How to find investors without pivoting from your mission
Kinsa's first product is a smart thermometer. But the company's mission is decidedly more ambitious: to create the world's first map of human health and help stop the spread of disease.
Like many healthcare entrepreneurs with social missions at the center of their startups, Kinsa's founder and CEO Inder Singh was faced with the challenge of finding investors without pivoting from his company's central goal. Singh took care to avoid medical device investors, instead targeting investors focused on big data.
"We had a screening process for investors," Singh said. "It was that their investment thesis aligned with our mission." He was clear about the type of investor he was seeking. "I led with our broader mission for what we're trying to accomplish," Singh said, "rather than our product."
Here are other entrepreneurial insights from Singh:
Let the right people find you -- Three of Kinsa's seven employees were "politely persistent" about joining the company, Singh said. Despite having significant credentials, he said, they were so eager to become part of the Kinsa team that they volunteered their time. Singh hired them instead. "I do believe passion trumps intelligence," he said. Singh said you can help the right people find your company by telling your story "everywhere you possibly can" and leading with your personal call to action. Since Kinsa works at the intersection of mobile, big data, hardware and software, he said, team members need to be able to communicate with people in totally unrelated areas.
Don't wait to determine regulatory strategy -- It doesn't pay to wait to think about regulatory strategy, Singh said. The Kinsa team spent many early months considering how to develop an app that was partly regulated by the FDA and required HIPAA compliance, he said. Regulations were considered an objective, rather than an impediment, Singh said, and the team took pride in their protection of health data. "Just like you put a business plan together," he said, "you need to put a plan together to address some of the key issues in healthcare." The FDA-approved smart thermometer has launched in beta to 1,200 users.
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