An Interview with Blueprint Health

Blueprint Health is a specialist health IT incubator that just opened its doors this week and selected its first group of startups who get $20K each and a chance to hang in a nice art gallery in Soho that’s opening officially Thursday (FD Health 2.0′s NY city team will be moving in too). You can read more at Techcrunch and see the HUGE list of mentors here (I was thinking of throwing my hat in the ring until they told me it involved work!). But I wanted to ask Brad Weinberg & Mat Farkash, the founders, what was so special about Blueprint, so Mat told me:

Matthew H: Describe the Blueprint program

Mat Farkash: Blueprint Health is a New York based health-focused accelerator that is a Charter member of the TechStars Network.  Blueprint Health kicked off its three-monthWinter program on January 9 in its 12,000 square foot office in SoHo and will also host a summer program in 2012.  The program is a heavily mentorship focused, providing teams with access to over 120 mentors, all of whom have experience in the healthcare industry, including many physicians and health providers.

The program’s mentor community include founders and/or executives from Aetna, Allscripts, Amicas, Cerner, CVS, Eliza, Everyday Health, Johns Hopkins, Generation Health, Healthination, HelloHealth, Johnson & Johnson, Keas, Kryuus, Livestrong, McKinsey Hospital Institute, MedCommons, Medivo, Montefiore Hospital, New York Presbyterian Hospital, PatientsLikeMe, Premera, Pfizer, Phreesia, ShapeUp, Take Care Health Systems, Teladoc, Verizon, and WebMD.  The mentor community also includes investment professionals from Aberdare Ventures, ATV, Bessemer Venture Partners, Edison Ventures, FirstMark Capital, Google Ventures, Highland Capital Partners, HLM Venture Partners, Milestone Venture Partners, Physic Ventures, Psilos, Radius Ventures, Union Square Ventures, and Windham Venture Partners. The program’s sponsors include California Health Care Foundation, Ernst & Young, Goodwin Proctor, and Rackspace.

Matthew HSince 2007 we’ve had nearly 1,000 companies apply to show at Health 2.0 in every conceivable category of health IT, yet many would argue that health care isn’t receptive to their products & services.  Do we really need more start-ups?

Mat Farkash: The genesis of Blueprint Health came from discussions we had with founders that had participated in other accelerators, experienced the difficulties you described and wanted mentorship from people with expertise in the healthcare industry.  It is incredibly important that entrepreneurs understand the healthcare industry and its workflows and payment models if they want to create a sustainable businesses.  Unlike many other industries, the payer in the health industry is most often a business (a hospital, health insurance company, pharmacy, doctor).  Therefore, most companies in the health industry not only need to understand what end-users want, but also understand the needs and nuances of large organizations.  Blueprint Health provides access to over 120 mentors with this expertise so that teams come out of our program understanding the industry players and what types of innovations not only will improve patient engagement and outcomes, but also will get adopted and have a sustainable business model.

Matthew HOK, not sure you told me why we need more startups but appreciate the focus on the business model. However, there’s already two other well publicized health care IT startup incubators (RockHealth/Healthbox) up and running, plus at least one under the radar (RemedyVentures), plus the more amorphous StartUpHealth (based like you in New York City). What’s different about Blueprint?

Mat Farkash: New York is the best city in the world to start a healthcare company in right now.  It has a great ecosystem of thriving healthcare companies from ZocDoc to WebMD, incredible hospitals including New York Presbyterian and Montefiore, the most doctors of any city in the U.S., and an entrepreneurially supportive government lead by mayor Bloomberg.  Blueprint Health has the largest network of mentors with expertise in the healthcare industry and the only accelerator in the TechStars network that is focused on the healthcare industry.  It is also the only health centric accelerator with a founder that is a physician and a founder that has started a successful company in the healthcare space that works with companies like Aetna, United Health Group, Hewlett Packard, and General Electric.  All three accelerators where founded around the same time (Blueprint Health was started in mid-2010).  Blueprint Health has purposely spent the last year building a world-class network of mentors so that teams have an incredible of bench of talent they can lean on.  We are very supportive of what Healthbox and RockHealth are doing and have expressed a desire to collaborate with them (a rising tide…)