Who Are We?
We are a passionate team of parents, athletes, coaches and physicians who believe concussion screening should be as routine as lacing up your shoes.
What is HitCheck?
HitCheck is the mobile app that helps you screen for signs of a concussion in minutes — anytime, anywhere — right from your smartphone. Designed for everyday use by parents, coaches and active individuals of all ages, the app’s game-like test measures brain functions that indicate the likelihood of concussion and delivers real-time results so you can:
- Make more-informed decisions about when to sit out, seek medical attention or get back in the game.
- Share a timely, personalized assessment with a medical practicioner to improve diagnoses and treatment
- Monitor recovery
- Track concussion history
- Make smarter return-to-play decisions.
- Detect underlying symptoms (with regular testing)
As a dad and youth football coach for more than 30 years, HitCheck CEO Mike Piha knew all too well that concussions can be serious business – especially if left untreated. What he couldn’t grasp is, why – despite the growing awareness and concern around concussions – he couldn’t find a practical, affordable screening tool to help parents and coaches like him detect them. He set out to find a solution.
As fate would have it, in the summer of 2016, Mike discovered a mobile app concept that he knew — with the right group of developers and tech experts — could change the concussion screening game.
Within months, Mike was sitting down with our executive chairman Rod Beckstrom, founder and CEO of several Silicon Valley tech companies, to get his advice on how to perfect the idea and bring it to the masses.
The duo quickly assembled a team of tech and medical experts to develop a fun, easy and scientific game-like assessment that anyone could use right from their smartphone. HitCheck was born and the rest is history.
Crafted by a Passionate Team of Doers, Builders and Thinkers
Mike PihaChief Executive Officer & Team Coach
Mike Piha is our CEO and resident coach. Drawing on more than 20 years’ experience as a successful entrepreneur and multi-million dollar business owner in Silicon Valley, Mike is an idea shaper, play caller and team motivator.
One of Mike’s true life passions is coaching youth football. For more than 30 years, he’s volunteered his time to coaching and inspiring young athletes, many of which have gone on to play college and professional football. As co-founder of the NorCal Youth Football league, he has brought the game to more than 7,000 youth and in 2010, Mike was inducted into the American Youth Football Hall of Fame.
When Mike’s not building companies or volunteering on the field, you can find him racking up miles on his road bike, golfing with his two sons, enjoying the San Francisco city life or taking in a Giants game with his wife, Cheryl.
Rod BeckstromExecutive Chairman
Rod is an Okie who fell in love with technology and moved out to Stanford University, where he founded his first company. He’s a serial entrepreneur and co-founder of numerous technology companies including CATS Software that he took public on NASDAQ as Chairman and CEO. He has also run non-profits (like ICANN) and worked for the U.S. Government running the National Cybersecurity Center. He has worked and travelled in 77 countries.
He lives on the beach in Santa Cruz and tries to keep up with his wife on century bike rides like the Gran Fondo. He also enjoys yoga and boating.
Jason BeattyTechnology Advisor
Jason advises HitCheck’s technical vision, influencing the company’s strategic direction, development of future growth and works in a consultative fashion with the founders. Jason has been a long-time entrepreneur who has successfully co-founded and sold several technology startups, he continues to build great companies as well as develop and manage the design and construction of useful, easy-to-use web-based products and technologies.
Jason will tell you that his extreme sport is taking great ideas and turning them into successful products, but he has well over 100 skydives, regularly takes his Ducati to the race track, mountain bikes the Santa Cruz redwoods and has been seen skateboarding the occasional pool (wearing a helmet).
Bob SimpsonFinancial Advisor
As a CPA with more than 30 years’ experience in finance and management, Bob eats numbers for breakfast. That’s why we’ve put our books in his capable hands. He’s a seasoned pro with CFO experience in multiple sectors, including technology, hospitality, apparel and wine. He also loves spending time on and in the ocean – from his sailboat and in scuba gear. Fortunately for us, he’s also passionate about keeping active people safe.
Liz BurkhartVice President of Marketing
Jamie NortonChief Design Officer
As Chief Design Officer, Jamie has the artful task of channeling all of our creative energy and ideas into compelling visuals that tell our story. In short, we put his 20+ years of branding and graphic design experience to good use on the regular.
A proud Boston native, Jamie hasn’t missed a Red Sox Opening Day since 1997 and has an (arguably unhealthy) passion for the New England Patriots. Once a varsity quarterback, Jamie’s happily traded in his cleats for a pair of flip-flops and warmer winters in Santa Cruz.
Gary HermanSoftware Architect & Senior Engineer
Gary Herman is our head of software architecture and engineering (aka tech whisperer). He’s worked on hundreds of web and mobile apps throughout his 15-year career, and specializes in wrestling complicated concepts into easy-to-use apps that even the most technically challenged user can master. If you don’t believe us, ask eBay, AT&T, Cisco, NetApp, Ubisoft, PG&E, University of California – Santa Cruz, or the myriad of startups that have turned to Gary and his team at Jabico to develop apps that tackle immediate business needs.
