Archive for July, 2011

The Patient Revolution

July 25, 2011

FountainBlue’s July 18 Life Science Entrepreneurs’ Forum was on the topic of the Patient Revolution. Below are notes from the conversation.
With the aging of the baby boomer generation, and the resultant huge volume of older, more affluent, more empowered consumers, there have been increasing demands for delivering life science solutions, from diagnostics to personalized medicines, from devices to nutragenics. Our panelists agreed that the challenge and the opportunity is to cost-effectively and efficiently create personalized, patient-specific data, services and products which would serve the breadth and depth customers from individual patients to physicians, hospitals and clinics, from payors to small providers to insurers. Indeed, the key is to leverage technology in a way which automates the production and distribution of information and services while minimizing risk and maximizing impact and quality treatment for the patient, benefiting everyone throughout the value chain.
Baby boomers have created a population spike which, like a snake who has swallowed a mouse, has impacted markets and industries throughout their life cycle, from infant to toddler, from teenager to young adult to middle age. As boomers are techno-philic, affluent, health-conscious and influential, their voices have been heard and have impacted market development and direction. So as they age, infirmities and elected treatments of an aging patient, from obesity to diabetes to sleep apnea, from baldness to arthritis, from sports injury treatment to knee replacement, will quickly rise in demand.
So the opportunities are there, but there are also challenges in meeting the opportunity, including reimbursement policies (particularly with Medicare changes), regulatory approval (particularly in the US where the FDA is becoming both more stringent and more unpredictable), as well as the ‘normal’ challenges of the life science industry overall: the longer development cycle, the greater need for capital, the greater risks involved, etc.
Those who will be able to meet those challenges will be more creative in bringing their products to market. Our panelists’ suggestions on how to do so are listed below:
• Put your products in the hands of the patient through channels such as your local drugstore (like Walgreens) or market (like Costco).
• Where possible, avoid the need for FDA approval or seek approval in countries outside the US before bringing it to market in the US.
• Serve a market need and target customers who are willing to pay for it, even if it has to come from their own pockets. Leveraging personal health care savings accounts (an increasingly popular strategy for patients) might help.
• Angels are syndicating and supporting early stage companies with a promising business model and plan and proven technology. Build relationships with angels who might be great mentors and potential funders.
• Help our policy-makers make decisions which would reward physicians to do the right thing for their patients, reward patients for making effective health decisions.
• Leverage social media and the web to grow your customer base, build your brand, create new channels, etc.
Our panelists commented on some hot opportunities for better serving the empowered patient.
• Help providers such as clinics and hospitals better, more efficiently treat and serve their patients leveraging IT offerings from databases to cloud to business analytics.
• The days of the blockbuster drugs are past, so whether you are in pharma or devices or biomed or mHealth, create personalized solutions which serve all stakeholders more cost-effectively.
• Baby boomers have historically adopted wellness and nutragenics solutions throughout their lifetime, and as they age, their preferences and needs will change. Anticipating and addressing this need will help forward-thinking companies succeed.
• Baby boomers love their independence, so products, services, solutions which help them remain independent as they age-in-place will likely be popular.
• Services and solutions which would help baby boomers make good health decisions for diet and exercise, and those that help patients understand their risks and genetic make-up will continue to grow.
The bottom line is that all stakeholders, from patients to providers to clinics, hospitals and insurers and policy-makers, need to forge a convergence between the world of technology, with its access to databases, business analytics, dynamic solutions, etc and the world of patient care, with its combination of pharma, device, medical record and health management solutions. The trick is t do this in a way which helps all parties make the best health decision *and* the most cost-effective solution for all parties, and collaborating to make it work.
We would like to thank and acknowledge our panelists for FountainBlue’s July 18 Life Science Entrepreneurs’ Forum, on the topic of the Patient Revolution:
Facilitator William Wright, VP Operations/ Business Development, Bay Area, at California MedTech LLC
Panelist Richard Ayllon, Director, Global Business Development, Ventus Medical
Panelist Don Ross, Healthtech Capital
Presenting Entrepreneur Ash Damle, Founder and CEO, Medgle
Presenting Entrepreneur Howard Edelman, President & CEO, VitalWear
Presenting Entrepreneur Oostur Raza, President & CEO, OmegaGenesis

Please join us in thanking our sponsors at KPMG for their ongoing support of the series.


