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Aging2.0 Startup Bootcamp Recap

Aging2.0 Startup Bootcamp Recap

Guest Bloggers: Ravneet Padda, Tiana Corovic (University of Toronto, Steadiwear interns) 

On June 20, 2017, Aging2.0 hosted a full-day Startup Bootcamp in Toronto with about 65+ local innovators and 15+ speakers. Aging2.0, a global network focused on bringing innovation into the aging space, has now 50 chapters around the world looking for the best startups. Planned events, such as pitch competitions, startup bootcamps and conferences, are used as facilitation tools to support innovators in taking on not only challenges, but opportunities in the aging and senior care sector. 

With 12 Grand Challenges and 10 global trends identified by Stephen Johnston (Co-founder and CEO of Aging2.0) for innovation in aging and senior care, innovators are given the tools to successfully scale up ideas that have the potential to attain high impact. For each of the 12 identified Aging2.0 Grand Challenges (e.g., End of Life, Livable Communities, Care Coordination, etc.) innovators must answer the questions: how might their innovation affect individuals’ ability to age in the community and how it might it affect businesses in this industry. These points are meant to ensure that a holistic approach is taken when making meaningful impact in not only the community, but in homes and businesses.

The Aging2.0 Startup Bootcamp was an excellent opportunity for entrepreneurs to hear tangible advice for creating successful startups.

Lessons to keep in mind:

By taking some of these key concepts to heart innovators are not driven to simply sell an idea, but rather solve a problem.

  • Design a product/service with the user and not simply for them
  • With multiple stakeholders there will be multiple priorities that will need to be addressed based on personal needs
  • Workflow-it’s not enough to solve small problems, but rather step back and see how any form of change may impact the whole
  • Design for a cause and not just for an end 

Innovation in Aging

Speakers addressing innovation in senior care, such as Ron Riesenback (VP, Innovation & CTO at Baycrest) highlighted the need for innovations to produce evidence of efficacy, be well priced, and have the ability to reach users. It’s also important to track trends across healthcare. For example, while cardiovascular disease followed by cancer was a primary target category in the past, currently innovations in dementia are high in demand. Aging is a very wide spectrum and by targeting different areas based on need and hard science, innovators will be able to make meaningful strides in addressing the aging community.

Investments in the Aging space

Another segment of the Aging 2.0 Startup Bootcamp was devoted to addressing investments in the aging space. Good business relations, scalable innovations, pilots that are conducted with an objective in mind, and size of impact are all areas that innovators need to address to capture the attention of venture capitalists. A common question when pitching an innovation to investors is how to prepare? As Azi Boloorchi (Director, Innovation & Strategic Partnerships at Revera Inc) elaborated, innovators need to demonstrate adaptability, have metrics and understand their data, and most importantly have ROI available to demonstrate how the innovations impact people, staff, and the investors themselves. Innovators might have to make pitches to as many as 200 investors, but it’s recommended that they also seek non-dilutive capital. Lumira Capital and Telus Ventures were also represented on the panel. 

First-hand Insight from Entrepreneurs

A panel of 3 experienced entrepreneurs also provided insight into the challenges entrepreneurs can anticipate, alongside advice on how entrepreneurs can tackle these challenges and succeed in the entrepreneurial space. 

As noted by Ryan Van Wert (Co-founder & Chief Medical Officer at Vynca), some of the biggest challenges involve maintaining equanimity in dealing with the high and low points of a startup. In his own startup, Ryan highlighted successfully financing a startup to be a major challenge and perhaps one of the greatest low points of a new startup, particularly when considering the prospect of a new venture that’s not receiving adequate financing. As such, he advises entrepreneurs to carefully evaluate the limited resources available to them and to prioritize the key activities that will bring the greatest value to the venture for the money used. 

For Mike Eidsaune (Co-Founder and CEO of Care.ly), the conflicting expectations from the senior care and technology sides of his venture proved to be the greatest challenge.  Whereas technology valued speed and scale, senior care ventures are limited by speed and have a much greater emphasis on convincing people to become interested in and accepting the healthcare solution offered. To effectively address such challenges, Mike highlights the importance of setting milestones, even if they’re as small as sending an email, to be able to identify the progress a startup has made both in micro and macro changes. In addition, he encourages new ventures to consider the impact of their proposed solution on caregivers. It remains of utmost importance to realize that the business idea is not viable if the solution adds additional work to a caregiver's job.

Jeremy Dabor (Head of Product Development at Sensassure) advises new entrepreneurs to tread carefully in the path of growing their ventures. He advises entrepreneurs to ask simple questions before investing large amounts of money into the business - questions such as: is there a need for the product in the market and can the proposed healthcare solution be tested in the market before a product is developed? In addition, entrepreneurs should avoid investing resources in clinical trials too early on into the growth of the business, and realize that many investors will invest money in the product before clinical data is available. 

Looking back at their experiences, all panel members agree that new entrepreneurs, despite the temptation to work 15-hour days every day, should establish a reasonable work-life balance and should focus on attracting and retaining talent. A reasonable solution involves offering remote work options, allowing individuals to work from wherever they are most productive.

Tours and Networking

The day ended with 3 tours and a reception.

JLabs: Provides a capital efficient and flexible platform where emerging companies can transform the scientific discoveries of today into the breakthrough healthcare products of tomorrow. To accelerate scientific discovery, business, financial and operational obstacles need to be removed so that companies can do what they do best, focus on the science and bringing innovative solutions to patients.

iDAPT: Toronto Rehab is home to the top rehabilitation research centre in the world. The iDAPT (Intelligent Design for Adaptation, Participation and Technology) Centre for Rehabilitation Research brings together the brightest research minds and state-of-the-art technology. 

Bradgate (Revera Community): Bradgate Arms has been a distinguished address nestled in the heart of Toronto’s Forest Hill neighbourhood. Once an exclusive apartment complex, Bradgate Arms has been transformed. Today, it combines the traditional charm of a boutique hotel with the contemporary amenities and comfort of a retirement residence.

Thank you to the supporters of this event:

Brookdale, CC-ABHI / Baycrest, Direct Supply, Formation Capital, Goodmans, Google for Entrepreneurs, MaRS, Medline, NIC, PointClickCare, Revera, Sabra Health Care Reit 

Pictures of the event can be found here.

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