Gary’s also done his fair share of tackling and grappling on the football field and wrestling mat – which is one of the reasons he’s so passionate about our mission. When he’s not nerding out on client apps or learning about new technology, you can find Gary working with nonprofits to bring their mission to the world through technology.
Eric BeckstromChief Strategy Officer
Eric Beckstrom is our Chief Strategy Officer. He supports the “keep youths active” mission of HitCheck and brings an architect’s “multi-stakeholder” approach to supporting the strategic mission of the company. He has a passion for collaboration, organizational development and helping people thrive.
His professional background in architecture has been broad and varied, designing estates, beach cottages, farmhouses, family homes, summer camps, cafes, multi-use buildings and urban development. He also spent 2 years working with stakeholders in Manila, Philippines to effect change in economic policy and urban strategies for slum-dweller citizens. He has worked in the East Coast, London, Stockholm, New York, Manila and the San Francisco Bay Area.
Eric played football and raced motocross as a teenager, so he understands first-hand the need for safety when participating in impact sports.
When not working, Eric enjoys spending time with his three kids and girlfriend traveling, hiking, biking and enjoying the great outdoors.
Emma BeckstromBranding Advisor
Emma brings a welcome mix of smarts and charm to the HITCheck team. Emma rolls up her sleeves and gives us all a run for our money — assisting with everything from creative design to strategic planning. Emma was also a high school lacrosse goalie (and no stranger to dodging blows to the dome). She’s an overall fitness enthusiast, sport fishing captain-in-training and a soon-to-be senior at the University of Alabama.
Dr. Brian Jian, MDMedical Advisor
Dr. Kal Patel, MDMedical Advisor
Kal Patel is a seasoned healthcare executive with deep expertise and passion for digital health. Kal was most recently Chief Commercial Officer for Doctor on Demand, now the nations largest video-medicine provider backed by Andreessen Horowitz, Venrock, Google, Qualcomm and other leading investors. He built the companies go-to-market and commercial infrastructure and grew daily visit volume by over 3X over the past year. Previously Kal founded and built Amgen’s Digital Health business unit where he had end-to-end responsibility for developing and commercializing a portfolio of digital products in connected devices, advanced algorithms/decision making and next-generation marketing where he launched multiple regulated devices. Kal also serves as an advisor and/or consultant to various digital health start ups and established companies.
Prior to his focus on digital health at Amgen, Kal was the Global Marketing Lead for Enbrel, the companies leading drug with over $5B in sales where he created and launched major investments in novel clinical trials, innovative drug delivery devices, improved formulations and differentiated patient support programs. Kal started his Amgen career as Head of Corporate Strategy where he built that capability from a nascent group into a robust organization with deep skills and expertise to support all major functional areas of the business.
Kal also spent several years at Novartis Pharmaceuticals in various sales, marketing and account management leadership roles. He began his professional career at the Boston Consulting Group where he worked for a broad portfolio of Healthcare companies across the U.S. and Europe. He was part of BCG’s prestigious Ambassador program which allowed him to transfer to the companies Budapest office and was also promoted early to Principal.
Kal received his MD, MBA and BA in Economics from the University of Chicago where he earned multiple scholarships and honors. He enjoys traveling and great food & wine and (finally!) the joy of being a lifelong Cubs fan!
Jake BenfordMedical Advisor
Jake is an ER and sports medicine physician who specializes in the diagnosis and management of concussions and serves as HitCheck’s medical advisor. Throughout his career he’s worked with multiple professional, college and high school athletic programs including the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers, the NBA’s Development-League Santa Cruz Warriors, University of California, Santa Cruz and Cabrillo College. After years of frustration with the lack of tools available to help evaluate and manage his patients’ concussions, Jake came up with the idea of gamifying concussion screening through a mobile app. He brought the idea to Mike and Rod and the HitCheck team brought his idea to life.
When he’s not wearing his stethoscope, you can find Jake shooting hoops with friends, chasing waves in Santa Cruz, snow boarding in Lake Tahoe or cooking with his family.
Albert De GuzemanWeb Developer
As the engine behind our website, Albert brings our brand to life online (a mystical feat of caffeine-fueled coding best admired from afar). In addition to developing and designing websites for groovy companies like HITCheck, Albert enjoys building apps and crushing even more code in his free time. We don’t ask why. Among his more relatable interests are surfing, mountain biking and running. Like many members of our team, it was Albert’s lifelong love for sports that drew him to HITCheck. He also makes a mean Korean taco.
Desmond (aka Dezi)Team Dog
As the team goofball, Dezi plays a key role in distracting and making the staff smile on a daily basis. When he’s not “busy” dozing off under the conference table or showing off his latest ‘do, Dezi can be found greeting visitors or trotting through the office in search of a good belly rub. His favorite hobby is sniffing out seals in the Santa Cruz harbor and he’s never met a ball he won’t fetch.