DC to VC

The most remarkable thing about Health 2.0 this time around, at least for me? The growing number, and percentage, of attendees old enough to get a reference like “Hey, Known Spender.”

If that wordplay evokes the trumpet blare of the brass band that accompanied one of the more pernicious and offensive TV ad campaigns of the 1970s (derived from the 1966 musical Sweet Charity), then you would have had more company than usual at last week’s 2.0 conference in San Francisco.

For all you Gen X’ers, Y’ers, and Millennials pitching your ever more nifty wares this time around: those horrific ads featured a slinky woman – made-over from the ‘60s musical’s stripper chorus to a ‘70s “empowered” glamour-gal – crawling all over some dude in a tux and singing “Hey, Big Spender, spend a little time with me.” The ads were unambiguous proof that American culture’s direct equation of cash and sex pre-dated the 1980s.

The “Known Spenders” who spent a little time at Health 2.0 this year were, for the most part, old enough to remember that ad. And they are actually make a living today working in corporate health care jobs. They’re the people they call “The Suits” in Hollywood, and they can actually get your products out of beta and into the real world. The slow steady creep of relevance not just of Health 2.0 as a marker of the market, but of the entire dream of consumer health IT, can be measured by the slow steady influx of the salt-and-pepper folks my own age who work for health insurance companies, employer groups, hospital systems, and drug companies. Six years ago, at the inaugural 2.0, The Suits were nowhere in sight. This year, they were everywhere you looked, kicking tires and taking business cards. Skepticism was abundant among those I talked with, as it should be with industry lifers who have endured two full cycles of health IT hype. (Healtheon and Revolution Health were the market toppers of valuation, grandiosity, and absurdity; if the current boom goes bust, we lifers know exactly who it will be.)

Among the two dozen or so people I’ve known over the years and who have yet to be paroled from health care, the consensus at 2.0 was “these are mostly good products, not companies, there is too much overlap, they have too narrow a scope of functionality, and many need to be rolled up. But a few actually have replacement revenue potential.”

As for the first part of that consensus, nothing new here. Nor anything new about the classic chicken-and-revenue problem that has hampered Health 2.0 start-ups from the start. I’m hardly the first, and surely won’t be the last, to point out the obvious: health care is not lacking for great consumer information products, services, systems, or apps; those products etc. are lacking users, adoption, exposure, traffic, critical mass, revenue. By “revenue” I mean “cash,” from paying customers, not promises, sales pipelines, booked revenue, or even signed contracts with guarantees. And I certainly don’t mean investors’ cash. I’m talking about revenue from consumers, patients, providers, or any of the myriad third parties who are spending money today – just not happily.

Continue reading “Hey, Known Spender!”

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Today we announced the 12 startup finalists for the 2012 DC to VC contest.  DC to VC is a nation-wide contest to find the most promising health IT startups looking for Seed and Series A ($2-5M+) funding. An annual event started by Morgenthaler Ventures over a 3 years ago to help close the gap between what was going on in Washington D.C. (at ONC, CMS and the White House) and aligned interests in the Silicon Valley on health IT investing, the event has now grown into a large health IT startup competition. Morgenthaler Ventures got interested in this space when they invested in Practice Fusion over 3 years ago (they just invested in Doximity – see funding announcement).  I joined as an Executive in Residence (EIR) in January after leaving Google Health and asked Matthew at Health 2.0 to combine forces with us to make the event even bigger–given he was our featured MC last  year and will be again this year, too.

This year the application pool was overwhelming; we received over 140 applications to compete in the contest. Our pre-selection judges worked with us to narrow down the applications to the 13 finalists below who will present to a packed room of venture capitalists, angel investors, government officials and entrepreneurs on the last day of the annual Health 2.0 conference on October 10, 2012 in San Francisco, CA.  Registration is open to all, so grab your seat fast as the room is getting packed! Continue reading “Morgenthaler’s Picks: The Top Twelve Health IT Startups”

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Everyone is always asking me what it is like being an EIR and why I decided to do it after my 5+ years working on Google Health.  First of all, for those of you who are not familiar with the term – an EIR stands for either Entrepreneur in Residence or Executive in Residence.  In the case of Morgenthaler Ventures, they were looking for a person with extensive experience in the Health IT sector at an executive level. This differs from a more traditional EIR title (entrepreneur in residence) where you are asked to incubate a startup from scratch with some support and resources.  As an Executive in Residence, I work hand in hand with the firm’s partners to author the current health IT investing thesis, map out the industry, source companies that match our areas of interest, and help with diligence. The goal of my EIR term is to find a company that Morgenthaler can invest in and then join that company as part of the executive team. I picked Morgenthaler Ventures because of their track record in health IT (invested in Practice Fusion before Health IT was in vogue) and their leadership in the industry with the creation of the first DC to VC conference.

In its 3rd year, DC to VC was initially started by Rebecca Lynn, IT Partner at Morgenthaler Ventures to bring the venture capital community together with Washington D.C. policymakers.  This year, I am proud to say that I am co-directing the DC to VC event and the health IT startup contest along with Matthew Holt and Indu Subaiya from Health 2.0. The contest will take place on the last day of the 2012 Health 2.0 Annual Fall conference in San Francisco on October 10, 2012.  Online applications open today, June 4, 2012 and stay open until August 3, 2012.

Continue reading “A Life in the Day of an EIR: Health IT Ain’t No Bubble for Venture Capital (…. so apply for the DC to VC Health IT startup showcase)”

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