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Seattle venture capitalist Dan Levitan teams with his brothers to fight COVID-19 with unique project

The final time Dan Levitan labored on a project with his two brothers, Richard and Robert, they had been in highschool. Within the time since, on reverse sides of the nation, the Levitans have discovered particular person success in venture capital, entrepreneurship and emergency drugs.

Now the brothers are teaming up once more ― turning their consideration and unique abilities to the devastating impacts of COVID-19.

The Levitans have fashioned a brand new non-profit known as Prone2Help that gives particular cushions to healthcare staff to assist in “proning,” the observe of positioning sufferers on their stomachs.

The no-cost remedy has been proven to enhance consolation and assist non-intubated sufferers breathe extra simply, lowering the necessity and demand for ventilators. And it’s been called a life saver.

It’s a problem the brothers by no means imagined tackling collectively. However in some ways, they’re ideally suited to take it on.

Dan Levitan is the co-founder of Maveron, the Seattle-based venture capital agency he began with former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. Robert Levitan is a serial entrepreneur in New York Metropolis who began such firms as iVillage and Flooz. And Richard Levitan is an emergency doctor in New Hampshire, the founding father of Airway Cam Applied sciences and a pacesetter in intubation and airway administration.

The impetus for Prone2Help got here as Richard was in triage mode throughout a high-profile 10-day emergency room stint in New York Metropolis, volunteering his providers and “ingesting out of a hearth hose” at Bellevue Hospital, as Dan put it. Richard and his brother spoke each evening, and he instructed Dan the hospital wanted proning mattresses.

They sourced “susceptible consolation bolsters” from a San Diego firm known as EarthLite and despatched 10 to Bellevue Hospital and 5 extra to Maimonides Medical Heart in Brooklyn. As cushions went out and phrase of fine outcomes got here again, Richard instructed his brothers that they had to stick with it.

Again in Seattle, Dan reached out to his good friend Jack Anderson, founding father of the longtime model design agency Hornall Anderson, which has since grow to be Sid Lee. A crew there put collectively a Prone2Help web site in days, at no cost.

Up to now, Prone2Help has distributed greater than 250 proning cushions to greater than 125 hospitals in 30 states. Healthcare organizations can attain out free of charge cushions, and people who are in a position can donate cash by way of the Prone2Help web site.

Dan stated it has been a “enjoyable project” working with his brothers for the primary time since they had been children rising up in New York. “It type of revisits all of the sibling points you would possibly count on,” he stated.

Dan is 4 years older than his twin brothers, and he joked concerning the dynamic of mainly launching a startup of types with them — particularly contemplating his years of expertise serving to new firms get off the bottom.

“I’m older and one of many two of them thinks of me because the older brother and the opposite one doesn’t. I’ll allow you to think about which one which could be,” he stated. “I used to try to divide and conquer with them after I was a child.”

Now the brothers are dividing duties, with Richard on the entrance strains, Robert performing as government director of Prone2Help and Dan dealing with the funding, a job constant with his Maveron duties the place his notable investments have included Zulily, eBay, Trupanion, Drugstore.com and Allbirds. The work has introduced the three collectively and given them a renewed appreciation for one another’s expertise.

“Dan has financed a whole bunch of firms and suggested a whole bunch of entrepreneurs,” Robert stated. “It’s all the time nice to work with good individuals who have priceless expertise, however it’s additional particular when it’s your brother.”

Richard’s expertise as an emergency doctor dealing with COVID pneumonia have definitely gained consideration. He’s written for The New York Instances and been written about, when the co-op board at his brother’s condominium constructing instructed the physician he couldn’t keep there.

Richard has been a visitor on TV information reveals together with “Amanpour & Co.” on PBS and “Anderson Cooper 360” on CNN. He’s been a prolific tweeter all through the pandemic, sharing his insights, frustrations and victories, and even gaining the attention of Elon Musk.

Dr. Richard Levitan explains what we will be taught from Italy so as to lower the variety of sufferers on ventilators. @hari @airwaycam #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/PYAmf7lQne

— Amanpour and Firm (@AmanpourCoPBS) April 28, 2020

https://t.co/6Ndc9dBjuN. day to day operations dealt with by my brother Robert @prone2help, and initiation of gifting began by my brother Dan.@Maveron It’s a household affair (aka Sly and The Household Stones!) https://t.co/az4HTB3Zbg

— airwaycam (@airwaycam) May 2, 2020

Recognizing the gravity of the scenario that Richard leapt into when he went to New York to assist fight the virus, his brothers aren’t shy about praising his efforts. Robert known as him “brave” and “the proper man for the job” after 30 years as an airway knowledgeable.

“Richard all the time appears to discover sensible options to complicated issues,” Robert stated. “Proning and pulse oximeters are usually not new discoveries. However Richard’s message about these instruments and their use within the battle in opposition to COVID-19 are making a big impression.”

Dan known as Richard an “adventurer” who has been that means all his life, and stated that whereas he worries about him, he is aware of it’s his calling.

“I’m simply very grateful that he’s had a possibility to use his expertise and hopefully contribute to the event of information beating this horrible illness,” Dan stated.

Richard deflected the reward, saying he was no hero. He known as out medical doctors, nurses, EMTs, respiratory therapists, janitors, meals clerks and bus drivers within the metropolis who confronted the illness earlier than he acquired there and are nonetheless there for the lengthy haul.

The brothers are actually speaking to different mattress producers to meet demand. They’ve organized a deal with FedEx to scale back delivery prices, and Dan linked Richard with a “best-of-breed” PR agency.

“I used to be impressed by Richard’s volunteering in New York to ask myself, ‘What can I do to assist?’” Robert stated. “At a time when most of us are being requested to merely keep residence, I’m grateful to have discovered a means to be of service.”

And in the long run, brothers who went separate methods on their profession paths have come collectively once more, to acquire a brand new appreciation for what they every can do, throughout essentially the most attempting of occasions. Robert stated the brothers have all the time been mission pushed of their work, and this essential mission has been impactful.

“Typically, when enthusiastic about it, I smile and say to myself, ‘Our dad and mom are trying down and feeling very proud.’”

Calling himself a “helpful widget” due to the talents he brings to the continuing fight, Richard, too, mirrored on the lottery of life.

“It’s my first pandemic, however it has made me notice who I really like and what I care about,” he stated. “I really like my brothers.”

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