What is HitCheck?
HitCheck is a cognitive assessment aid that helps you track individuals’ unique performance over time and screen for sudden changes after a potential brain injury that may require additional medical attention. With HitCheck, you use your smartphone to perform a quick sideline assessment of an individual’s unique performance in nine key areas commonly affected by brain injuries: balance, reaction time, coordination, short-term memory, long-term memory, color recognition, impulse control, pattern recognition and problem solving.
Designed for everyday use, the app’s interactive, game-like tests make it easy to collect comprehensive, objective and player-specific data you can share with a qualified athletic trainer or medical practitioner to aid their evaluation and care recommendations.
Meet our Passionate Team of Doers, Builders and Thinkers
Mike PihaCo-founder/Chief Executive Officer
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.
Jake Benford, MDCo-Founder & Chief Medical Officer
Dr. Jake Benford is our co-founder and the medical mind behind HitCheck. As an ER and sports medicine physician with experience in concussion diagnosis and management, he has treated thousands of patients – both on and off the field.
Jake began his healthcare career in 1988 as an athletic trainer. After working with the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers, he knew his true calling was in sports medicine and enrolled in medical school to start the next chapter of his career. In his two decades as an MD, Jake has worked with multiple professional, college and high school athletic programs including the San Francisco 49ers, the NBA Development-League Santa Cruz Warriors, UCSC and Cabrillo College.
When he’s not wearing his stethoscope, you can find Jake shooting hoops with friends, chasing waves in Santa Cruz, snowboarding in Lake Tahoe or cooking with his family.
Robert LernerChief Financial Officer
Robert is a self-employed Consulting CFO to various companies in the software and related technology industries. He previously served in executive financial roles at public companies including Siebel Systems, Fortinet, Excite@Home (previously @Home Network), Sybase and Cypress Semiconductor, as well as with private technology companies including AlienVault and Aerohive.
He currently serves on the board of KeyPoint Credit Union, a $1 billion credit union serving Bay Area technology employees, as well as with the Peninsula Chapter of Amigos de las Americas. He is also active in Financial Executives International (FEI). Robert earned his Bachelors Degree in Accounting from Marshall University and his MBA from Georgia State University.
Robert lives with his wife in Los Altos and enjoys cycling and travel.
Liz BurkhartVP Marketing/Communications
Liz brings more than a decade of strategic branding, marketing and PR experience to HitCheck, having most recently led global communications efforts for Whole Foods Market (FORTUNE 200 company and recent Amazon acquisition). Throughout her career, Liz has worked hand-in-hand with executive and VP-level leadership to drive business results through strategic, multichannel communications campaigns and has garnered more than 300 national news stories in top-tier outlets, including Wall Street Journal, Inc.com, Fast Company, Bloomberg News, The New York Times, ABC’s Nightline and The Motley Fool.
Nishit RathodChief Technology Officer
Nishit is a 3x entrepreneur having built and sold 3 technology companies – including Co-founder and CTO of both Audiolife & GoodThreads.
Audiolife provided innovative services in the music industry and helped hundreds of thousands of clients including such accomplished artists as Paul McCartney, Rihanna, and Eminem. Audiolife was acquired by Alliance Entertainment in 2012.
GoodThreads provided integrated merchandise solutions for nonprofits and vendors to nonprofit organizations. GoodThreads was acquired by Zazzle in 2014.
Nishit is a business advisor, speaker, musician, writer, life coach, and a lifetime practitioner of Yoga. With a voracious appetite for learning, Nishit appreciates all aspects of building products and companies from the ground up: Product, Strategy, Business Modeling, Branding, Messaging, Technology, and so on.
Sam CassidyDirector of Customer Experience
Sam brings nearly a decade of customer service experience to HitCheck and is passionate about building relationships with individuals and businesses alike. She has worked as a self-employed writer and editor with start-up companies and individuals, including New York Times best-selling author, Sahara Rose Ketabi and Soho-based social media firm Obviously. Sam’s primary focus was content creation and social media campaigns, as well as copywriting, blogging and PR services. After graduating summa cum laude from the University of Alabama, Sam spent a year living outside of Paris, France working as an English teacher in French elementary and middle schools. A native Rhode Islander, she enjoys her time by the ocean, as well as traveling and frequenting coffee shops.
