The MedStartr Model

Overview

MedStartr serves a global community of healthcare innovators that want to improve how healthcare works for everyone.  To do this we run events, contests, open innovation sourcing and success programs, websites, and investment funds.  We started as a labor of love in 2008, creating and growing a community of people like ourselves.  In 2012 we launched MedStartr.com, the first medical innovation crowdfunding site.  In 2013 we began running Crowd Challenges for governments, corporations and associations moving from just crowdfunding to crowd sourcing, validation and selection.  Then in 2017, we launched our first true accelerator class and investment fund.  We are a unique grassroots organization of inventors, early adopters, hospital leaders, clinicians, patient activists, healthcare executives, dreamers, designers, investors and more.  We believe it is who we are as a community and how much we listen to our 85,000+ engaged community members that enables us to help individuals, startups, organizations, institutions, municipalities and investors as much as we have over the last twelve years.  We look forward to helping 1,000 more startups succeed faster in the next 12 years and facilitating the evolution of medical care to improve quality, reduce cost, and improve access for all.

Why Venture Capital

We didn’t start out as a VC, but we noticed that healthcare investing just didn’t work very well for most investors and healthcare-focused funds.  As 10x startup founders and advisors to hundreds more, we also had seen everything go wrong from a startup’s perspective but until we started looking at the problem from the investor’s point of view, we didn’t understand why bad things kept happening to startups.  The real issue is that healthcare VC just isn’t very successful at finding and funding the best ideas.  As a result, returns are not great and then they often do bad things in the name of improving their potential revenue.  We think this is because the typical VC model relies upon a small group of mostly male, mostly young, mostly inexperienced people to decide on what to invest.  Corporate and Institutional investors generally do better as they utilize in-house expert resources to vet ides, but even this has its limitations as every organization is susceptible to echo chambers, blind spots and biases.  Fact is that, on average, VC in healthcare performs worse than a S&P 500 index fund.  So, like all innovators that want to tackle the biggest problems for the largest impact, we sought to fix it.  First, we considered how selecting and assisting companies could be done with the help of our vast, inclusive crowds.  As scientists and math geeks, we next did some math…

Better Investing with Better Data

So we ran an analysis of the 2,746 teams that did or didn’t win our contests or went on our crowdfunding platform in 2015 we were amazed to see how well we winning our contests and/ or being crowd-validated was predicting companies that would have made great investments, especially with the deep data we had on crowd engagement with the startups.  The model predicted that we would do 10-20 times better than your average VC fund in healthcare, producing returns of over 187% per year.  Our Ecosystem of healthcare stakeholders was picking winners better than the pros.  So we took a year and studied the VC industry, adopted best practices, made up a few new ones of our own, and opened our first fund in 2017, at first just with only one investor, Alex Fair.  With a track record even better than predicted in the first 18 months, we then opened Fund II in 2019 and added almost a score of other investors.  Our track record is getting better all the time with our first major exits in the pipe and one small spin-off done in Q2 2020. Fund III will open this Summer and we keep doing what got us here, just scaling up for bigger investments in more companies.

What about all that other stuff?

We still do everything else we started with (Events, websites, community newsletters, contests, social media campaigns,…)  but the Fund now funds more and more of those activities, helping us do more for our community and startups all the time.  We don’t usually charge much for attendance at our events,  we never charge startups to pitch or use our platforms, and even our corporate and institutional clients and partners pay less all the time.  Why?  Because the Fund model works quite well.  This allows us to be aligned with all the stakeholders and always to do the right thing by our teams, investors, clients, and partners.

The Nitty Gritty (or some of it at least)we can 

So how does it work?  The secret sauce is simply that MedStartr brings together all the stakeholders in healthcare online and off to drive the growth of innovative healthcare companies.  Our events, pitch contests, partners, open innovation programs, mentors, accelerator, investment funds, strategic planning and pretty much everything we do is all about helping medicine get better through innovation.  This is what we started doing out of a passion for innovation and love for helping startup founders get where they need to go faster.  We do this all day, every day and wouldn’t have it any other way.  Being able to invest allows us to not only help the teams more but also gives us a business model that is aligned with the startups.  We are happy to report it works great and we have had the great fortune to have been able to help thousands of people and their ideas be successful already.  Bulleted below are a few of the elements of the MedStartr Model that make the magic happen, but the fuel for this is healthcare startup love, not money.  On the other hand, as we always say, “No Money, No Mission” so we really work hard to teach commercialization and are glad to have found a model that is so well-aligned with our mission and will help fuel a thousand more startups improve medicine for all.

