Founder Focus: How An Injury Led To A Business Idea

By Abigail Bassett, Sunstone Staff Writer 

Joseph Rapaport has always been an athlete. A severe back injury in 2017 posed a significant question: surgery or physical therapy? Choosing the latter, Rapaport embarked on a journey that led to a business idea — the concept for Kenko Physical Therapy.

Rapaport’s choice to avoid surgery and give physical therapy (PT) a shot became one of the handful of catalysts that led him and his business partner, Allen Song (whom Rapaport later met in graduate school), to create Kenko Physical Therapy in 2022. It is a comprehensive, patient-focused exercise prescription platform.

Song is a veteran who also suffered a back injury during a military deployment. Rapaport says that the two met and hit it off because they both had to stretch at the back of the classroom each day to ease the pain of long periods of sitting through graduate classes at USC.

Engaging The Injured

“We were working on the idea for our class project, determining if it was going to be feasible,” Rapaport said. “We got a lot of attention, and a lot of physical therapists that we were interviewing were saying, one of the biggest issues that they have is patient engagement.”

What Rapaport and Song found in their survey of PTs is common knowledge in the industry. In fact, according to a study from 2022*, only 35% of patients adhere to their rehab protocol following surgery for several reasons, including ease of access to the exercises they are supposed to do. Most PTs hand out their instructions on paper, which patients frequently lose or discard. Kenko seeks to solve that problem by making physical therapy exercises available digitally.

“Instead of handing their patients a sheet of paper,” Rapaport said, “PTs give them (patients) a code from Kenko to be able to download the platform. Now, patients will have guided videos that physical therapists get to curate based upon the patient’s needs, as well as their own preferences. And it helps incentivize the patient because they can follow along, anytime, anywhere on their phone.”

Kenko Physical Therapy offers a secure platform where PTs can either choose from a library of video content that shows patients how to correctly do specific rehabilitation exercises or upload their own videos for their patients and prescribe those movements through the app. Rapaport points out that there’s a gamification element to the app. It uses a graphic similar to those on Apple Watches to show how close a patient is to achieving their exercise goals. It also allows physical therapists to monitor patient progress.

Since neither Rapaport nor Song are physical therapists, they have a PT advisor, Cheri Chan, who performs the exercises in the video library.

The platform is currently a Business-to-Business-to-Consumer model. Physical therapists sign up to use the platform and pay a fee. They then have access to the video library and secure ways to transmit and prescribe video exercises for their patients. The application offers PTs progression data on how the patient is doing with the exercises and gives patients incentives (like digital badges) for completing their workouts.

Kenko Physical Therapy is part of the current Long Beach Accelerator cohort. Rapaport says it’s been invaluable to the company’s growth, which now boasts 49 customers and a staff of seven people, including the two founders. Rapaport says that Kenko has “gained a lot of great value” from the LBA, including access to a great CFO mentor who helped the company organize its books.

Rapaport is also very positive about the LBA capital partner, Sunstone Management, and its impact on the business, saying, “It’s been great to have a supporter, not only financially, but an organization that is comfortable with, like helping give us a little bit more network resources as well.”

For more, go to Kenko Physical Therapy.

* BMC Sports, Medicine and Rehabilitation

Note: We refer to early-stage technology entrepreneurs as Founders. The information provided here is to inform about the types of small business start-ups that have been selected for participation in certain programs in which Sunstone participates. The information provided here is aspirational and there is no assurance of success. Early-stage investing comes with an inherently high degree of risk, including the loss of some or all of an investment. The information provided is neither an offer to sell or an inducement to offer to buy interests in any Sunstone sponsored fund that may have invested in the Founder.

About Long Beach Accelerator

The Long Beach Accelerator provides early-stage tech startups with the resources and runway they need to flourish.  The LBA has a current application cycle open for Cohort 7.  The LBA is a public-private partnership between the city of Long Beach, Sunstone Management, and CSULB and has been named one of Southern California’s top tech accelerators by dot.LA.

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About Sunstone Management  

Sunstone Management is a diversified private capital management firm with headquarters in Southern California that provides a range of early-stage venture capital, real estate, and fixed income funds to qualified and accredited investors.  The firm delivers new and exciting options for economic growth through innovative public-private partnerships, making use of its unique experience across government, education, and private sectors. Identified by Financial Times as one of America’s Fastest Growing Companies three years in a row. In the second quarter of 2023, PitchBook ranked Sunstone the seventh most active early-stage venture capital firm in the country, and 18th overall.

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