Startup advice from healthtech entrepreneurs

Digital Health Community | Persimmon Health

December 20, 2022

Experience is what you get while looking for something else. As digital health product experts we learned that being teachable leads to deep insights and amazing products.

In 2022 we collaborated with some of the most creative and committed people transforming healthcare challenges today. Here’s the fruit of those experiences:

In this episode of the Digital Health Community by Persimmon, Tim Cooley, Start-up Chief of Staff, Executive Director of Park City Angels, and author of  “The Pitch Deck Book” talks to Chris Sprague, CEO of Persimmon, about raising angel investments from angel investors. Tim explains what it takes to raise angel investment in the context of a digital health startup. There is a nuanced difference between consumer startups and digital health startups. Tim goes through the nuance differences and shares solid advice for entrepreneurs and Angel Investors. Watch and listen to gain actionable insights about raising investment.

‘Content creators follow your curiosity’ : Jessica Damassa, Executive Producer/Host at WTF Health

I mean, I know my energy is noxious to a bunch of people, but you know what it's what it is. And it's also I think, like, I get very nice messages from people who like it. And so thank you to everybody who supports me and listens and watches and sends me nice notes. I really read everything. I almost always write back with my LinkedIn is my work. So if you get me on LinkedIn, sometimes it's a bad day. But I appreciate all that. And so my advice to you guys would be like, like, yeah, put yourself out there, be yourself, you know, give it a scab. And like, try to think about the stuff that you would want to know, you know what I mean? Like, or you would want to ask or like, what are you curious about? And it's like, more you can kind of, like, you're in this space, what do you like to read about? What do you you know, what gets you going, and it's like, that's the kind of content like, I start to create, like, I'm a payment, innovation junkie, it's like, I will fall for that story every time like, ooh, tell me more like, came from a plan. Of course, I'm gonna love that. You know, it's like, I love like, it's a, I feel like my content, I really just follow my curiosity, which is like, I'm in a very lucky place to do that. And I would encourage anybody else who's creating content to do the same thing. It's like, think about the things that you're curious about the stuff that you like to listen to, then even the style of like, some of the folks that you like, like, I mean, I wish I could do like mob Olara on NPR, and have that great voice are like high visible on marketplace, you know, like, it really gets channeled out. But it's like, I can't it's like, those are the things I enjoy. And it's like, what do I enjoy about them? They're genuine. I feel like I know that. They can make jokes that there's candor, there's like, sometimes running themes throughout and you're like, Oh, I listened to the show forever. And And get this, because I think that's the kind of stuff that makes digital content really great.

Watch the full podcast: Trends to watch out for in digital health | Jessica DaMassa | WTF Health

‘Get emotionally connected to the problem’ : David Futoran , Co-Founder/CEO at HoneyDew Health

I'd say one is to just make sure you're emotionally connected to the problem. I think that's something that people can often overlook, when they're like, oh, I have this great idea, I want to go working on it. And I mean, having a great idea is certainly part of the process. But if it's not an idea that you're really passionate about solving from, like an impact perspective, and like a personal significance perspective, then you're gonna have a really hard time staying committed to it. Because there's going to be a lot of really hard days, it's very rare that like, things just work and they start scaling, like, more often than not, you have more bad days and good days. And on those bad days, it's really easy to just say, like, why am I spending my time on making a lot more money doing this or like, I have this other idea I want to work on and it's just not sustainable. Like you have to, every time, there's a difficult moment, you have to say, Well, I'm actually really passionate about what we're doing. And there's an impact and meaning here. And if you don't have that, you'll have a tough time. So I'd say find a problem you're actually emotionally connected to, say, also just focus, like, what's the number one thing that you can improve, because there's so many different areas to grow and expand your market, like I talked about a few of those for Honeydew. But you have to start with one really, really, really specific thing, because you won't have enough resources to make it all happen. And when you start with that one really specific things most of the time, you can actually test it, and see the interest for it without even having to build a product, which is how we got started, like what we were doing before we ever built the platform. And then I'd say the last piece of advice would just be talking to entrepreneurs. There's a huge asymmetry of information investors know a lot more than we do, especially as first time entrepreneurs are. And so just talking to people who are Jews, maybe a few steps ahead of you, they can provide advice that could sit you know, save you like literally millions and millions of dollars, just with some helpful tips. and involve them any way you can in your business. Because they're kind of, they know how things work. And entrepreneurs are really willing to help each other like I found, wherever I go, like any state like there's entrepreneurs are really willing to collaborate and give advice. So yeah, just don't be afraid to talk to people.

