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If entrepreneurship is a lock and key, start with the lock

Christina Hernandez Sherwood on June 17, 2014

As part of the Kauffman-sponsored Energizing Health Collaboration Series, we've turned over eMed to Guest Editor Matt Keener, the chief architect for the Pittsburgh leg of the collaboration conference. Through his work as a translational clinical neuroscientist and CEO of the healthcare startup emodt, Matt has collaborated with a number of healthcare entrepreneurs. Here are insights from one of them.


There are two ways to start a company, said James Lomuscio, co-founder and CEO of the physical therapy patient management software company Hability. Entrepreneurs must begin with either the lock or the key.

They key in this metaphor is a new piece of technology that could provide value in certain business environments, Lomuscio said. An entrepreneur could take his key from one industry to the next to see if it will unlock a problem there. An alternative is to start with the lock, learning where the pins are to create a key that fits.

Hability initially developed technology meant to improve patient compliance in physical therapy. "For a long time, we were attached to this piece of technology," Lomuscio said. But as the team learned more about the specific problems facing physical therapists, he said, they realized their technology wouldn't solve them. "Do we take the key out of this lock and try another lock?" Lomuscio said.

Instead, the team decided to pick the lock they'd learned so much about. In the future, Lomuscio said, they would start with the lock, rather than the key. "Entrepreneurs would do well to spend more time carefully considering the problem from beginning to end, he said. "It should begin with learning."

Here are other entrepreneurial insights from Lomuscio:

Keep your pitch brief -- If your pitch is more than two steps, Lomuscio said, it's probably wrong. The team initially had a three-step pitch to explain to physical therapists how the Hability system would save them money. "It was a really long path," he said.

Find a team that fits -- Hability has no physical therapists on its team, Lomuscio said, nor anyone with a medical background. He and his co-founder are award-winning game designers interested in tackling the medical compliance space. Most important, Lomuscio said, is working with people you can trust, who are comfortable doing many jobs within the company. "Forming the team is tough," he said. "You have to make sure that people are the right fit for the company culture."

Image by Orla

Category:  Creation  Ideation  Tags:  Entrepreneur, Company Profiles, Hability

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