A Student’s Perspective: Investors in the Hot Seat Helps Entrepreneurs Help the Health Sector

Stephanie Vatz is a student at Columbia’s School of Journalism. She is one of ten students providing on the ground coverage of SMWNYC- all from the student’s perspective. She is providing her report from Investors in the Hot Seat. You can follow Stephanie on Twitter at @stephvatz.

 

The Saatchi and Saatchi Health and Wellness Hub displayed an array health tech devices on tables this Thursday, as entrepreneurs wandered around the space, mingling with investors and other business people all looking to use their start-ups to improve the world of health. They had all come to hear a team of health investors answer their questions about how to gain seed or development money for their projects.

Among the company heads was Kevin Dawkins, who runs CFFone, a mobile social network company that provides support for teenagers with cystic fibrosis. Ordinarily, Dawkins explained that cystic fibrosis prohibited the teens from spending time with other cystic fibrosis patients because of risk of infection, but the social network allowed them to share stories of their disease and support each other digitally.

CFFone had already received a grant from NIH, but the grant was going to expire in about a year so Dawkins came to the event to learn more about how to find the right investors and pitch to them.

“The people who spoke are exactly the types of people we are going to be pitching to,” Dawkins said after the event.

Those investors he was referring to were Steve Krein of Startup Health, Dave Whitlinger of the NYeHealth Collaborative, Todd Pietri of Milestone Venture Partners, Mohit Kaushal of West Health Fund, Maria Gorsch of the New York City Investment Fund and Brad Weinberg of Blueprint Health.

The six panelists took the stage to describe their own businesses as well as the model companies they wanted to invest in–organizations that could bridge the disconnect between the government stakeholders and patients on the ground in order to create better and more affordable health care.

The conference comes at a time when the stimulus package that President Obama passed was like giving “rocket fuel to this sector”, when West Coast investors are beginning to invest in East Coast companies and when health industry is looking to the private sector for new software and technologies.

Like at many of the other SMW events, the speakers mentioned “Big Data” and discussed how it could be a valuable tool for emerging technology companies to offer, whether it be through software for hospitals or analysis and access to data for patients themselves.

“Everything we do is around lowering the cost of health care,” Kaushal said.