Watch the full podcast: Debunking the myths surrounding skincare | David Futoran | Honeydew Health

‘Learn to deal with risks’ : Florian Otto, Co-Founder/CEO at Cedar

First of all, I admire everybody who makes a real big change in their career. And going from being a physician to become an entrepreneur, it's not the most direct way. Then of course, let's call it the very direct ways to become an entrepreneur, just opening your own practice and you're an entrepreneur, right? 50% of the physicians are this kind of entrepreneur. But making this to do something that has nothing to do with medicine, and touches the field, of course, outside of really caring for patients, I think is very interesting. So the first thing is maybe, okay, really, no, why are you doing this? And I can maybe share why I did this. But I think the first was that I got really interested by doing different things throughout my career. And as a surgeon, you really are good if you do one thing again and again, so became a little bit boring for me. And then the second thing, why I was so excited about starting the company, was the scalability of that. So as a physician, you are of course limited, especially as a surgeon, your two hands, how fast, how good, can you make surgeries, so it's not that scalable. And starting a business like cedar right now interacting with more than 20 million patients a year. That is really exciting. So the one piece of advice that I would like to give to physicians, is actually something that's very physicians specific, and very, can be very dangerous in entrepreneurship. This is dealing with how to take risks. Because as a physician, you are trained not to take risks, which makes sense, when you are treating a patient right now, you're not wanting to take risks. When you do surgery, you go with a clinical pathway, so that prescribed for a certain procedure. When you're an entrepreneur, this doesn't exist, because by default, you're doing something new, you're breaking ground. So taking risks, they're usually not deadly. They're usually not harming anybody, when you take risks, they are usually two way doors. If you do something fails, you go back, you try again. So a very different mindset, I think, physician and starting a company.

Watch the full podcast: Personalized financial experience for patients | Florian Otto | Cedar

‘Simplify user experience’ : João Bocas, CEO/ Influencer at Digital Salutem

I think I already shared the little bit on, let's say, making the right noise. Identifying, mapping out the marketplace, identifying who is who doing what, and connect with people. Okay, Chris, you got an amazing company. I'm gonna follow Chris, get one eye on what Chris is doing Oh, is helping companies. I think connecting with the different stakeholders in industry is certainly very, very important. And I have my two channel crews, you know, that I interview on the big guys in medicine and healthcare, and I have exciting things coming up. So everybody, please keep an eye on that. But also, creating strategic marketing thinking around no matter how small or big you are, because everybody starts from zero followers, you have to make a start. You know, I think on Twitter, for example, I was getting very discouraged. The first year or two, I had less than 1000 followers, I was expecting to, okay, I'm gonna go on Twitter. And every day I post two or three things, and get hundreds of followers. And it doesn't work like that, you know, it is a very slow burner, slow process. Eventually, by persevering. I created an audience and a blog to 5000 10,000 20,000 I think now I've got 25 or 26,000 on Twitter, but it's been crazy, it's been over 10 years is not like a is not this is not a quick fix, you know? So perseverance, persistence, of course, but connect with others, the word SS before I mean, connect with others with other people because they all catapult you to a different place, you know, and they will help you in some shape or form. The other thing is one thing that I've learned and this applies to startups, but also to business in general, is that it might take 5-6-7 years for a company to mature, not into a multi million pound company, but even to get some kind of success. So what we expect in the startup world is one year or two years ago, a product three years, we expect things to just ramp up in the first three years. Oh, if it doesn't work, it is a failure. But it takes a good six, seven years to get to like a maturity status, at least. So don't give up too early. Make sure that you kind of are on the right track. But there are no rights or wrongs in near trees. I mean, every company is different. Some people grow very, very big in two years. Some people take 12 years, and they're still trying to figure out the marketplace. But yeah, I've been doing many, many things. And I've seen many companies have this unrealistic expectation that they should be very successful in three years

Watch the full podcast: The future of wearable technology | Joao Bocas | Digital Salutem

‘Take feedback from family and friends’ : Sarah Hill, CEO / Chief Storyteller, Healium

Your family, and your friends, or your partners, or your pets, your brother, your sister, your neighbors, who you live by, they are your first founders. And so before you take a step forward into opening your company, it has to make sure that you've developed the support system and network who is going to surround you with love and care when you fall down. Because you, as an entrepreneur, you are absolutely going to fall down, you're gonna absolutely have bad days. And so you know, make sure that you vetted that decision and say, Hey, even though you're not my co founder, as a, you know, equity in the company, as my family member, you are absolutely into this ride with me. And so you have to make sure that they're on board as your unofficial co founder, you also need to surround yourself with drugless non harmful coping mechanisms, right. Because you will get punched in the gut. And certainly, in trying to raise money, as any founder, you will get told on a daily basis that your baby's ugly, you know, we've received hundreds of, of no’s nearing about 300 no’s, you know, in investment calls over the years. And you know, the first ones sting a lot. And the second ones don't, at all those no’s are data, they're their fertilizer, in that they're kind of stinky, and you, you put them all over you and you wallow in, in the stink for a while. And then ultimately you realize, you know what, what they told me about that, that was important, and that was information that helped me grow. So, you know, in our shop, we celebrate the no’s, like literally we do, like we stand up on the couch, and we say, Hey, we got this, you know, negative feedback from whatever and then everybody claps you know, because it's data, it's a very important data we know will bring us one step closer to a yes

Watch the full podcast: The future of mental health, wellness and performance| Sarah Hill | Healium

Please join our Digital Health Community for more content on innovating in the digital health product space. 

Wishing you Happy Holidays and a great 2023 ahead!

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