Advice for Startups from A Venture Director

The last 10% it takes to launch something takes as much energy as the first 90%.
— Rob Kalin, Etsy Founder

Initially launching your first startup can be a challenge.

This is true even more so in the field of digital health due to clinical validation measures and FDA clearances that can add another layer of complexity to getting your innovation off of the ground. Many times at Junto Health, we hear from startups who are all facing similar issues when it comes to issues such raising funds for clinical trials, yet not being able to raise these funds without outcome data which creates a true paradox. 

It can be hard to find a straight answer as to what you should do if you are a healthcare startup that is looking to make a big splash and gain investors. To help cut through some of the noise we decided to ask a Strategic Venture Director at a top 5 AMC for his top tips for startups.

1. Simply wanting to “change the world” is not enough to succeed in healthcare

It’s not like other industries where you can come up with a new app or a new algorithm and expect the world to follow. Third-party payment, regulatory overhead, the strength of existing patient-provider relationships, long sales cycles, diffuse decision-making – all these things combine to make life difficult for start-ups. If you don’t understand these things and cannot speak to how you’re addressing/mitigating them, you’re not going to have a shot at succeeding.

2.  Pilots are a mixed blessing

On one hand they can demonstrate traction with a system…but on the other hand, systems often do them because they want to feel innovative without really being willing to drive true change. As a result, they tend to lack follow-up plans. If you can’t get a customer to define the terms under which the pilot will transition into a customer contract, I’d seriously consider whether you even want to do that pilot.

3. Technology is just a small part of innovation

The other 95% is working through people and processes. Think through the implications of your technology. What people and process changes do you need to happen on the customer side to be successful (and are you expecting too much)?

4. Develop Valuable Outputs

While it’s nice that you may be able to serve up data to end-users (such as front-line clinicians), if they don’t know how to make decisions on the basis of that data, you’re just creating another dashboard that will get ignored. This is particularly true for wearable data. What can you to bridge that gap?

If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.
— Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn Co-founder