Jamie NortonChief Design Officer
Jamie brings 20+ years of branding and graphic design experience to the HitCheck team. In recent years Jamie has provided branding and design services to companies such as Whole Foods Market, Whole Foods 365 Stores, Liberty Mutual, Global Animal Partnership, Panorama Meats, Nanosys and Modern Market.
A proud Boston native, (with an arguably unhealthy passion for the Patriots) Jamie has happily traded in his winter boots for flip-flops and warmer winters in Corralitos, CA.
Jordyn RortvedtCustomer Service Specialist
Jordyn offered her services to help HitCheck baseline over 200 Colorado hockey players in the winter of 2016 and the rest is history! With over 5 years of experience in the customer service industry and a passion for sports and fitness, Jordyn is the perfect ally for coaches and leagues working to baseline their athletes. Jordyn is currently working towards her personal training certification – and as a mom of 2, spends much of her time chasing down energetic little ones in Broomfield, Colorado.
Medical and Business Advisors
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!
Matthew Schmitz, MDMedical Advisor
Dr. Schmitz is an Orthopedic Surgeon and the Team Physician for USA Rugby. He received his medical degree from Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.
Brian Jian, MD PHDMedical Advisor
Dr. Brian Jian is a neurosurgeon who received his medical degree from University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and completed his residency at University of California San Francisco in 2012. Dr. Jian is affiliated with the Kaiser Permanente Sacramento Medical Center.
Geoff WilsonBusiness Development Advisor
Former Chief Operating Officer, KPMG Asia Pacific; Member of KPMG’s Asia Pacific Executive Group; Board Member of the Australian Business Community Network; Board Member of Jawun Indigenous Corporate Partnerships; Board Member of the Sydney Festival; Member of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation Chairman’s Panel; Council Member of the Australian School of Business; Council Member of Knox Grammar School; Member Male Champions of Change; Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants; Fellow of Certified Practicing Accountants; and Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Former CEO of KPMG Australia.
Mark BiestmanBusiness Development Advisor
Mark is an accomplished information technology executive with broad experience across multiple technology sectors, industries and geographies. He has led and managed significant global companies and organizations focused on emerging technologies with aggressive revenue targets. Demonstrated experience in leadership roles including CEO, President, CRO and EVP/Global Field Operations. His focus has primarily been in sales leadership, as he has managed large publicly traded global sales and consulting organizations responsible for $500M+ in annual revenue targets as well as early stage companies seeking their first customer citations.
Marks Key Accomplishments include:
– Grew annual revenue from $33M to $575M as SVP of global field operations at Commerce One, Inc.
– Responsible for double digit revenue growth as Vice President, Western US sales at Netscape Communications, Inc.
– Co-founded and funded the first digital advertising platform in the retail sporting goods industry at Sports Retail Networks, Inc. (www.tgngolf.com)
– Raised over $12M in Series B funding as CEO of Real Clear Technologies
– Led annual revenue growth to $135M and helped design full services portfolio as President, Bear Data Solutions
– Participated in two significant IPOs while in leadership positions at Netscape and Commerce One
Robert HagertyBusiness Development Advisor
Robert has nearly 40 years of leadership and experience in the technology industry including deep domain knowledge and understanding of the unified communications market much of which he developed during his decade long tenure as CEO, President and Chairman of Polycom, Inc., a provider of personal video systems, video and voice collaboration infrastructures and conference phones. Under his leadership, Polycom increased revenue from $37 million to $1.1 billion through organic growth and eleven key acquisitions.
Prior to joining Polycom he served as President of Stylus Assets, Ltd. and held several key executive management positions with Logitech. In addition, positions as Vice President, for Conner Peripherals and management positions at Signal Corporation and Digital Equipment Corporation.
Currently Robert is the Chairman of the Board for Plantronics, a provider of integrated headsets, software, desk phones, audio and video conferencing services. He is also an advisor to several companies including Smart Technology and Eye IO. He has sat on several boards of directors in the past including Palm, Modulus Video and as Chairman of the Board of Polycom.
Aaron WienerOperations Advisor
Aaron has been a Founder of 3 successful startups in the technology and logistics space with two of them being acquired, and a third that is in a high growth stage ($40 million raised to date). Aaron’s specialty is managing the product (with both offshore and in-house development teams) and setting up and managing the overall company operation. Aaron is a self-proclaimed “salesforce nerd” and he’s an ultimate team player.
In addition to co-founding Audiolife and Goodthreads alongside Hitcheck CTO Nishit Rathod, Aaron also co-founded Omni Projects, Inc, an on-demand storage business that is fundamentally changing the way people think about ownership of their items. To date, Omni has raised more than $40 million in venture capital and through strategic partnerships.
