Joe Rapaport and Allen Song, the co-founders of Kenko, met during their Master’s degree in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at USC’s Marshall School of Business.
During orientation week in summer 2021, they discovered they had similar experiences dealing with chronic pain and were trying to recover from injuries they sustained throughout their past personal and professional lives.
Working on a class project together, the two soon realized that they both had a passion for helping people suffering from chronic pain get back to feeling like the best version of themselves.
You can read their stories below.
Joe grew up bi-coastally in both Southern California and Washington DC and loves all kinds of sports. When Michael Jordan came out of retirement and started playing for the Wizards, he fell in love with basketball. He also enjoys surfing - very untypical for a Californian.
Joe swam competitively in high school and discovered his passion for strength training while studying at Northeastern University. In college, Joe spent all his free time at the gym, the Marino Center, which resulted in him being known as “Mr. Marino” amongst his friends.
During a cooperative education program with Reebok, Joe discovered CrossFit – he enjoyed it so much that he became a level 1 coach and started to compete in amateur competitions.
Working a 9-to-5 job with a 40-mile commute, Joe found himself spending lots of time sitting, either at work or in his car. One day, after being stuck in traffic and arriving late to a workout session, there was no time to warm up, so Joe directly jumped into the workout. One squat in, and he felt a sharp pain shooting down his lower back. He had severely compressed his L4, and could not get out of bed the next day due to the excruciating pain.
Not wanting to get spinal surgery, Joe decided to start physical therapy to deal with his extreme pain. During the three-year recovery process, Joe often found that he lacked the confidence at home to correctly perform the prescribed exercises from his physical therapist.
Going through this frustrating experience and hearing similar stories from friends and colleagues working 9-to-5, Joe decided that he wants to help those people get back to living the lives they used to, or aimed to live - without dealing with body aches or injuries. To learn how to build a solution for this problem, Joe decided to pursue his Master’s of Science in Entrepreneurship and Innovation from USC Marshall - where he met Allen.
Allen was born and raised in Southern California. As the son of South Korean immigrants, he grew up with a realistic understanding of what it means to be an entrepreneur since his parents both ran their own businesses. Allen loves camping, being active outdoors (he backpacked through Southeast Asia in 2014), and craft beers. Also an avid runner, he completed the LA marathon in 2020 (pictured on the left).
Serving in the military
Not really knowing which specific steps to take after graduating with his Bachelor's in Business Administration and Management at the University of California, Riverside, Allen decided to pursue a childhood dream of his – joining the military.
He spent five years working in military intelligence, two of them stationed in South Korea, where he was able to connect deeper with his heritage and culture. After that, he spent some time in Texas, before he moved back to California, making a quick pit stop to hit the "mighty 5" (the five major national parks in Utah) on the way home.
Allen started a job at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where he worked on governmental contracts related to IT hardware and software to leverage the business skills he acquired during college. When the pandemic hit, Allen started working from home and hated it. He decided to make use of the GI bill for veterans and pursue a Master’s degree (for free). The plan was that the Master’s of Science in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at USC would help him start his own business doing governmental contracts.
Change of plans
After meeting Joe at USC and working on a class project together, Allen reconnected with many fellow veterans suffering from physical and mental issues related to transitioning back to civilian life. He decided that helping those people would be a more fulfilling endeavor than working on governmental contracts – so he joined Joe on the mission of helping people manage their chronic pain.
Kenko at USC
In spring 2022, Allen & Joe participated in USC’s New Venture Seed Competition, where they won third place and raised funds (here pictured with Lloyd Greif) that enabled them to start building Kenko.
Kenko’s mission is to eliminate chronic pain through an End-2-End platform by creating a continuum of engagement between Physical Therapists and their patients.
We are currently in the development phase of our beta platform, which will be rolled out in autumn 2022. Stay tuned!