Dreamit — Refiner’s fire for your startup
We’re just closing out the second full week of onsite customer immersions for the Dreamit Health 2016 cohort. In today’s final event, 15 Dreamit companies will present in front of global pharma giant Merck in New Jersey. Like the other pitch sessions Dreamit has arranged for us over the past two weeks, the Merck session will deliver extreme value to the companies (provided they are well-prepared).
Such have been the stages Dreamit built for us over the past ten exhausting, value-packed days.
As a refiner’s fire purifies gold…
The first two weeks of the 16-week Dreamit accelerator program were onsite pitches, demos, and immersions at large corporations (aka potential customers). Weeks 3–14 will be spent at Dreamit HQ, and weeks 15 and 16 will be an investor road show where we’ll meet with top VCs on both coasts.
The entire program is carefully designed to create a foundation for the culmination of the program in the investor roadshow. Dreamit’s approach to building companies is like a refinery that converts raw metals into products of value in a quick, intense process — there are no theoretical approaches, books, lectures links to TED talks at Dreamit. It’s more like trial by fire, if you will. To mix metaphors a bit more, the Dreamit managing directors have tossed us to the sharks. Last week Dreamit Health companies met with Pfizer, Independence Blue Cross and First Round Capital (read about my impressions of that week). Little did I know that was just the beginning and that the Dreamit team would be adding more fuel to the fire this week.
Dreamit’s approach to building companies is like a refinery that converts raw metals into products of value in a quick, intense process — there are no theoretical approaches, books, lectures links to TED talks at Dreamit.
Then it got hot
When I initially reviewed the welcome package for Kermit’s acceptance to the program, I thought, “There is no way our company is going to survive if I take all three co-founders out of the office for two weeks.” We are in the midst of contracting with the nation’s largest not-for-profit health system and just hired two key staff who will have two weeks of tasks under their belt before they get to meet us. We crafted a divide and conquer approach to tackling the Dreamit program and made a commitment to be in Dreamit’s Philadelphia office with our executive team.
Here’s a typical week…
- Team meetings with Dreamit managing director Phil Christian, MD and St. Luke’s Health chief innovation officer Matt Fenty to understand key assumptions we’re making about our offering and our market and then proceed to tear into them
- Pitching to the largest healthcare communications network in the US — Digitas Health
- Evening event at UPENN where Dreamit’s chief innovation officer Steve Barsh gave a talk on de-risking startup companies and a select group including Kermit had an opportunity to pitch to the audience
- We host our investor, former NFL Super Bowl kicker Matt Stover at Dreamit’s offices to meet their executive team
- We race over to Penn Medicine, where we participated in a tradeshow that received television coverage
- Back to the Dreamit office, where we host one of our advisors who is in town
- Drexel University heavy hitters from big data, College of Medicine, College of Nursing & Innovation are on hand at the Dreamit office to hear all 15 pitches, again, followed by a networking lunch
- Onsite visit to Universal Health Services HQ (over 230 hospitals nationwide, NYSE: UHS) to pitch their C-level executives
- Morning meeting at Dreamit with their COO Darren Sandberg — more tearing up the Kermit model
- Off to another trade show at Independence Blue Cross headquarters
- Lunch on the road because its now time to pitch, again, to Temple University Health System
- Global broadcast of the onsite pitches at Merck HQ in New Jersey
Has it worked?
I’ve been telling our story and selling our value to hospitals and other key influencers for four years now — the last two being very focused on the Kermit cloud application for hospital supply chain spend management. I thought I had this down. But being tossed right into the Dreamit immersions and the feedback we have received led us to the realization that we needed a complete restructuring of the value proposition of our business and messaging. If we had tried to reach this conclusion with whiteboard sessions and guesses, however educated they may have been, it may have been months before we got to this point, if we got there at all.
Returning to the idea of refining metal, I think we can safely say we made it our of the furnace. The Dreamit process turned up the heat and forced the impurities out of our pitch. What we were left with was the most concise, valuable iteration of our original offering. The culmination of these exercises was our pitch today at Merck.
Can I sleep now?
Accelerator is definitely the best name for these types of programs. Not only are they accelerating the cycle toward business milestones, but the amount of value-packed activities squashed into a compressed time frame is crazy. Without someone cheering me on from the sidelines and organizing my every step, I don’t think I would have put this much stuff into such a small window. And with the tremendous organization of the hard-working Dreamit folks, it is possible to just stay in your highest and best use.
Over the coming days I’ll tally up the hotels, Ubers, train rides, lunch truck receipts, parking fees and auto mileage between Baltimore and Philadelphia and my initial reaction will be regret just because I’m Ebeneezer Scrooge when it comes to the finances of my business…someone can tap me on the shoulder and remind me to go back and read this because it has been worth every penny and every minute of lost sleep, inbox neglect and mail piling up back at the office.
The multiplier effect of taking your business through this process, being guided by people who know how to coach you and what’s coming next and some of the smartest entrepreneurs and inventors I’ve ever seen has led to a better version of me as a CEO and of Kermit as a vetted solution that has demonstrable value for the hospitals in the US that are spending $74B per year on implants…30% of which is wasteful and needs to be recovered if we have any chance at right-sizing healthcare in the US.
Now, it’s time for a nap.
-Richard Palarea, CEO of Kermit