Over the past few months, I have been asked quite a few times about two things: my thoughts on building a startup in the healthcare industry and how to approach a brand new industry from scratch. Obviously I don’t have a magic recipe however I thought I would share a little bit of my thoughts so far, after 4 years …. Why? because I feel that first, I am at a junction (I’ll elaborate in future posts) but also because
I am going to make this short: only three points.
To get this started, more than ever, I am a big fan of setting clear strategies for success, in particular being absolutely intent on creating the right teams at any level, tying products to services in an efficient and value driven way and most importantly execute, execute, execute! (and be kind, compassionate and have lots of fun too).
Now, here are my few points:
First of all, I think healthcare SaaS will require you to build high-touch services in order to deal with extreme variability in your customer’s operational environments - for example, make sure you build across a large product surface area (if you’re “just an app” you will fail) and transactional depth (scheduling, payments) to immediately show utility, value and ROI and make a really airtight case for your risk-adverse buyers at any level.
Second, about the other end of the funnel — it’s critical that the customer-facing front line is stacked not only with industry insiders who understand the culture of your users and customers, but most importantly, these insiders also must be absolutely fluent in technology and be able to understand and diagnose issues quickly and efficiently to your internal dev and product stakeholders. In other words, if your customer service folks are awesome with doctors but have no idea about the ins-and-outs of your API stack, prepare for a lot of hurt and wasted opportunities. As a result, extend your engineering and product teams to include field application engineers and run away from low quality, cheap call centers.
On the engineering side, hire world class engineers and data scientists who have a deep knowledge of the latest and greatest techs but also have the patience and courage to want to deal with age-old legacy systems that you will have to — without any doubt — integrate with.
And lastly, make sure you’re super specific in defining your target market segment because this will immediately define your sales and service delivery model, pricing strategy and sales team profile. But most importantly, you will have to clearly anticipate extra long sales cycles and heavy buyer education needs … As a result, you must be clear (at least in your mind) to favor and prioritize evangelist customers ahead of revenue: they will help you communicate a strong vision and having excited customers who can see the long term “end game” is super important for your survival.
As a conclusion, I think that healthcare tech is not for the faint of heart … Check your hubris at the door, be humble and work hard. And most importantly, always aim at building products and services that will delight your customers and change their lives!
Let me know what you think! DM me @philippemora
My name's phil mora and I blog about the things I love: fitness, hacking work, tech and anything holistic.
Head of Product and VP Engineering.
thinker, doer, designer, coder, leader