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How self-selection can create a successful founding team

Christina Hernandez Sherwood, eMed Editor, MedCity News

When Crystal Law attended a MIT H@cking Medicine hackathon -- where participants present healthcare problems and form teams to develop solutions -- she wasn't planning to start a company. But today Law is co-founder and CEO of Twiage, a healthcare startup that works to provide better communication between emergency medical service providers and hospital emergency departments.  

Though the hackathon model brings together potential co-founders in a single weekend, Law said the Twiage founding team has evolved over time. While she initially planned to be intentional in building the team, Law said self-selection took over. "Starting a company is not easy," she said. "It sort of [becomes], who is able to make the commitment? Who can get through the difficult times?"

Here are other entrepreneurial insights from Law:

Focus on fundraising -- Start the fundraising process before you think you'll need the money, Law said, and raise more than you think you'll need. Law's own mentors gave her that advice, and it's proven accurate, she said, especially since many founders spend half their time fundraising. Approaching potential investors as partners is another funding tip, she said. "It's awkward to ask for investments,"; Law said. "[But] we're able to give our investors an opportunity to be part of this ride... I think that's really exciting for investors who believe in our mission and know we're the team who will be able to pull through. In that way, it's a partnership."

Take advantage of the entrepreneurship ecosystem -- As part of the accelerator Blueprint Health, Law said, the Twiage team gained a wealth of mentors and networking opportunities. "As an entrepreneur in this generation, I feel we're very fortunate," she said. "There's a very helpful and nurturing entrepreneurship ecosystem." And Law still considers the H@cking Medicine team part of her core network. "These are people who I really trust," she said. "Speaking to older entrepreneurs, I know this is a luxury." But even healthcare entrepreneurs who aren't living in Boston or New York can find entrepreneurship networks, Law said, through local meetings and online forums.

Above all else, persevere -- "You're starting something completely from scratch," Law said. "You have to remember that and not get bogged down." For a confidence boost, she said, keep in touch with the people who saw value in your startup before it went mainstream. "You get 90 to 99 percent 'no's.' It can be difficult sometimes believing your vision."

Photo by torbakhopper

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