Matchmaking — the Health 2.0 Way

I recently joined Health 2.0 and was brought on to play matchmaker as part of the company’s rapidly expanding Matchpoint program. The idea of Matchpoint speaks to the traditional role of a matchmaker, which is to find parties that are compatible and show promise of true partnership.  Interested parties ― from small health tech startups to our large sponsors such as Bristol-Myers Squibb, Medtronic, and UnitedHealthcare ― all want the same thing. Each  participant is seeking avenues for collaboration and the opportunity to partake in a journey that could lead to something meaningful.

Matchpoint is an exclusive opportunity for health technology entrepreneurs and large organizations, payors, and investors to meet in focused one-on-one meetings to explore potential avenues for collaboration. Every 15 minutes, we set up 10 innovators and promising companies to meet, greet, and charm health industry leaders. Out of the 300 companies we evaluated, 40 were hand-selected based on their potential and interest from the host companies.

Health 2.0′s preparation came to a head on Oct.10, and it heralded with it such excitement around the opportunities for both entrepreneurs and our large industry partners. After much preparation and event planning, it was just plain inspiring to see the excitement that filled the meeting rooms. Gangadhar Sulkunte from 4th Main Health flew in from France, thrilled to demo and present his company’s work to large players like Aetna and Premera Blue Cross. Bart Foster, CEO of SoloHealth, had a line of meetings, which included face time with Bristol-Myers Squibb and Kaiser Permanente.

Since its inception last year, Matchpoint has evolved from just providing focused platforms to incorporating workshops for entrepreneurs, setting up roundtables with industry leaders, and creating networking opportunities. Executive in Residence at Interwest Partners Michelle Synder discussed her “lessons learned” with a focus on go to market strategies and an insider’s perspective on what VCs are really looking for. Michelle was an early member of the senior executive team at Epocrates where she led user acquisition and monetization activities over an 11-year period from launch to IPO.

Former CTO of IDEO Doug Solomon provided his insight into how to leverage technologies that create social value and engage communities. Sanjaya Kumar, a veteran entrepreneur, spoke about how to navigate and gain traction in hospital markets. He directly spoke about his experience in leveraging a product that is now being used in nearly 2,500 hospitals. Lew Altman, a healthcare technology entrepreneur and strategist, gave an in-depth talk about how to succeed in payor-driven markets while building a business that adjusts to changing payment models.

I anticipate many future Matchpoints — including ones that take place around the globe. Here  are some key takeaways from Matchpoint San Francisco:

Opportunity to demo and partner in focused sessions

Our group invested a lot of time reading through company profiles and worked with our host partners to select emerging health technology companies to meet with. What struck me about Matchpoint was that our group had focused on selecting applicable companies and relevant partners so that these meetings maximized opportunity for collaboration. Matchpoint prevents both startups and potential collaborators or investors from sitting through demos that are not relevant to their areas of need.

At the day’s end at our cocktail reception, both entrepreneurs and host companies expressed how thankful they were that the meetings were focused, and they said how refreshing it was to hear about a product that every person was invested in.

Partnerships were established

These up close and personal meetings allowed innovators to pilot, collaborate, and partner with companies that had an initial vested interest in their product. Could people like Gangadhar end up with a lasting partnership with a host company he met with? It was inspiring to see him so thrilled at the end of the day. Beyond networking or demoing at a conference, these meetings provided a platform for which a team had already taken a look at the technology, and deeper discussion was needed to explore avenues for further partnership.

A few entrepreneurs came up to our team after our session and told us with the brightest eyes that a host partner arranged for follow-up talks. As for some of the smaller startups, both their relief that someone had recognized their efforts, and their optimism about what the future might hold was palpable. I was honored to take part in their excitement.

Matchpoint really isn’t just about the meetings and the workshops. At the heart of the event are the partnerships that extend beyond that day. These meetings represented useful and relevant avenues to contribute to health technology in a very meaningful way. It’s a platform that both identifies and makes matches that are meant to be. It’s about time to spread the love for health technology. We have our eyes set on various meetings both in the U.S. and internationally. Let’s get together!

Joy Bhosai, MPH, is Matchpoint manager at Health 2.0 and is a med student at UCSF.