Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Healthcare trends: next couple of years

I believe most of this is already happening and will accelerate further given how rapidly the healthcare ecosystem is changing. These are just few of the entrepreneurial opportunities within healthcare.
  1. More connected devices in the hospital and home will provide the data for patient analytics – access to data will be streamlined. 
  2. Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) results will prove the value in coordinate care of patients.
  3. Policy discussions will shift towards ideal regulatory oversight of mobile medical apps and stand-alone software. 
  4. Medical device manufacturers and providers will embrace monitoring devices (including wearables and sensors) to care for the patient. 
  5. Telehealth or telemedicine will gain more traction in 2014. 
  6. Mobile apps with simple UI/UX to manage patient health data will proliferate and doctors will prescribe these apps to get patients engaged. 
  7. Healthcare exchanges problems will get resolved bringing more patients into the healthcare system. Also interoperability standards and emerging frameworks will increase connectivity between networks.
  8. Digital health technologies – more wearable and sensor based devices for wellness, EHR adoption and tech-enabled tools for management of elderly + chronic care.
  9. The field of big knowledge will emerge where decision making and insights will have more importance than data analytics. 
  10. Alternative sources of funding startups will increase – govt. grants, crowdfunding, incubators, non-traditional partnerships.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Entrepreneurs = Rock Stars

Everyone is an entrepreneur in his own right. Let me explain.

Pharmaceutical sales reps are a great example. They pursue relentlessly into selling the drugs. The company gives them the freedom to determine the process and shows them a general direction based on prior best practices gathered from the field. The self belief and target sales goal are the drivers for achieving success. The elevator pitch has to be mastered and delivered to the audience at every opportunity available. You tailor the value proposition based on the relevant decision maker. For example, if you are selling a drug in the hospital marketplace your pitch changes based on whether you are talking to a pharmacist or a specialist.

Schools are another example where the entrepreneurial ecosystem prospers. The professors’ act as mentors/VCs/Angel Investors, the school acts as an incubator and we have the ever-popular entrepreneurial student. Students continue to take advantage of the available resources, pivot based on the interests and achieve results. I think PhD students are phenomenal since once they graduate they join the workforce, continue giving back and move the field ahead.

LinkedIn CEO wrote the book, "The StartUp of You" where he talked about navigating your career as an entrepreneur.

During my MBA at Babson College, a lot of the focus was on understanding the entrepreneurial thought and action method. The conversations very quickly moved from starting a new venture to the intrapreneur in the corporation. Such discussions and learning forced us to take the small steps, measure the outcomes, re-calibrate and proceed. In fact, all my colleagues are doing great in their respective fields and I believe one of the underlying reasons is that the entrepreneurial mindset helps you to be action oriented and teaches you to deal with ambiguity in the workplace. Why not? What if? Maybe? All such type of questions eventually lead to something successful only if you act on the curiosity. And it's not where you start, it's where you finish.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

TEDxBoston wisdom

Revolutionary ideas and remarkable people indeed. I think that is the common thread for most TEDx conferences. Instead of capturing the highlights, I am listing some of my favorite quotes from the speakers at TEDxBoston 2013 with a link to their work.
  • Farah Pandith: How can teens be empowered to reject extremism?
    - The best way to disrupt the ideology of extremists is to provide a counter narrative...Let's unleash the power of this youthquake. I believe in them. Do you? 

  • Nikita Bier: How can visualizing information change the way we vote?
    - What unites Americans is their shared ignorance over public policy. We consistently vote against our financial self interest. 
  • outline.com

  • Matthew DuPlessie: How can transposing your surroundings change the way you perceive the world?
    - There is a false dichotomy between educational and entertaining experiences. We can do things in real time and in real space that you can't do on a screen. There is a real world outside our glowing rectangles. 

  • Geraldine Hamilton: How can tissue engineering transform the way drugs are designed?
    - Academics are great at innovating but fail at translating into the real world. 
  • wyss.harvard.edu

  • Josh Trautwein and Dan Clarke: How can making fresh produce accessible and affordable change our outlook on health?
    - There is a direct correlation between food access and health disparity. 
  • thefreshtruck.org

  • Helen Greiner: How can robots help save lives?
    - In the future flying robots could bring you that cool refreshing water while you are climbing a mountain. 

  • Peter Dilworth: How can taking your pen off the paper let you to draw things exactly as you imagine?
    - Even though it may seem small, take pride in everything you do. You never know what the universe will pick to represent you!
  • the3doodler.com

  • Xiao Xiao: How can infusing technology into music change the way we play?
    - Music is about the interplay between abstract ideas, performance and the inner worlds of the player + the audience. 

  • Paul Sellew: How can trash fuel our world?
    - Germany recycles 75% of their organic waste, in the US we send 95% of ours to the landfill...Cows fart out the biogas and we capture it.  
  • harvestpower.com

  • Brian Healy: How can homes embrace the new reality of coastal living?
    - 37% of Boston expected to be flooded in 100 years. 

  • Vanessa Kerry: How can training new doctors and nurses in resource-limited countries cure more than people?
    - In a dorkier, medical version of online dating, we match doctor volunteers to countries in need of education. 
  • seedglobalhealth.org

  • Sam White: How can off-grid refrigeration change the economics of rural villages?
    - It's easy to dream big. What's hard is when the physics of the real world kick in! 
  • coolectrica.com

  • Steve Ramirez and Xu Liu: How can light shape our minds?
    - We see a world where we can erase memories or edit any memories we like. 

