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U Chicago’s New Venture Challenge winner AMOpportunities lands $1.1M in seed funding 

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October 18-20, 2023 / Tucson, AZ
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The Story

AMOpportunities, a Chicago-based startup that helps connect international medical students to short-term training programs in the United States, has raised $1.1 million in seed funding, the company announced Thursday.

The startup, which won the University of Chicago’s New Venture Challenge in June, was founded in 2013 from a dorm room at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The company aims to help alleviate a shortage of doctors across the United States by helping international medical students join the U.S. health care system, co-founder Benjamin Bradley said. 

“The United States has a huge shortage in specialties like internal medicine and primary care, primarily in rural and underserved areas,” Bradley said. “These students see that and know that they can come here and get a job and fill that opportunity.”

However, the American Medical Association says international students are strongly encouraged to complete short-term training, in the form of clinical rotations, before applying for residencies in the United States.

AMOpportunities’ “one-stop-shop” site offers students information and applications for almost 400 host clinics. If a student applies through the site, AMOpportunities vets their identity and then helps package their application, secure housing and request the necessary travel documents. They also have advisers on staff part-time to guide the students through their application.

The company says it charges between $1,100 and $4,000 per four-week training program, depending on the number of hours the student works and the popularity of the site. About $500 to $1,000 of that fee is given to the participating clinic.

Foreign-educated physicians usually set up their rotations by contacting American physicians directly, AMOpportunities CEO Kyle Swinsky said.

Although this option is typically free of charge, students generally do not receive help finding housing or obtaining visas.

“It’s more of one physician or one practice that sets up a website,” said Swinsky, who co-founded AMOpportunities with Bradley. “Nobody really does it on the scale we do it.”

Hopefuls can also receive the training through U.S. medical schools. But less than half of the country’s schools accept international students, according to the Association of American Medical Schools.

AMOpportunities says it has earned $2.5 million helping 1,600 international students travel to the United States for training in the past three years. An additional 38,000 students have registered on the site, but have not completed an application. The users have come from more than 65 countries, primarily in South America, South Asia and the Middle East, Bradley said.

The company says it rarely faces challenges when helping students apply for the nonimmigrant visas. Swinsky added that the travel bans enacted by President Donald Trump haven’t impacted their business because it hasn’t had any applicants from the restricted countries since the ban was ordered. However, he said he’s not sure if the company will be affected in the future.

The startup moved its staff of seven from health-tech incubator Matter to its own office in River North this week. They plan to use the funding to hire five more employees by the end of the year. They also intend to increase marketing at international medical schools and expand their network of advisers.

Chicago-based OCA Ventures and Madison, Wisconsin-based HealthX Ventures led the funding round. Other participants include M25 Group, Wildcat Capital, China Innovation Venture Partners, and Techra Investments, according to AMOpportunities. Also included in the round is $100,000 the startup received as the winners of the New Venture Challenge, Swinsky said.

Source: New Venture Challenge winner AMOpportunities lands $1.1M in seed funding – Chicago Tribune

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