The Journey Brings Minority Founders from Across the Country to Phoenix to Build Disruptive, Early-Stage Healthcare Startups

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Melissa DiGianfilippo

Serendipit Consulting


PHOENIX – (JANUARY 30, 2023) –  Phoenix will soon be home to a healthcare-focused venture studio focused on serving diverse and underrepresented founders. The Journey Venture Studio announced its launch today, with a mission to create disruptive companies that improve healthcare outcomes while also transforming the founder’s journey.

The Journey, a 501c3 not-for-profit entity, will create and launch new healthcare startups and then identify, recruit, and empower diverse entrepreneurs to lead them as co-founder and CEO. Aspiring entrepreneurs will go through a rigorous interview process, and once accepted and assigned a company will go through a rigorous growth program designed to jump start the company’s success. The Journey provides hands-on support, investment , mentorship and programming, allowing founders to develop, prototype and scale their startup.

The Journey is the brainchild of Valley healthcare entrepreneur and investor, Justin Bayless and Mark Moeremans, Managing Director of The Journey and former Senior Vice President of entrepreneurship and venture development for the Arizona Commerce Authority.

“We are building a hands-on venture development team that builds and accelerates brands in healthcare,” said Moeremans. “We will attract, and develop underrepresented entrepreneurs from all over the country and bring them here to Phoenix, giving them the competitive edge and resources they need to build world-class, successful businesses that make an impact from right here in Arizona.”

A venture studio serves as an idea factory, differing from traditional incubator or accelerator models in that it starts with the business idea and has access to all of the resources to research, vet, and prototype the concept before finding the right talent to partner with the idea as co-founder.

“This is where we have an opportunity to hand select these incredibly capable and impressive diverse entrepreneurs who may not have access to the same resources or financial cushion to fall back on to allow them to take a risk and start their own business,” said Moeremans. “We are removing the typical barriers while giving them a clear path that will empower them to take that entrepreneurial leap.”

Moeremans’ background, experience and passion make him an ideal fit for the role. His own Journey began with humble beginnings; an immigrant father, a working class upbringing and a sibling who has struggled with addiction and mental health challenges that have led to frequent collisions with the criminal justice system.  Through hard work and relentless determination, he earned degrees from Boston College and Stanford’s Graduate School of Business where he served as student body co-president. He has consulted Fortune 50 companies while working at Deloitte Consulting and led companies as an Operating Executive for Alpine Investors, a Bay Area private equity firm. Mark has long seen entrepreneurship as a path to prosperity serving on the board of a global non-profit working in Ghana to launch clean water social enterprises, working the Bosnian government to train young people to become entrepreneurs to revitalize the country’s economy, and most recently growing Arizona’s tech and startup ecosystem through the state’s economic development agency. During his four-year tenure at the Arizona Commerce Authority, Moeremans helped the state’s small business and startup community navigate the pandemic, launched a three-month virtual accelerator program and was instrumental in growing the state’s Venture Capital environment – helping launch the UNMET Arizona conference and securing more than $100 million dollars in federal grant dollars for startup investment and small business loan programs.

Jill Johnson also joins Moeremans as one of the first full-time team members of The Journey, serving as development director. Johnson has spent the past 10 years working for the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley, most recently serving as senior director of business development playing an integral role in the organization raising $30 million this past fiscal year.

Bayless is one of very few Arizona minority entrepreneurs who successfully exited to a Fortune 500 company. He sold Bayless Healthcare to Magellan Health in 2020 which was acquired by Centene just days later.

“Venture capital and tech are powerful vehicles for driving innovation and solving real problems we face, yet not everyone gets an opportunity to participate equally,” said Bayless. “Only 2% of all venture funding goes to female founders and even less to founders of color. This imbalance represents moral and market failure. We will change that through The Journey.”

Bayless has invested big to bring this dream to a reality. He is currently transforming one of his former Bayless Healthcare buildings at 3620 N. 3rd Street in central Phoenix to become the headquarters for The Journey, with a planned completion of year end 2023. The multi-million dollar renovation includes 9,000-square-feet with private workspaces for each founder accepted to the program, collaboration spaces, event space, a full gym and more. The building will also be the home to another company Justin has recently started, Ten Figures, a culturally-competent management consulting company supporting the development of BIPOC and/or women entrepreneurs. Ten Figures provides resources and in-house capabilities to support early-stage healthcare companies in their growth and development by investing in them through a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV).

The Journey plans to recruit for its first cohort starting in Q4 2023. For more information, please visit

The Journey Venture Studio

The Journey, a Phoenix-based 501c3 not-for-profit entity, is a venture studio creating and launching healthcare companies to be led by underrepresented founders.  With a mission to launch healthcare companies aimed at improving health outcomes while creating opportunities for historically underrepresented entrepreneurs from around the country through a tailored venture fellowship, The Journey will activate a new generation of diverse founders; leveling the playing field and bringing world-changing healthcare solutions and technology to life.