Call the Experts
Nine startups demo’ed today at Blueprint Health, the health-tech startup incubator nestled in a Soho office that opened its first session in January. The room was packed, the rock music was at an appropriate volume, and the sandwiches ran out before Betabeat got there (early!).
But what followed was a highly-polished series of demos, following the formula: introduction by a mentor, pitch, market opportunity, amount being raised and for what, and team. Most teams were highly polished, although the startups seemed to go from more to less compelling. “This is like extreme startup makeover!” one mentor said in his intro.
The companies are raising between $350,000 to $750,000 each. A survey of the guests showed a smattering of investors, a smattering of entrepreneurs, a few journalists and a vast number of Blueprint mentors.
On to the demos.
Former U.S. Senators Bill Frist, a doctor and former Senate majority leader, and Tom Daschle, author of Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis and former Senate minority leader, have both joined ZocDoc’s advisory board, the doctor appointment booking startup announced today.
“We very much view both these senators joining our advisory board as sort of welcoming ZocDoc to the party in terms of the healthcare establishment,” ZocDoc CEO Cyrus Massoumi told Betabeat. “We have big plans for how we want to help improve the healthcare system… we’re excited that we’re going to have the ears and the thoughts of people that really have shaped the healthcare system to date and helped to make it better.”
Betabeat dropped by ZocDoc‘s ninth floor Soho office this afternoon for some of the startup’s famous catered lunch–today, sandwiches and salads from TriBeCa eatery Peace and Love, which employees munched at the cafeteria-style tables, each topped with a bottle of Sriracha.
Betabeat grabbed a salad and followed COO Oliver Kharraz and communications director Allison Braley into the conference room, decorated with an oversized painting of CNN medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta giving Bravo TV’s Dr. Gregory House a triumphant high five. “I keep meaning to tweet that picture,” Ms. Braley said. “That’d be a good tweet,” we agreed.
On Friday last week, ZocDoc had a birthday party. CEO Cyrus Massoumi gave a rousing speech, we were told, as did former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, for whom healthcare reform is a chosen cause. Mr. Daschle talked about how ZocDoc’s simple solution–easy online booking, updated in real time, as a way to fill all the holes in doctors’ schedules–could play an important role in industry reform. Mr. Daschle, who now works for global law firm DLA Piper, is still close to the current administration and remains knee-deep in the government-led healthcare reform effort, so his endorsement was no small praise.
THE FOUNDERS OF ZOCDOC.COM, Cyrus Massoumi and Dr. Oliver Kharraz, had just concluded the very first public demonstration of their medical appointment-booking app at the TechCrunch40 conference in September 2007 when they got a review that threatened to put the whole endeavor on life support.
“Honestly, it would just never occur to me to go to any site to pick a doctor,” said Guy Kawasaki, the Silicon Valley venture capitalist, early Apple employee and venerable start-up guru, smiling and chopping the air with a pen. “I mean, it’s just sort of too facetious.”
Emphasizing once more that he would never use such a service, he turned to a fellow judge on the panel, the entrepreneur and philanthropist Esther Dyson, and elaborated, “You’d go to a site and just, ohhh, you know, Lisa Macintosh went to Harvard, she looks cute, I’ll have her operate on my heart!”
The audience responded with belly laughs.