Since joining True Ventures earlier this June, I’ve been drinking from the proverbial firehose – learning tons about the venture capital business, meeting with amazing entrepreneurs, and simply learning from the great team around me. Since joining, we’ve completed a great number of follow-on financings, I’ve spent some time working within our portfolio on marketing, and even sourced a new deal with Kiip.
Moving forward, I’m going to be spending more time researching markets for outbound deal sourcing. With Twitter and About.me previously resulting in some interesting leads – most recently 60Mo & eBerri - I figured the best to start this would be to post my thoughts publicly on my blog for feedback, criticism, and recommendations of where to dig further.
The first of these themes is: Customer Experience at the Intersection of Health, Wellness, and Technology.
While at the University of Florida, I worked on a class assignment that focused on marketing for a new healthcare startup, Voalte, based in Sarasota, FL. Voalte is an awesome new company focused on redefining point of care communication at hospitals – by proving a robust and easy-to-use workflow App for Doctors and Nurses – on top of everyday mobile platforms.
When the team first started Voalte, they talked to the CIOs at major hospitals across the United States as part of their customer development process and asked all of them the same question: “If you thought about all the vendors that you deal with, who would you say ‘gets it right?’”
The most common answer taken directly from the team on the Voalte Blog:
Over and over the response was a blank stare and the occasional “What do you mean?” (expressed in a tone of “you mean there’s an alternative?”) or the usual “They all suck.” The most telling response came from an IT director who told us that he deals with over 600 vendors and not a single one stands out above the rest. This came as a shock to us. For me personally, it was especially disappointing that there was no healthcare equivalent to the “Starbucks experience,” so to speak.
In most cases, this experience extends beyond the hospital enterprise and directly to consumers. From my own personal experiences, my father was recently diagnosed with diabetes and has begun a daily regimen to track his blood sugar and food he eats. For lack of better options, he does this using pen and paper 5 times a day – no way to search, analyze data on the backend, or upload it to his medical records easily.
While traditional IT venture capital has shunned away from both medical and devices, I believe the new batch of web-savvy early-stage VCs are the best positioned to take advantage of these types of opportunities – both at the enterprise and consumer level for five key reasons:
1. Active consumer interest in better tracking and managing their healthcare data (especially respective to costs)
2. Ability to piggyback off of previous FDA approved devices to decrease time to market
3. Growth of smart phone devices already inside the enterprise and in consumers pockets
4. Enhanced connectivity via Wifi and 3G almost everywhere
5. Availability of NIMH and NSF Grants for early stage technologies
In a nutshell – think lean startup meets healthcare IT.
I had early experience with this while at the Synogen Incubator in Gainesville, where we able to get to keep costs low for new startups spun out of the research at UF by leveraging University resources and grant financing for most, if not all early funding. Other recent examples of companies in this space include Predictive Biosciences (who raised just a 500k seed round to get product validation), Voalte, and MapMyRun. From within the True Portfolio, Fitbit and Valencell would fall directly within this theme.
Over the next few posts, I’ll dig deeper into some specific segments of the market including:
1. Improvements in Patient Adherence
2. Health 2.0 and Big Data (Actionable Insight and Gaming)
3. Personalized Data Tracking Devices and Apps
4. Use of the iPad and iPhone within the Hospital Enterprise
5. Customer Cost focused Apps