Building A Community of Entrepreneurs
A Conversation with Blueprint Health
The last few years have seen a lot of start-up activity in Healthcare and numerous incubators/ accelerators and co-working spaces have cropped up to foster these entrepreneurial initiatives. We spoke with David Friedman, Director of Community at Blueprint Health, one of the most popular healthcare start-up accelerators in New York.
PULSE: What steps do you take to sustain collaboration between past classes of start-ups?
DAVID FRIEDMAN: As a community, we continuously strive to cultivate an awareness and appreciation for one another - the varied ventures, personalities and interests that are a part of Blueprint Health family. But what is termed “collaboration” is rarely ever just one thing. The needs and priorities are ever-evolving for a startup, and it is only by having a very hands-on approach that you can better facilitate the growth of these ventures. You will find the cohorts from prior classes involved intimately with our newest class members, providing them with guidance and the insights. And all our members, past and present, of our workspace form very close personal bonds that continue professionally and personally.
The nature of startups, and more specifically entrepreneurs is to wake each morning facing what others perceive as insurmountable challenges, and not go to bed until those have been conquered. The camaraderie that evolves is unsurpassed, and the reliance we place on one another to succeed grows organically.
PULSE: What strategies have been successful in attracting investors for early stage concepts?
DAVID FRIEDMAN: Ultimately, for any startup it boils down to two goals, and these are not mutually exclusive - customers and capital. Any startup that has customers, and let’s be clear that is paying customers, is more likely to attract investment. In healthcare, those customers can be formidable. These are large complex organizations that can be difficult, if not impossible for a startup to navigate on their very own. If a venture can attract customers, it certainly shows there is a market for their product and provides investors with a certain validation of the business. At the same time, it can obviously be quite difficult to get that first customer without the early-stage capital in a market where the sales cycle can be prolonged. There are enough articles that talk to best practices in attracting investors for early-stage startups. Investors are looking to mitigate risks, and the backing of Blueprint Health lends credibility and value to help a startup attract customers and capital that build a long-term viable business.
PULSE: What are some of the most common mistakes that lead start-ups to fail in this space?
DAVID FRIEDMAN: After 20+ years working with innovators and startups, I have come to realize there is no recipe for success. There are plenty of articles and advice on what mistakes to avoid, but still even if you avoid them all, there are so many variables that come to play in what we call “success” and even that is not easily defined. I don’t like to call anything a success or failure, these are people that are putting their sweat blood and tears into their ventures and the fact that they come in to tackle each day with the vigor and passion we see on their faces is itself the greatest testimony to their amazing character. That is what I personally respect above all.
PULSE: What do you believe are the white space opportunities for entrepreneurial initiatives in Health IT?
DAVID FRIEDMAN: There is one area, one market I see almost completely neglected and that is the aged. While much of that may simply due to my advanced age, having to face the inevitability of joining this group shortly and not wanting to feel disadvantaged, I do believe that the entrepreneurs of today are missing out on enormous reward with this particular demographic. Being the fastest growing market, the most affluent and increasingly more technologically adept than they are often credited with makes them very, very attractive. And remember, the “health” issues that emerge as we age become increasingly more profound and costly. The problem is that when you are a 28-year-old entrepreneurs, you don’t think of Grandma and Grandpa as a relatable customer. I would love to see us running hackathons led by 50+-year-olds exclusively this coming year.
PULSE: The theme for our conference is The Innovation Game: The Race between Entrants and Incumbents. As one of the earliest startup incubators in New York, what are your thoughts about how new entrants are innovating this space?
DAVID FRIEDMAN: I would say that as time passes and more and more startups are entering the healthcare market, it becomes increasingly more difficult to gain the ear of the entrenched incumbents. There is a lot of noise, and time will show those ventures that are formidable enough to survive and thrive.
Director of Community at Blueprint
Founder of The Farm
David Friedman is currently Director of Community at Blueprint Health and Founder of The Farm, where he is involved with accelerating the growth of digital health startups in New York City. With over 25 years’ experience delivering innovations with startups and large multi-national organizations alike, he joined Blueprint Health where he turned his focus on creating a more engaged community throughout the healthcare arena.