate will be disrupted, and the companies that emerge will pave the path for future generations in medicine, healthcare and wellness. I expect 4D Healthware to be one of those companies.”

“From her own experience with chronic illness, Star knows first-hand the challenges in managing one’s health on a daily basis, whether that is regular adjustments to medication or frequent doctor visits – all of which can burden an already-stressed healthcare system,” said James Kelly, M.D. and investor in 4D Healthware. “With actionable insights and alerts pulled from wearable devices, 4D Healthware is a smart answer to chronic care management.”

4D Healthware is a member of the MATTER health tech accelerator and was chosen as one of 12 semifinalists in the Mayo Clinic THINK BIG Challenge.

About 4D Healthware

4D Healthware works with physicians, medical practices, healthcare clinics and hospital systems to provide patients with real-time health alerts for the chronically ill, all managed in a single dashboard.


4D Healthware Raises $610K to Create a ‘Dashboard’ for Health Alerts

4D Healthware CEO Star Cunningham, one of Chicago’s only black female founders, talks about one of the biggest challenges minorities face when raising VC.

– Staff Writer, Chicago Inno

02/29/16 @3:24pm in Tech

The venture funding statistics around African American female startup founders are startling. Of the 10,238 venture deals from 2012 to 2014, only 24 went to black women (just 0.2%). And African American female-led startups on average raise just $36,000 of funding, according to a report by #ProjectDiane.

In fact, only 11 startups founded by black women have raised more than $1 million in VC funding, the report found.

Star Cunningham, founder of 4D Healthware, is working to add another name to that list, and made a big step toward that goal by raising $610,000.

4D Healthware announced the new funding Monday, which will help grow the company’s real-time personal health dashboard. 4D Healthware uses health data from wearable devices like Fitbit to help people with chronic conditions monitor their health more effectively, with information sent to your phone and computer that’s read like warning lights on a car dashboard.

“If you think about driving your car, you have all of this maintenance that you have to do or a light will come on,” Cunningham said. “Well, why don’t we have something like that for our bodies? 4D Healthware is designed to do that and be that tool that tells you more than eat right, exercise, drink more water. It tells you specifically what you can do to improve your health.”

If you’re diabetic, for example, 4D Healthware works with your activity tracker and Bluetooth-enabled glucometers and wireless blood pressure monitors to keep patients informed in real-time on their condition. On the 4D platform, patients will see yellow and red warning lights if something is wrong, and potentially catch a serious problem before it arises.

Cunningham, who launched 4D Healthware in 2011 after almost 10 years at IBM, is one of only a handful of African American female entrepreneurs in Chicago. She acknowledged that she, like other minority founders, found it difficult to initially raise funding, and pointed to one major reason why people of color struggle to secure venture dollars: Minority founders often have a harder time raising a friends and family round.

A friends and family round helps give startups early traction and is a metric some venture capitalists take very seriously, Cunningham said. A minority founder, who doesn’t come from a rich family or doesn’t have a network of wealthily friends, is already at a disadvantage, she explained.

“One of the first things you hear as an entrepreneur is: How much have your raised to date?” she said. “That friends and family round is a significant round.

“When I went to my family to ask them to invest in my company, this was all so new to them. It’s foreign to them. I did have family members who did invest, but my friends and family round was extremely small. There’s no one in my family that would write a $25,000 check.”

The solution, Cunningham said, is that investors may need to be willing to invest earlier in minority-led startups.

“An understanding has to be arrived that if you are going to invest in an African American-led company, especially one led by an African American female, you may have to invest sooner,” she said. “You may have to invest earlier, because they (may not) have access to the resources that others have access to.”

Cunningham ended up raising just under $64,000 during her friends and family round, and 4D Healthware’s latest funding brings its total raised to nearly $674,000. The round included a mix of private equity and angel investors, like Allen Caviles and James Kelly.

With the 4D Healthware dashboard, both patients and physicians have access to a person’s condition, and can check how they’re progressing towards goals, and if they’re on top of their medication. The platform works with more than 250 fitness trackers and other connected health devices, and can send messages throughout the day to help people stay healthy.

4D Healthare is in the process of onboarding of new healthcare clinics across the country, and primarily works with patients dealing with obesity, hypertension, and diabetes.

“(With 4D Healthware), you will be able to see your red lights, or your warning signals, in a very easy to understand way,” she said. “And you’ll be able to interact with that data and interact with our patient engagement advisor to put you on the right track so we turn that red light green or turn it off.”

4D Healthware said it plans use the funding to continue to invest in its technology and to grow its service teams. And Cunnignham says she’s continuing to work to grow the number of African American women who’ve raised $1 million in venture capital.

“Being an African American female entrepreneur, there’s not a lot of us, even fewer of us in the healthcare space, and fewer of us in the technology space,” she said. “When you look at the numbers, the challenge is, how do you shift the thinking of those who do invest?”