Mike RighterFDA/Regulatory Advisor
Mike brings experience in Regulatory Affairs and a history of working in the medical device and pharmaceutical industry to his role as a Regulatory Advisor for HitCheck. Skilled in Research and Development (R&D), U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), CE marking, Risk Management, Medical Devices, and GxP Quality Management Systems. Mike has been an end-to-end manager of regulatory submissions, strategy and execution. His current focus is in digital health diagnostics and therapeutics, software as a medical device (SaMD) and mobile medical apps.
Davante AdamsNFL Pro
Davante Adams is a wide receiver for the NFL’s Green Bay Packers. He was 53rd overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft out of Fresno State. Davante, a First Team All-Pro, was selected to the 2017 and 2018 NFL Pro Bowl. He has 4,197 yards receiving with 39 touchdown in his five NFL seasons.
Mike MautiNFL Pro
Mike Mauti is an NFL linebacker, most recently playing for the New Orleans Saints. He was the 213th overall pick by the Minnesota Vikings in the 2013 NFL draft out of Penn State. The Louisiana native was named the Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the year in 2012.
Marques ColstonNFL Pro
Marques Colston is a retired NFL wide receiver that played college football at Hofstra University, and was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the seventh round of the 2006 NFL Draft. He helped the Saints achieve victory in Super Bowl XLIV with seven receptions for 83 yards against the Indianapolis Colts. He is the Saints’ all-time franchise leader in receiving yards, yards from scrimmage, receiving touchdowns, total touchdowns, and total receptions.
Junior BryantNFL Pro
Junior Bryant is a former NFL defensive lineman who played six seasons for the San Francisco 49ers. Bryant was signed by the 49ers as an undrafted free agent. He appeared in 83 total regular season games, all with San Francisco, during his six-year career.
Ajay NwosuSoccer Pro
Ajay brings a wealth of high-level soccer knowledge, a strong network and expertise, having a background that spans more than a decade into the professional and semi-professional ranks in soccer coaching and playing both in the USA and the UK. As well as being a USSF and FA licensed coach and being on the coaching staff for the Illinois Olympic Development Program, Ajay currently serves as VP of AXIO Soccer and is Co-Founder of the ELEVEN Management sports group.
Brent JonesNFL Pro
Brent Jones Played 12 years in the National Football League, including 11 with the San Francisco 49ers, where he played in 4 Pro-Bowls, was a three-time All Pro performer and a three-time Super Bowl Champion. Brent was honored as the NFL’s Bart Starr Award recipient in 1988 for outstanding character in the home, on the field and in the community. He has been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame for both Division I and Division II.
As the Co-Founder and Managing Director of Northgate Capital in March of 2000 – he and his business partner, Tommy Vardell, raised $5B and worked alongside the premiere venture capital firms in Silicon Valley. Brent has been the keynote speaker at some of the valley’s most high profile companies, including Cisco, Google and Palo Alto Networks and has led investments in many exciting start-ups over the past 16 years. Some of these include Carbon3D, Palo Alto Networks, Admob, Meraki, Ring Central, Drawbridge, and Blue Danube.
As a parent and youth football coach for more than 30 years, HitCheck CEO Mike Piha knew all too well that concussions can be serious – especially if left undetected and untreated. What he couldn’t grasp is, why – despite growing awareness and concern around concussions – he couldn’t find a practical, affordable screening aid to help parents and coaches like him detect changes in brain functions that may require additional medical attention. Mike was determined to find a solution.
Meanwhile, Jake Benford, MD, a sports medicine physician with experience in concussion diagnosis and management was facing a similar challenge. For years, Jake had been frustrated by the lack of tools available to his patients to help them track their personal cognitive performance over time, and more specifically, before and after a potential injury. He knew that an accessible cognitive assessment aid would provide valuable, objective data to help physicians like him perform more comprehensive concussion assessments and provide more personalized care recommendations.
As fate would have it, Jake and Mike crossed paths. Within months they had assembled a talented team of developers, tech experts and medical advisors to create a fun, easy and scientific game-like cognitive assessment anyone can use from a smartphone. HitCheck was born. Their vision is taking shape as active individuals, teams and organizations of all types and sizes are turning to HitCheck to aid in tracking players’ cognitive performance over time, right on the sideline.