Clean Green Financing Options

July 13, 2011

FountainBlue’s July 11 Clean Energy Entrepreneurs’ Forum was on the topic of Clean Green Financing Options and featured:
Facilitator Craig Lobdell, Director, CFO Advisory Services, KPMG
Panelist Tobias Kraus, Manager of R&D Finance, Tesla Motors
Panelist Shannon Fraser, U.S. Export Assistance Center – Silicon Valley, US Department of Commerce
Panelist Matt Lecar, Principal, Smart Grid Center of Excellence, Energy Applications & Systems Engineering, GE
Presenting Entrepreneur Brian Farhi, Vice President, Marketing & Business Development, Solar Nexus
Presenting Entrepreneur Michael Niver, Director of Project Finance, SolarCity
We would like to thank our sponsors at KPMG for sponsoring this event and the series. Below are notes from the conversation.
Our panelists agreed that the lack venture fundings have impacted the industry overall, making it very difficult for all-but-the-best to secure funding. So those with the great technology innovations who were able to bootstrap the technology development, partner with corporates, academics and others, leverage government grants, and otherwise show traction for the their clean energy innovation are those who have gotten funding during the downturn, and are well positioned to receive funding now that there is more money in investment funds.
The panelists commented on venture funding opportunities and trends, predicting that there will be a shake-out in the venture industry, and only those who have proven investment track records will remain, a bifurcation between those who found money for their funds before the monies dried up and those that didn’t. The remaining investors will be chasing the entrepreneurs who have gone into hiding during the downturn, working with corporations, consulting, or developing in stealth mode. But the time will come soon when those investors and those entrepreneurs will again meet, and we shall all benefit from the union.
In regards to policy, our panelists advise us to collaboratively create aligned, stable, predictable, transparent, economic-based policies at the widest possible level which are based on research and facts, not arbitrary numbers and standards, which are transparent, easy-to-implement, fair, and spark technology innovation and getting sustainable products and services into the hands of consumers, businesses and utilities.
In general, clean tech companies are extremely capital-intensive, so our panelists advised entrepreneurs to create a solution which follows the strategy of software companies who can produce technologies and generate revenues more quickly. You may also opt to create a smaller-scale solution of the end product which shows the validity and scalability of both the technology and market. Below is additional advice from our panelists:
Work with the best people to deliver proven, measurable value.
• Work with the best and brightest who have a proven track record, an innovative technology and a large market. Then prove that the technology works and the customers are willing to buy it. It’s not about the volume or impact, it’s about working smarter to build momentum and credibility, making your company attractive and fundable.
• Create win-win partnerships with corporates in your space to validate technology and market, to leverage their financial resources and channels, as well as their space and infrastructure.
• Minimize risk as you grow your business and keep reaching for the next milestone, the next level and types of customers.
Be resourceful in addressing your funding needs.
• Leverage government grants to fund early stage development efforts as they generally don’t take much equity share. But wean yourself both from government grants and from customer incentives, rebates and policies as you want to prove that your business can stand on its own, and isn’t just a result of an artificial market.
• Build strategic and broad network with potential investors. Then ask for a large amount of money to do big things, but run your company leanly and efficiently.
Be strategic about your offerings, with an eye to the needs of the customer.
• Customers are interested in sustainable solutions, but may not want to invest the big check up front, so think of revenue model including financing and leasing that would help you win these customers over while growing your business.
• Consider building a strong residential base first to help you sustain your company are you expand to target corporations and utilities, who have much longer sales cycles.
• Don’t rely on stimulus dollars or other monies to stimulate the economy and the clean energy sector, but do partner with all stakeholders to foster quicker and easier adoption of rapidly-scalable, innovative, game-changing technologies.

Below are some suggestions for some hot new clean energy opportunities:
• Provide online infrastructure and support tools which would help current providers better communicate and better serve their customers, leveraging the best of todays technology enterprise solutions, from ERP to cloud to automation.
• As the industry matures, consider targeting niche markets – the long tail of the market.

In summary, note that success breeds success – the more you succeed and build traction and momentum, the more likely you are to earn more wins. And there are plenty of opportunities for the biggest and dirtiest industry on the planet. If all stakeholders work together to forge change, to spark entrepreneurship and innovation, we may see the biggest changes in our lifetime, and a more promising future for those who come after us.
FountainBlue would like to thank and acknowledge our panelists for our July 11 Clean Energy Entrepreneurs’ Forum on the topic of Clean Green Financing Options:
Facilitator Craig Lobdell, Director, CFO Advisory Services, KPMG
Panelist Tobias Kraus, Manager of R&D Finance, Tesla Motors
Panelist Shannon Fraser, U.S. Export Assistance Center – Silicon Valley, US Department of Commerce
Panelist Matt Lecar, Principal, Smart Grid Center of Excellence, Energy Applications & Systems Engineering, GE
Presenting Entrepreneur Brian Farhi, Vice President, Marketing & Business Development, Solar Nexus
Presenting Entrepreneur Michael Niver, Director of Project Finance, SolarCity
We would also like to thank our sponsors at KPMG for sponsoring this event and the series.

Your Gender and Its Impact On Your Leadership Style

July 11, 2011

FountainBlue’s July 8 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series was on the topic of Your Gender and Its Impact on Your Leadership Styles. Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have a panel of experts this month who were as passionate about leadership and empowerment of women as they were knowledgeable, experienced and successful enough to make an impact in their circles small and large.

