Why client needs should dictate your business plan
As part of the Kauffman-sponsored Energizing Health Collaboration Series, we've turned over eMed to Guest Editor Matt Keener, the chief architect for the Pittsburgh leg of the collaboration conference. Through his work as a translational clinical neuroscientist and CEO of the healthcare startup emodt, Matt has collaborated with a number of healthcare entrepreneurs. Here are insights from one of them.
Many entrepreneurs develop their business plan before landing clients. Yet that wasn't the case for Insight Health Systems, which sells the web application Chorus, said co-founder Armen Arevian. Instead, he said, the process of creating and selling Chorus, which lets users create mobile web applications visually with point-and-click, has been dictated by client needs.
For instance, Arevian said, Chorus was originally a self-service product. But it quickly became clear that clients wanted support. With that realization, he said, the business model shifted. "We learned that by working with customers to see what their needs were," Arevian said.
Here are other entrepreneurial insights from Arevian:
Stay close to the problem -- An aspiring entrepreneur should embed himself in a space where he can observe problems and work to solve them, Arevian said. "That's helped me develop something that has quickly solved the need for a large group of people," he said. This approach has also attracted customers to Arevian -- without him having to seek them out.
Seek complementary skills in partners -- Though Arevian and his two business partners are all clinicians, the others are at a more senior level. Their additional clinical and business experience, Arevian said, has been helpful for the company.
Keep it lean -- "I'm a big fan of keeping it lean and doing it really simply first," Arevian said. He bootstrapped to develop a basic prototype, and then approached a UCLA professor who became his first funder. "Other researchers said, 'We need this. We'll give you some more money if you can add these things to it." It grew organically like that," Arevian said. "That helped us only add features that were really important."
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