Ginger.io: Why entrepreneurs should be patient and get creative with partnerships
Described as a “check engine light” for health, the Ginger.io platform culls smartphone data, such as movement patterns and screen time, to develop health insights. After the co-founders met in 2010, the team participated in the TechStars accelerator in Boston.
Co-founder Karan Singh offered his insights on partnerships, advice, and building momentum after a few years in the field.
Be patient, and get creative, with partnerships – The team at Ginger.io learned early to balance the quick pace of a startup with many partners’ slower processes, Singh said. When a new company is ready for its first customer, he said, the goal is to establish value quickly and replicate that experience with others. But many potential partners, namely medical centers, have slower processes due to infrastructure systems complete with legal departments and technology audits. When working with such partners, startups should exercise patience, Singh said, but also think in smaller, bite-sized chunks that might not require approval from the most senior person at the institution. “It’s a fine balance,” he said.
Find the right fit with partners – How do you know if potential partners are the right fit? They want you to solve the problems you can solve, Singh said. Not only that, he added, but their motivations must line up with your own. “You have to find those people who are self-motivated,” Singh said. “There’s got to be something in it for them at the end of the day.” It’s important to get an understanding of what motivates your potential partner, he said, and what a good outcome looks like for them.
Use data to evaluate advice – Many well-meaning people will offer advice to entrepreneurs, Singh said. “It’s your responsibility to process and collate everyone’s advice,” he said. “You can’t listen to everyone. There are going to be conflicting opinions.” The team at Ginger.io uses the following process to determine if a particular piece of advice is right for their company: They listen to the advice, talk to others, gather data (sometimes even running experiments), and finally make a decision. But it’s critical not to get too tied up in the process, Singh said. “Make a decision,” he said, “and move on.”
Consider an innovation challenge – Winning innovation challenges proved to be unexpected momentum builders for Ginger.io, Singh said. The company won the Data Design Diabetes challenge in 2011 and the Alzheimer's Challenge in 2012. The prize money was helpful, he said, but almost as important was the chance to tell their company’s story and the opportunities for networking and recruitment. “It was really powerful for us,” he said.
Photo: Karan Singh