MassLight’s engineering for equity model lays the foundation for recently-acquired telehealth startup’s success
Advantia Health’s recent acquisition of Pacify Health highlights the success of MassLight’s unique ‘Build for Equity’ business model. Pacify’s mobile apps connect new and expectant parents with on-demand access to a network of perinatal specialists, including lactation consultants and registered nurses. Advantia Health, a women’s health group providing value-based care to over 430,000 patients in the mid-Atlantic and Midwest, acquired Pacify in a bid to extend their fast-growing physical presence into the virtual world. As Pacify’s technology partner, MassLight provided the software engineering services powering Pacify’s vision of 24/7 on-demand perinatal care to patients across the country.
"We wanted to provide a win-win opportunity that fully aligned the founders’ interest with our own, and we decided we would start taking equity in lieu of any other fee.”
MassLight, a D.C. based software engineering firm founded in 2000 by two ex-Apple engineers, launched their ‘Build for Equity’ practice in 2014. Build for Equity gives non-technical founders access to an experienced team of software developers and strategists while preserving cash to grow their business. Daniel Abrams, co-founder and CEO of MassLight, elaborates: “We saw how difficult it was for non-technical founders to get their ideas off the ground given the market for technical talent. We wanted to provide a win-win opportunity that fully aligned the founders’ interest with our own, and we decided we would start taking equity in lieu of any other fee.”
"[MassLight] deployed the kind of quality products and code that you'd expect from a co-owner, not a contractor."
Pacify Health was MassLight’s first Build for Equity partner. Abrams was attending a local startup conference and explaining his early concept of Build for Equity services when he met Pacify co-founders Ben Lundin and George Brandes. “I was initially skeptical of a lactation support startup run by two men and they were initially skeptical of the idea of giving away equity for software,” Abrams recounts. Despite initial skepticism, Abrams was quickly convinced that Pacify’s telehealth model had legs, and that Lundin and Brandes had the ability to turn their idea into a reality for new and expecting parents. Pacify warmed up to the idea of Build for Equity as a way to bring on long-term tech partners with a stake in Pacify’s success.
Pacify and MassLight officially teamed up in March 2015. Abrams was appointed as acting Chief Technology Officer, guiding key technology decisions, while MassLight software engineers worked on developing Pacify’s apps and infrastructure. "We couldn't be happier with the MassLight Build for Equity structure,” Lundin states. “At Pacify, we needed technology expertise, but more importantly, we needed a partner whose incentives would be completely aligned with our own. They deployed the kind of quality products and code that you'd expect from a co-owner, not a contractor."
Advantia Health’s acquisition of Pacify in April 2019 marks a key milestone in MassLight’s Build for Equity offering. As the DMV continues to prove fertile ground for new startups, interest in Build for Equity is increasing. Four years in, MassLight has a diverse and growing portfolio of Build for Equity partners. They continue to find viable startups in D.C. and beyond. Per Abrams: “We are bullish on the untapped potential of non-technical founders with strong domain expertise. We’re helping them turn their ideas into startups that can move entire industries.”
Started in 2003 in Washington DC, Masslight has served the DMV for 18+ years. We serve enterprises and startups with full-stack development and long-term project management services.