I’ve Vetted 3,000 Health Startups: Here Are 10 Things I Wish Every Founder Knew | by StartUp Health | Sep, 2022

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Lauren Schafer, Ventures Director at StartUp Health, reviews the decks and virtual data rooms of health innovation companies every day. Here are five things that get her excited about a startup application and five things that make her hit delete.


In her role as Ventures Director at StartUp Health, Lauren Schafer has reviewed the decks and virtual data rooms of more than 3,000 health innovation companies. She’s held more than 1,500 founder intro calls. Over time, patterns have emerged that have helped her keep up with StartUp Health’s incredible pace of investing in approximately one digital health company per week. Here she shares the five things that get her excited about a startup application and the five things that make her hit delete.

DO… make sure we understand what you do within 60 seconds of looking at your materials. The first thing to do is a simple but detailed overview of your product. Don’t use buzz words, but instead give us a real example or personal story to tie it all together.

DO…help us quickly understand your WHY. We love seeing a founder’s passion come out in their founder intro video (where founders introduce themselves to StartUp Health). This is much stronger than simply writing it out in your bio. In early-stage healthcare we are betting a large part of our decision on YOU as the founder, so show us why you’re the person for the job.

DO…point to a clear validation for your product. This doesn’t need to be revenues, but it is important to share both quantitative and qualitative data/metrics that prove you are on the right path.

DO…show us that you have done your research on StartUp Health. Come with an understanding of who we are and what we do (we have tons of info on our website and about a million videos on YouTube). Ask specific questions so we can make the best use of our short intro call.

DO…ask us for feedback when we are wrapping up the call. It shows us that you are coachable and open to learning. It also capitalizes on a moment in time when our conversation is fresh and we can provide real-time honest feedback.

DON’T… tell us you have no competitors and there is nothing else like your product in the market. Even if no one is doing the exact same thing, there are always other players in the space. We want to know you have an understanding of the market and have been intentional in thinking about your competitive edge.

DON’T…be murky about your traction. Numbers and metrics are important. Don’t add fluff or extra details. Give us the quick and dirty numbers ahead of time in the presentation so we can dig into context on the call.

DON’T… spend 20 minutes of the 30 minute call giving an overview of the company. You shouldn’t be talking for more than two to three minutes at a time. Focus on a dialogue as that allows us to build a rapport and to ensure we get our questions answered.

DON’T…only focus on raising capital/valuation/exit. We are looking for impact-driven founders and companies that are focused on much more than a three to five year financial exit. We can get into those details in further meetings. In the beginning of our relationship we should be more focusing on the vision of the business and how that fits into our mission at StartUp Health.

DON’T…skimp on the overview materials prior to our call. We don’t need to see all the secret sauce, but a high-level overview of the team, product, and traction of the company is essential for us to see ahead of time so we can get to the good stuff on the call. We don’t want to waste time on basic info gathering.

Bottom line: Send clear, concise information ahead of time that makes our prep easy. On the call, come prepared to share your passion and have a dialogue to give us context around the info/data you sent ahead of time.


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