Week One Reflection: Techstars Healthcare, in partnership with Cedars-Sinai

I’m happy to finally be able to publically announce that Inscope Medical Solutions is a part of the 2016 Techstars Healthcare Accelerator, in partnership with Cedars-Sinai. It’s an amazing program, for so many reasons. But it also feels a bit like deja vu.

Our first week here felt kind of like the first week of school. Except I actually want to be here. So it’s not actually a whole lot like the first week of school at all. But, I’ll continue the metaphor for laziness’ sake.

Remember how you always felt compelled to try to meet everyone in your class (and if you are an introvert like me, you probably didn’t actually make a huge effort) in that first week? Yup, that feeling again.

What about that one teacher/professor who always assigned something the first week? Remember that? They’d say, “Don’t worry, you won’t be graded on this one. It’s just to establish a baseline.”

   At least we get to learn while sitting on bean bags…   


At least we get to learn while sitting on bean bags…


Liars. They always graded that first assignment. Well that’s the managing director (MD from here out — yes it’s a bit confusing in a healthcare accelerator). Again, unlike school, I actually want to do the assignment, but I don’t fully understand it (KPIs are seriously hard for a pre-revenue company). Also, our MD isn’t a lying teacher. He’s pretty awesome.

Then there’s the school that felt somewhat like a prison, because you were plucked from break and stuck in for hard (work) time. You have to remember that, right? Yeah, our accelerator space is not remotely similar. It’s pretty stunning. We’re spoiled. 

    Pictures may be worth a thousand words, but they’re not nearly as valuable as visiting the space and feeling the energy. Come see for yourself!


Pictures may be worth a thousand words, but they’re not nearly as valuable as visiting the space and feeling the energy. Come see for yourself!

Did you ever get sent to the office and have to deal with the (surprisingly small) staff that you knew probably ran the place with black magic, but you never actually witnessed it first hand? Me neither, I was a perfect angel that never got in trouble (or caught). Anyway, every time I dealt with them in school, I could sense a secret loathing. None of that here. It’s incredibly humbling (and that’s really not a strong enough phrase) having people work hard to facilitate your work. Not just people though, seriously capable (probably more capable than me) people like Maureen, Omkar, and the associates who just want to make us more awesome.

Was there graffiti in the bathrooms at your school? There isn’t any here, but there was some at a gas station near the accelerator. I’m only including it here because I think it’s aBanksy, and that’s really cool.

Did you have a big pep rally or meeting your first week of high school? Well ours was on our first day. We watched part of an in-house innovation competition at Cedars-Sinai and the excitement in the room was tangible. But it wasn’t our excitement; it was the staff, nurses, physicians’ excitement from being actively encouraged to develop solutions to problems within C-S by the senior leadership. There was true, palpable buy-in from everybody I saw in the room. I’ve seen less-engaged audiences at startup events held by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs.

I could go on and on, but I’ve got “Mentor Madness” to dive into and homework to work on. Here’s what was due last week (and might be spilling over already):

  • Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) — these amazingly helpful tools help you identify, measure, and manage the most important metrics for your company. When you’re doing week over week (WoW) updates like we have to as part of Techstars, hardware development KPIs don’t fit. So Maggie and I are re-setting our KPIs.
  • Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) — figure out the one most important activity is for the week (hard). Set that as your primary objective (easy-ish). Determine what constitutes success, your key result (hard). Now identify what question you expect the OKR to answer (hard).
  • Institutional Review Board (IRB) — Cedars-Sinai is going to actively help us get our first devices used in patients. This is huge for us!
  • Identifying, Prioritizing, and Testing Assumptions — we thought we knew how to do this. We were wrong. Use the questions “do we have data to back this assumption up” and “how critical is this assumption to my business” to sort/prioritize. Duh? Yup, but reminders are good.
  • Jerry Colonna taught us how to be better humans and how to continually practice being a good human. Check him out, he’s pretty powerful.
  • David Cohen answered a lot of questions, and gave us a lot to think about. No real homework here, just a lot of mental jogging. He did re-assert the value of building a strong startup community in your hometown. Ahem.
   #givefirst y’all. #givefirst (it’s a Techstars thing, but you should understand)


#givefirst y’all. #givefirst (it’s a Techstars thing, but you should understand)

From the moment I walked into the accelerator space (technically I’m supposed to call it the Cedars-Sinai Innovation Center), I knew this was going to be a very different experience from anything I’ve had before. Both Techstars and Cedars-Sinai clearly pulled out all the stops to make sure this program will be successful. But the more amazing thing to me is how clear it is that very few of “the stops” that were pulled out for the program were manufactured for the program. Everything I’ve seen about Cedars-Sinai so far shows me that innovation is truly built into every aspect of the company’s operations, so the partnership with Techstars is just an extension of that. We’re in the right place.

So what’s my big take-away from this week? The magnitude of the opportunity in front of Inscope Medical is far greater than I imagined. I’m humbled that we were selected to join this very strong cohort and work with such an amazing set of partners. But we are determined to make the most of it.

If you enjoyed this, follow me here (and on Twitter) for more. I’ll be writing a weekly recap of lessons learned during this new program, along with some occasional more general posts about medical devices, startups, healthcare, etc.