Guest post by Christian Williams.
A founder’s dream.
When Jon, Matt, and I founded OpenLoop we asked ourselves one question. Why are we starting a startup?
I’d be lying if I said that we had all the right answers or even the right questions. Five years from now, when we look back to our early founding days and the ideas we shared, I’m excited to see the magnified results of our initial conversations. This article will cover the findings we’ve already seen as a result of our company building framework.
Where Techstars fits into our long term plan.
Before I get to the decision to join Techstars, we’d like to take a look back at our first nine months as a startup.
Both Jon and Matt are physicians. Through medical school they were told time and time again about the coming shortage of physicians and the impact this shortage would bring in the coming years. For them the opportunity was clear; there had to be a way to increase the impact single providers could have in the delivery of healthcare services.
I come from a different background, previously an IT Director at Anheuser-Busch, a thought kept recurring.
“No matter how well I do my job, the biggest impact I can have is selling more beer, faster”
I’m not saying there is anything wrong with selling beer! But I’m much more energized by the thought of placing medical providers where they are most needed—Saving lives by using their years of training.
The answer to Why are we starting a startup? became more clear. We were starting a company that would create more opportunities for healing as it grew.
And this has been reflected in our early traction. From our launch in January, we’ve onboarded almost two-thousand providers and sixty locations who share in our vision to create healing anywhere. Our team has quickly grown to support our providers and the clients we’re working with. Every single placement we make means that a patient is receiving care as part of our technology and services.
What getting into Techstars means for OpenLoop.
Have you ever met a wise person and clung to every word that they said? I’ve spent my whole life meeting mentors and trying to capture their thoughts.
Then I forget.
Or I apply the wisdom wrong.
And every single time I need to be reminded.
As a young founding team we made it our goal to connect with industry experts that have led organizations at scale before. Our board chairman, Richard ‘Dick’ Ferguson, former CEO of ACT, has been with us from idea inception to company formation.
Dick has been critical in guiding our decisions. Including prioritizing bringing on additional board members with 60+ years of combined experience in the healthcare & technology industries — Read more about our board here.
There are few opportunities that allow you to apply your own knowledge and receive feedback at scale.
Think of school. You turn in a paper. One person grades it. There’s your GPA.
Healthcare is a complex industries with rules, laws, regulations, technologies, all in support of the safety of patients. Making the right decisions for our business is critical for more than profitability, there are lives at stake.
We wanted to become part of a program that allowed us to test, pivot, and simulate business models in the safest path to growth.
With Techstars we’re able to connect with the 7000+ mentor network and constantly have our ‘papers’ graded. It’s infinitly less expensive to find out why something won’t work over email, rather than spending weeks or months developing features.
Joining the Techstars 1600+ company network.
Since 2006, Techstars has been turning early stage companies into category leaders: DigitalOcean, Pillpack, ClassPass to name a few Techstars Alumni.
Less than 1% of all companies that apply are accepted. Here’s the criteria for acceptance from the Techstars site:
We look at team, team, team, market, progress, idea—in that order.
To make sure OpenLoop had the least risk, and highest opportunity for success, we wanted to become part of this powerhouse of an ecosystem.
The Techstars application process.
Getting into Techstars starts with a video and application. After reading countless stories like this one online, we did our best to prepare for the process.
Here’s what we learned from our application
- Build a great team.
- Give first.
- If the Kool-Aid tastes good, drink it.
Techstars does a great job of being incredibly transparent with their startup evaluation criteria. If you explore the founders toolkit you can quickly learn the language the network uses to communicate.
Who are your customers. How to pitch. Design your category. All of these topics are covered at length for FREE. I highly encourage teams reading this article to first start here.
Jon and I spent weeks honing our value prop and digesting the content on this site.
Not only was our application accepted but our business improved drastically. We were able to answer questions in our interview with Techstars “lingo”. Putting us on the same page as the judging panel.
By investing your time in reading the materials promoted by Techstars, you won’t only create a better application, you’ll build a better business.
The Techstars Iowa Accelerator
We’d like to thank a couple key people for making our application process smooth, and welcoming the OpenLoop team into Techstars.
The first person that made our application enjoyable is managing director Kerty Levy. I first met Kerty at a 1 Million Cups event in Iowa City. Dedicated to the growth of the Iowa entrepreneur ecosystem, she was out early last year seeding the soil for the Techstars Iowa program. She’s a great connector and communicator who kept us informed of our application status without keeping our hearts pounding.
TJ Salyers supports Kerty as the program manager. As with all business related things, there is endless paperwork, due dates, and hundreds of people who may or may not need to sign or see something. TJ manages to keep everything running smoothly even with all the logistical challenges created by COVID-19.
Thanks both for welcoming us into the program! #TechstarsIowa
What Changes Will Techstars Bring to OpenLoop?
At OpenLoop, we’re big fans of the unknown. We’re curious about the future and do our best to mitigate risk along the way.
Our goal going into the program is to build the greatest business possible that fulfills our vision of healing anywhere. We are going to continue to deliver great customer service to our current clients, while exploring technology solutions that will improve our service offering.
With the backing of Techstars we’re going to build more faster and create a product that increases the autonomy of clinicians around the country.
As a team, we love to be surprised. Not with bugs and crashes, but with unique insights about the healthcare industry and the users we’re supporting. These insights are what we’re going to seek to create the best web-platform for our clinicians. And ultimately, the patients our clinicians will be caring for.
Keep checking back for more updates from us and share the journey of our acceleration. If you’re a founder reading this story, you can reach out to me directly at email@example.com if you want any guidance on your own Techstars application. We’ll be sharing more stories about our TS experience through the course of the Techstars Iowa program.
Christian Williams is the co-founder and COO of OpenLoop. This story was initially published on OpenHealth.