Health Enterprises Network (HEN), an affiliate of Greater Louisville Inc. (GLI), explored the collaboration and economic growth possible through local startups and big-to-medium sized companies through an event held at The Olmsted that featured panelists and showcased companies with innovative products that symbolize the future of Louisville’s health care economy.
“Nurturing, supporting and investing in entrepreneurs is an economic development imperative for this city. Entrepreneurs grow the cities they live in. They hire local, they buy local. The money stays in the community. And in turn, that creates an upward spiral of success for the city,” said David Buschman, Managing Director of the Health Enterprises Network. “That’s why Health Enterprises Network (HEN) created the HEN VIP (Very Innovative Pioneer) program, why we continue to put together relevant, educational programs like the ‘Entrepreneurs & Big Co’ event, and why we will continue to work with our industry partners – LEAP, Venture Connectors and the UofL Forcht Center for Entrepreneurship – to drive the culture change needed to grow the region’s health care economy.”
- Angelique Johnson, CEO and Co-Founder MEMStim: “When we first came out of academia, we thought we would put a bunch of bells and whistles on the innovation. But when we actually talked to businesses, they were not interested in bells and whistles. They were interested in the bottom line. They were interested in manufacturing. Our solution was automating. What our customers cared about was a manufacturing process that could give them the price point they wanted. That could actually produce a device to get through the FDA. We had to go back and swallow the innovation pill, where you just want to innovate for innovations sake. There’s a bigger pill when you go out and you commercialize and you realize ‘I might not be making the sexiest thing I thought I was going to make.’ It might not be sexy, but you’re making a profit. You also realize that, ‘I can still innovate on demand.’ We do innovate and we do file patents, but we’re doing it for a specific need that our customers have. That comes from communicating to them. On a serious level. ‘Would you buy this?’ Flying out to them, meeting with their team, not just engineers. Meeting them on site makes the conversations a lot more transparent.”
- Kevin Bramer, CEO of Lucina Health: “At the end of the day, real value is attributed by carefully listening to the customer, being able to clearly understand a very detailed level what their needs are, and being able to develop a technology, a service, a product that really meets that need. That takes very deliberate process of listening carefully. The painfulness of that is managing investors and board members who can get a bit impatient and want to move faster. You have to work with the opportunity and follow their [big company] process. But before you even get to that dance. You have to find a way in some organization, that individual to take a risk as a development partner. That maybe giving away a small percentage of equity in your company in exchange for that insight, that contribution that you need to build that real value, to build that first customer, to build the cache that you need to eventually get in front of [someone like] Praveen. And that is difficult. That is not an easy sell. You gotta have the relationships and the right investors to get that done. I’m an endorser for building value-based companies from the pull, not from the push. How does a company [customer] pull you to them, versus I take an idea out of my head and sell it to them?”
- Patrick Henshaw, CEO of LEAP says the Louisville area should do better to scale investment considering global interest during Derby Season. “The Derby brought a $200 million influx to Louisville for one race. We had $60 million worth of cash investment in local startups last year.”
- Praveen Thadani, SVP, Growth Strategy and Trend at Humana, speaking to startups: “The word risk is really important. Certainly, there is the element of introducing risk into the organization, when you’re partnering a startup. But you also have to realize and contextualize that the reason we are working with a startup is to de-risk our own business. Meaning there is something else going on in our business where we really need to know about your space, the startup space. That’s why we’re interested in you.”
View videos from the HEN VIP (Very Innovative Pioneer) showcase: http://bit.ly/2Wb7VAm.