Entrepreneurship@Cornell Celebration 2013
HealthTech entrepreneurs base startups on direct experience and interests, and build expertise from there.
HealthTech entrepreneurs base startups on direct experience and interests, and build expertise from there
Panelists shared their experiences as entrepreneurs and discussed how health care startups have revolutionized the health care industry in recent years during their April 19 discussion, “HealthTech Startups: How Reinventing Health care Will Change Lives.” Sponsored by Johnson’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Institute and held at Sage Hall, the event was part of Entrepreneurship@Cornell Celebration 2013.
Jenna Rose ’05, who leads accelerator operations throughout the U.S for Healthbox, served as moderator for panelists Tim Fu ’05, MEng ’05, CEO of Home Team Therapy, and Stephen Bloch, a general partner on the health care team at global venture capital firm Canaan Partners in New York. They began their discussion with personal stories about how each of them got involved in health care technology.
Bloch, a radiologist by training, left medicine in 1994 to become an entrepreneur. He founded and for six years served as CEO of Radiology Management Sciences, a pioneer in managing radiology benefits for health plans that he said ultimately did not succeed, noting that his timing and execution were just not right. Next he helped start OmniSonics Medical Technologies, which engineered novel ultrasonic catheters for treating vascular occlusive disease, and later he co-founded TeleRad, an early teleradiology services company.
Fu, an engineer by profession, knew he wanted to become an entrepreneur when he enrolled in graduate studies at MIT's Sloan School of Management. A turning point in his life came when he tore his ACL and went through reconstructive knee surgery. “Anyone who has gone through physical therapy knows how grueling and expensive the process can be,” he said, both in terms of direct costs and lost wages. Inspired, he began to search for alternative ways to recover. Fu approached a doctor and a physical therapist he’d met during his own recovery, and with them started up Home Team Therapy, an approach to managing pain from home through videogames and exercises.
Rose, who earned her BA in biology and society at Cornell, went on to earn her master’s of health science in global disease epidemiology and control from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. Her work in health care research, operations, and policy in several developing countries gave her the opportunity to see health care systems from fresh perspectives and spurred her interest in international health, operational issues, and resource allocation. She decided she wanted to pursue health care and entrepreneurship, and found her opportunity to do so at Sandbox Industries, where she had first worked after earning her BA, and where she returned to become director of Healthbox. There, she has learned about health care from corporate and entrepreneurs’ perspectives.
All the panelists recommended a targeted, strategic approach to starting a business, encouraging students to spend the time and energy required to become an expert if they want to be entrepreneurs, noting “you can never be too specific or too knowledgeable.” For example, if you are targeting a challenge radiologists face, talk to as many radiologists as possible – but also “talk to patients, families of patients, and insurance companies,” Bloch advised. “It’s important to find who the customer is in the short term and the long term.”