StartUp Health Joins Startup America Partnership: Q&A with Steven Krein, CEO, OrganizedWisdom.com
Steven Krein is currently at the HHS's Health Data Initiative Forum announcing the launch of StartUp Health, a new strategic initiative from OrganizedWisdom designed to improve access to capital, education and resources for health and wellness entrepreneurs. Here's what he had to say:
What inspired you to launch Startup Health and what is it?
Steve: StartUp Health is an initiative that we started to focus on inspiring, educating, and providing resources for entrepreneurs who want to build health and wellness companies. We were inspired to start this initiative because, as entrepreneurs in the health and wellness space, we realized that one of the biggest barriers to creating successful health and wellness companies is the development of a robust ecosystem that has well defined investors, organizations, and people that are committed to nurturing that ecosystem. We found it kind of odd that with all the innovation and development going on in many other sectors, there wasn’t enough of it going on in the health and wellness space, and we wanted to change that. We began to discuss this with one of our investors and Board members, Jerry Levin, the former Chairman and CEO of Time Warner, and he not only was very encouraging about us undertaking this initiative, but he rolled up is sleeves to help. Not only has he agreed to Chair the initiative, but he’s also been incredibly helpful at connecting the dots to his friends and former colleagues.
I understand there are a couple of different aspects to the program: there are StartUp Health Roundtables and there is a StartUp Health Pledge. Can you tell us a little about those?
Steve: In order to really have a discussion and make this a bottom-up initiative rather than a top-down initiative, we decided to conduct a series of roundtables. We were inspired by what the Startup America Partnership has been doing over the last six months to initiate a conversation with communities around the country. So we figured let’s actually work with Startup America and have this conversation, but direct it at what’s going on in the health and wellness space. And so they were generous enough to agree to cohost the first roundtable with us that will take place on July 13. We’re incredibly excited that we’re going to bring together all the stakeholders: investors, entrepreneurs, mentors, and organizations.
The other thing we recognized was that we need to get an inventory of who’s in the space–who is committed to fostering and encouraging entrepreneurship around health and wellness. It might be entrepreneurs who have ideas about how we can elevate the standard of care in America. It could be investors who are passionate about making sure they can put capital to work in this space to make a difference. It could be organizations, whether corporations that have resources to offer, or government agencies that want to make data available. We recognize that in order to bring all these people together, we have to get them to identify themselves. So we developed the StartUp Health pledge, and it’s a very simple pledge. It just says that you are committed to helping this startup health and wellness ecosystem. We’re asking people to actually go to startuphealth.com and take the pledge, and we are developing a database that we intend on making available to everyone so you can see what investors, entrepreneurs, and companies are committed to this ecosystem.
How do you envision StartUp Health developing?
Steve:We think that a very clear long-term roadmap needs to be developed so that any entrepreneur who wants to build a business that relates to health and wellness will have access to whatever they need. This roadmap will include not only what they should do for each phase of their business, but also the resources to access everything they need - the long-term mentorship, tools and resources, capital, community and the talents of others. This can help whether you’re just starting up and using the resources of an accelerator, or you’re already up and running a scalable business and need partners such as a hospital or a large university.
Please explain why you feel that the time is right for innovation in health technology.
Steve: We are experiencing a unique moment where multiple trends are converging that finally make rapid innovation possible in health and wellness. Over the past 50 years, innovation in health required an extended period of time and an incredible amount of capital - as well as access to top researchers and scientists. Today, however, recent advances in mobile software development combined with access to vast amounts of freely available public health data have converged to provide entrepreneurs with unprecedented access to powerful ingredients needed to foster large scale innovation in health and wellness. In fact, there has never been a better time to be a health and wellness entrepreneur. StartUp Health will help entrepreneurs take these ingredients and provide them with a long-term roadmap for success, including access to the education, mentorship, capital and critical resources they need to build long-term sustainable health and wellness businesses.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Steve: As a health and wellness entrepreneur myself, one of the things I’m fascinated by is that everybody has a personal story about why they’re driven to do something meaningful in this space. For for me it was a close friend and mentor being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, for Jerry Levin it was his diagnosis with Parkinson’s disease. Every person that has shown up in this space has been affected by health and wellness, either personally or through a loved one. The interesting thing is that while everyone is touched by health in some way, not everybody makes the decision to turn their talents and energies towards meaningful innovation in this space. What we really think is critical at this point in time is this idea of threading together all of these like-minded people, so that together we can work to make a difference in health and wellness and improve the standard of care in America.