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    • Focus on Healthcare. This means that we know this industry inside and out understand it deeply.  Our Board, Leadership Team, Mentor Network and Community is comprised of Patients, Nurses, Physicians, Researchers, Hospital Administrators, Big Pharma, Medical Device Engineers, Agency folks, Managed Care Execs, Government Policy Wonks, Healthcare Data Jockeys – all focused on Healthcare Innovation.
    • Acceleration & Tools. We know our startup Founders usually went to Med School and Grad school, not B School or Design School, so we lend a hand running acceleration programs and offering a ton of advice.  Often this starts with the crowdfunding application which includes pointers, examples, and serves to package an innovator’s ideas for maximal engagement and exposure.  Next during a crowdfunding campaign teams are emailed our MedMoTips and get access to special sections and features of the websites that help companies gain momentum, manage their campaigns, engage their crowds, and control the release of their confidential information.  Once we invest in a company we take this further with a three-year acceleration program.  We know most healthcare startups are too important to fail so we do what we can by using automated and often high touch assistance. Learn more about our accelerator here.
    • Crowds that Care. Our audience is the crowd that cares – doctors, patients, partners, and institutional leaders that care deeply about fixing our healthcare system and systems around the world. We also are a network for spreading ideas to and within patient communities. Unlike most sites that support projects to make art, or a movie, this stuff really matters to people, often literally a matter of life and death.
    • Events. Our MedStartr Momentum and Partner Conference events bring the crowd to find and fund the best new ideas in healthcare, letting people meet the MedStartrs. We also show these events live on MedStartr.tv to maximize how far and wide our innovations can be seen. Want to drive healthcare innovation in your city, call us or fill out this form and we will bring the Healthcare Revolution to you.
    • Mentors. MedStartr engages every project with our Mentor Network consisting of the all stars of healthcare innovation. Whether you need to connect to a Healthcare data structures guru or the designer that brought the handheld EKG to life or the CEO of a fortune 100 healthcare company, very often we can help connect you to exactly the person you need to meet to go to the next level – and they will get involved with your project if they are so inspired.  Join the community, Apply to become one, and / or Meet a few of them here
    • Partners. The MedStartr platform and our programs and events connect innovations to partners that care for them.  During an event or crowdfunding campaign very often once the wave begins to build with patient and provider support, partners will step up and start the conversation. For our Open Innovation program clients as well as our Accelerator and Portfolio companies we also take this process to a deeper level, matching teams across the world for exactly what they are looking, helping both sides of the table.
    • Press Promotion. We have great relationships with many media outlets and will share our stories with TechCrucch, NYTimes, Forbes, HuffPo, MedGadget, MedCity News, and more. Driving awareness for your company is one of the most valuable aspects of winning a MedMo contest, Crowd challenge or just running a great MedStartr crowdfunding campaign and a key benefit of MedStartr programs.
    • Social Media Teaming. Social Media is a team sport, especially in healthcare. The MedStartr social media team is like a megaphone for your voice, spreading your message where it matters most. From facebook to linkedin to TikTok and just the right tweetchat to have you guest host, we know what you should do and who to talk to in order to engineer massive exposure for our clients, contests, and startups.
    • Partner Innovation Services. We help cities, organizations, institutions and companies connect and communicate with the healthcare innovation community through events, introductions, targeted campaigns, and challenges. This helps both the Partner and the startup find just the right partner and works great. To learn more please visit the Open Innovation Programs section of this site or fill out this online form and we will call you.
    • Crowd Challenges. Our Crowd Challenges are a great way to  crowdsource innovation in a massively viral format that allows we and our challenge co-sponsors to crowd test before they invest.  This is like running a massive focus group with a stadium-full of healthcare folks that provides tons of data – over 126 metrics – about which innovations are most likely to succeed.  Open Innovation programs have been shown to cut the cost of developing new products by over 1,000x. Call to learn more about how our CrowdChallenges work or learn more here first.
    • Investing. Since 2017 MedStartr has been investing in the companies that win our crowd challenges and MedMo Pitch contests.  Armed with more data than anyone else on thousands of startups every year, MedStartr is uniquely positioned to select the companies most likely to succeed.  Our MedStartr Ventures Algorithm has become quite good at predicting success.  Like all machine learning, more data makes for more accuracy and with companies like CareSet, Medable, Misfit Wearables, CityMD and hundreds more successful startups worth billions having co, we aren’t guessing nearly as much as most funds.*   It works great and is a fantastic way to drive growth of the most promising ideas in medicine too.  To learn more and invest with us, please visit MedStartr.vc.  (*Note: past performance is not a predictor of future results.  All investing bears risk.  Please check with your investment professional before investing.  This is not a solicitation to buy or sell securities.  Accredited investors only.)
    • Acceleration. We have been doing all we can to accelerate startups in healthcare since 2009 but in 2017 we formalized the program for our portfolio companies creating a three year program that kicks off with a week long hyper-accelerator program, usually in our headquarters in NYC.  This program brings in amazing mentors like Oliver Khazar, MD, Mike Laskoff and Rich Park, MD, founders of ZocDoc, Abilto and CityMD respectively as well as experts in marketing, sales growth hacking, fundraising, strategy and more.  The week culminates with two events where teams pitch in front of audiences of stakeholders and investors and continues with monthly strategy sessions, CEO lunches, frequent promotion, endless introductions, slots on the world tour stages and much more.  Click here or call to learn more.
    • MVP Startup Strategy. Among the MedStartr Mentors and MedStartr Venture Partners, we have seen startups go through every bad or good thing imaginable, many times from our own companies but more often these days among our community and portfolio companies.  A key part of the MedStartr Model is connecting startups to great advisors that can help navigate the challenges of having great or terrible things happen to startups.

Thanks to our unique model we have been able to help thousands of new ideas move forward faster and driven the growth of healthcare innovation around the world.  While this is a great start, we know it is just the beginning.  Stay tuned and join the global community and see how you can help or be helped by the MedStartr Model!