  • Eliot Fisk: How can classical music deviate from the expected?
    - Music is the great common language of our species. 

  • Sam Aquillano: What can we learn about design by encountering exhibits in unexpected places?
    - Design is everywhere. Everything around you is designed in one way or another. 
  • designmuseumboston.org

  • Nataly Kogan: How can we be happier?
    - Stop saying I'll be happy when ___, start saying I'm happier now because___. Life is made of moments. Choose to create and collect the happy ones.
  • happier.com

Monday, April 22, 2013

Startup Revenue Models

How do early stage companies make money? Even if you have a disruptive technology somebody needs to pay for the product/services or you might have to find other ways to make money. For example, online technology companies that don't sell a product directly to the consumers cannot only depend on ad revenues. The reason is simple - at an early stage the SEO mechanics + traffic volumes do not work in your favor or rather do not give you enough traction to monetize. Many companies build the platform first and then figure how to make money (Facebook). All conventional revenue models have two basic tenets:
  1. You need customers. 
  2. Somebody needs to pay for your product/services. 
Basically, you need to earn more than the cost of acquiring your customer. One needs to find ways to monetize the value your product brings to the customers. Besides the central question of who pays?, you need to think about value proposition, customer need, product/market fit and the scalability nature of the opportunity. I looked at a few successful companies who are doing it differently. Most of the below information is from public sources like Twitter, Quora, company websites.

LevelUp - mobile payments
LevelUp provides the hardware to run the payments free of charge and have 0% processing fees for payment processing (upside for clients/businesses). LevelUp calls this Interchange Zero. Generally, credit card companies charge merchants between 1-3% fees.  LevelUp makes money by charging for customer acquisition campaigns or for rewards to existing customers. Running a campaign costs $0.40 for $1 of credit redeemed by a customer.

PatientsLikeMe - health sharing website for patients
They sell/share all patient data to companies (primarily pharma) other than identifiable information. They explain on the website how they make money? Essentially, it is projects involving market research and health economics and outcomes research since PatientsLikeMe has the platform + ability to record data and outcomes from patients for particular diseases/drugs/treatments in real world settings.

Kinvey - backend as a service
Kinvey charges users per API request. Clients pay for the app backend services when they get active users, actual usage, or data for the app.

Backupify - backup and recovery for online apps
Pricing segmentation where the levels are based number of users, number of domains, per month etc. The free tools aren't that useful.

Runkeeper - running app
The fitness training app operates on a freemium model with the Elite version allowing live broadcasting and advanced reporting. The company is moving towards a consumer health platform with the Health Graph API to bring multiple health apps, medical devices and sensors under one roof. This could trigger a lot of opportunities on the data analytics side to provide value to consumers.

Wayfair - diversified e-commerce
It operates like any other e-commerce company. From a content/ ad perspective, the company tries to personalize the experience for the brand while optimizing the traffic to conversion rate. They have a dedicated social media team which works with advertising. Also since the company was bootstrapped for the most part initially, the pressure to take risks and decisions was different.

Nanigans - facebook performance advertising
They license the Ad Engine on a self-service basis or the company manages your campaigns. The tiered pricing is based on the volume of Facebook ad spend ($30K/month minimum). The website says that the company provides access to all the data at audience, creative and campaign levels.

The revenue part is one of the most important elements of the business model. For emerging companies, a good and differentiated customer value proposition improves the likelihood of success and the clarity in the business model needs to be defined. As Bob Higgins (Highland Capital Partners) said: "I think historically where we [venture capitalists] fail is when we back technology. Where we succeed is when we back new business models."

Monday, February 25, 2013

Innovation in Therapeutics: Drugs of the Future

At the recently concluded MIT Sloan BioInnovations 2013 conference, one of the panels identified the top innovations in the past five years in life sciences and predicted the innovations within the next five years. The panel discussed the challenges for the future of drugs and how the advances in genetic modification, nanotechnology and biochemistry will shape the scientific breakthroughs.

Navjot Singh, Ph.D., Partner, McKinsey & Company
Tim Harris, Ph.D., Senior Vice President of Translational Medicine and Biochemistry, Biogen Idec
Anne De Groot, M.D., CEO, Professor & Director, Epivax
Prof. Ehud Gazit, Ph.D., Chief Scientist, Science and Technology Ministry, Israel
Eric Perakslis, Ph.D., Chief Information Officer and Chief Scientist (Informatics), U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Here is the list of innovations that the panelists identified.

Past five years:
  1. Xalkori (Crizotinib) for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer by Pfizer
  2. Adeno associated virus for gene transfer therapies
  3. Small interfering RNA for modulation of gene expression
  4. Vaccine delivery patch based on microneedles
  5. Democratization of data - genesis for big data
  6. Selzentry (maraviroc) for HIV treatment by Pfizer
  7. Weight loss drugs
  8. Therapeutic vaccines
  9. Drugs for treating cystic fibrosis
  10. Tysabri for the treatment of multiple sclerosis by Biogen Idec
  11. Use of bioinformatics and cheminformatics for drug discovery and development

Next five years:
  1. Drugs that lead to increased life expectancy
  2. Gene therapy to get proteins inside the body
  3. Fully controlled formation of amyloid assembly
  4. In-depth understanding of cardiovascular diseases
  5. Genetic markers
  6. Drugs to treat psychiatric and neurological disorders
  7. Using induced pluripotent stem cells for testing treatments / drugs
  8. Antibody and small-molecule therapies for cancer treatment