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4 healthcare startups pitched their products. Here’s what we learned

So there’s something to learn from a handful of serious and well-financed health IT companies. That’s why we listened so closely to four CEOs at a health and sciences pitch event at the BioPark last week during Baltimore Innovation Week.

Part of an event called Switch Baltimore, which was organized by, the pitches followed a panel and an earlier lunchtime roundtable on the issue of commercialized technology in the region.

Here’s what we learned from the four companies that pitched last week. Find the presentation slides from the companies here:

  • Don’t underestimate your marketplace (emocha) — CEO Sebastian Seiguer shared how in January 2014, he helped license the technology for what was then just a research data capture tool. He broadened its reach to form a suite of health IT products to reduce the amount of time patients need to manage disease — like an app that lets patients video log taking their pills. Doing so is a chance at a much bigger business, Seiguer said, and he wants to build it here. “We want to stay and be committed to Baltimore,” said the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School graduate who recruited heavily from MICA’s social design program.

  • Don’t be afraid to follow the revenue (Avhana Health) — Cofounder Noah Weiner shared news of a slight pivot from the DreamIt Health graduate. Still focused on electronic health records, the company is specializing on “prior authorizations,” a complicated, federally-mandated process that requires patients to get specific paperwork in a specific order to get certain medications. More than two-thirds of patients don’t get the brand of medicine they’re initially prescribed, said Weiner, a messy result pharma companies are willing to put money into automating. So to grow their businesses, they’re focusing on that corner of EHR.

  • Don’t ignore the network around you (Sisu Global Health) — CMO Katie Kirsch pitched, with her CTO Gillian Henker in the audience and her CEO Carolyn Yarina prepping for what would be a winning pitch at a $100,000 Rise of the Rest event. The three cofounders came from Michigan and have spread their wings widely into the region since, including showing up all over this year’s Baltimore Innovation Week. They were even illustrated, for goodness sake. Their intentions are global but it appears they’re working hard to establish a support system in Baltimore. “That’s why we’re staying,” said Kirsch.

  • Don’t wait too long to plan to attract talent (Vasoptic Medical) — CEO Jason Brooks, a lawyer and Boston Scientifics alumnus, is building a highly technical company but has said he knows he’s competing to attract and retain talent in a wider creative sector. That means his move from Columbia to Locust Point in the city was a strategic one, long before his small team required it. They can now focus on business development and ongoing clinical trials, he said.

Switch Baltimore was part of the #BIW15 Civic Day and was sponsored by Camden Partners, the private equity firm, and BioPark.

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