In January our startup company, Reflexion Health, Inc. graduated from the West Health Incubator and moved into our own digs in downtown San Diego. We’re developing physical therapy software using the Microsoft Kinect platform.
We’re fortunate to be one of the first companies to license its initial technology from the Gary and Mary West Health Institute, receive funding from the Gary and Mary West Health Investment Fund and transfer into the Incubator.
“Now that we’re out on our own, we thought this would be a great opportunity for us to reflect on how far we’ve come and what we learned – through both our successes and our struggles.”
So here they are, in no particular order:
1. Building a great digital medicine product is tough. You need to find amazing, diverse talent. Start by working with world-class clinicians. Hire a couple and observe them as much as humanly possible. You need to understand what the best of them do, and build digital tools to augment, replicate and improve upon those practices. Learn from patients as early as possible. Their experiences continue to shock us (both in what works and what doesn’t). We are far from declaring success, and the only reason we’re still in the game has been our ability to find amazing talent – from the gaming, consumer health and medical device/health IT industries – and throw them all into the same boat.
2. Focus. Have a long-term vision, but keep blinders on. This will help you focus on building the most important piece first, instead of everything all at once. The art of editing a product down to exactly what you need – and nothing else – is a tremendous challenge. No one needs the kitchen sink. In the last two years, all of our biggest mistakes started by violating this rule
3. Healthcare sales cycles are long. Be prepared to endure them, and find entrepreneurs inside large organizations who have the passion and budget authority to make something happen quick(ish). Plus, you HAVE to start selling early, but…
4. ...be honest. The more (painfully) honest you are about your prototype – even if it isn’t close to what a potential customer is envisioning – the better the process will go and the more trust you’ll build. We take pride in how much our clinician-customers and patient users love seeing their input in our (more) finished products as we continue to iterate and improve. The US market (our early focus) is filled with very smart, very compassionate leaders of healthcare delivery systems that know they need to move faster and be ready for the future. If they’re convinced you can help them, they might take a chance on you – but only if you never sell vaporware or try to sneak one by them by mixing up what you DO HAVE with what you COULD HAVE after months more development and oodles of dollars.
5. Communicate. Once your startup grows to more than a few people, stop assuming everyone knows everything about what’s going on. You need to be become much more focused on communicating the company’s long-term vision and near term tactics. This helps everyone stay on the same page and understand the importance of their personal goals in terms of the organization’s long-term vision. We’ve gotten better about weekly stand-ups and quarterly reviews immediately following our board meetings. But even now, at 25 people, we realize too often that some of our team members are in the dark, making it hard to row our boat in the same direction.
6.Get help. It’s great to have support. It allows you to create a quality product without being distracted with building up basic operations. Being part of the West Health ecosystem gives us access to assets and talent that would have taken us months of time and tons of energy to assemble. We are so lucky to have been able to stay focused on our product market fit instead of having to worry about building company infrastructure and support, such as accounting, communications and regulatory.
7. Keep Your Eyes on the Prize. Everyone starts with good intentions. However, it’s easy to get caught up trying to please so many different healthcare stakeholders. Never forget the one stakeholder who really matters at the end of the day. For us, that’s the patient. If we’re not helping patients get better, we’ve failed.
Co-founder and CEO
Dr. Ravi Komatireddy
Co-founder and Chief Medical Officer