The panelists shared stories about partnering with leaders at all levels from the bottom to the top, and back from the top to the bottom, and working with them to see their own behaviors, to be more flexible, more inclusive, more collaborative, facilitating continuous conversations exchanging ideas and connecting with a broader spectrum of ‘others’, while valuing and empowering all.

Below is advice from our women leaders on how to better leverage gender and make a broader impact:
Tips For Being More Strategic
• Know yourself – your passions, strengths and weaknesses and make career plans for yourself which would help you to grow and succeed.
• Honor your values and your integrity by choosing to do the right thing, despite the pressure and circumstances, even if it means taking a short-term hit, or making a painful stand. But use your best judgment in doing the right thing, making sure that health and well-being of yourself and your family are not in jeopardy and while maintaining quality relationships, and holding true to your personal brand.
• Think carefully through which organization and team you would like to join and ensure a cultural fit with your own values, style and standards.
• Whatever your role, whatever your gender, add value to the organization you’re working for, in a capacity that makes sense, based on your interest, experience and role.
• Manage your emotional responses into a passion for a cause, and communicate in business terms around your passion.
• Be proactive and anticipate best and worst case scenarios and put yourself in progressively more influential positions as you succeed in managing through changes and challenges.
• Use key buzzwords so that people see you as a bigger-picture person: Be strategic, talk about your vision, align business units, conduct integrated business planning, monitor performance, etc.
Tips for Building Influence
• Wherever you land, even in the most ideal situation, you will need to shift the mindset of others you’re working with who may treat you badly and differently because of your gender. Accept this as the truth and find a way to turn it to your advantage and succeed despite the challenge.
• Make a plan for what you will accomplish every day, week and month, to make the impact you’re seeking to make. Rally others to support yourself and the goals you’re setting. The better, more collaborative results you get, the more influence you will have for this and other projects.
• Whether or not you’re interested in advancement, shift your thinking into working smarter, connecting and communicating with the right people rather than working harder behind the scenes and not necessarily getting the credit or recognition you’ve earned.
• End conversations, particularly difficult conversations in a positive, constructive note.
• Listen to learn about people’s passion, interests, priorities, etc and collaborate with them to find a win-win.
• Have a meeting before a meeting to help ensure you have the influence you want in a meeting, on behalf of your team and your project and your company.
Tips for Building a Network
• Build rapport and deeply connect with people who matter to you in a conscious, intentional and plan-ful manner, so that you are genuine and authentic.
• Consider leveraging humor during awkward conversations, with the interest of maintaining rapport and connections. If you have to call someone on something they’ve done, don’t make them look bad publicly, but do ensure that they know that their behavior is not acceptable.
• Build a network who will support you and challenge you and help you grow and succeed. Maintain that network as leadership is a journey, not a destination.
• Seek and provide honest, considered feedback and work with others who would help you keep raising the bar.
• Connect with influential others by finding and sharing common ground. Where appropriate, see the world from their point of view and speak and communicate to them on their terms.
• If you want plum assignments, engage before it comes up network with a more and more influential people.
• Know your goals and be willing to share them with influential others and enlist others to support you in your goals, while supporting them with theirs.
Tips for Work-Life Balance
• Respect work-life integration as part of the equation and set boundaries so that you honor your personal priorities. Make it safe for others around you to the same, but respect that it’s about working smarter and delivering results, not about extended hours in itself.
• Be fully present at work and at home, rather than feeling guilty and less engaged focusing on the other while you’re choosing to do the one.
• Be matter-of-fact about the work-life integration choices you’ve made, and confident that the results speak for themselves.
• Set and communicate your boundaries about when you are available to work and what types of assignments you can take. Then respect those boundaries making few exceptions.
• Manage your self-talk so that you are empowering, clean and truthful. Lose the guilt, while always striving to improve.
• As Jerry Elliott exec vp at Juniper would say, ‘outsource everything but love’.

In the end, it is women like our panelists are the types of change agents who help us see inequities and feel inspired and empowered enough to do something about it. But don’t just leave feeling energized as you envision a bigger tomorrow – do something about it. Create a plan and connect with others who can support you in making something happen, help you and others around you lead it forward, for the betterment of all.

• Love Is the Killer App: How to Win Business and Influence Friends by Tim Sanders (Paperback – Jul 22, 2003)
• The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle (Sep 29, 2004)

Please join us in thanking our hosts at Oracle and to all our corporate partners for their ongoing support of the series. We would also like to thank and acknowledge our panelists for FountainBlue’s July 8 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series:
Facilitator Nancy Monson, Nancy Monson Coaching
Panelist Caroline Cornely, Senior Finance Manager, Cisco System
Panelist Natalie Guillen, Integrated Business Planning, PayPal
Panelist Luanne Tierney, VP of Global Channel Marketing, Juniper Networks
Panelist Barbara Williams, Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Oracle