Day 80 — Business Model Exploration: Industry Partners

Testing out our value proposition with other digital industry partners

Today I set out to explore ways we might be able to sell to industry partners.

Industry partners. Other companies — typically in the medical-device or pharmaceutical industries — might pay for a solution if it gives them access to data or complements their own products or therapies. Roche, for example, has bought MySugr, a digital health solution for managing diabetes. The attraction of this business model for solution providers is the funding and resources that an industry partner can bring.

I started with a mind map of potential paths worth exploring:

Miro.com is awesome for creating visual diagrams

For today, I chose the companies on the left that:

  1. Had a digital footprint.
  2. Were focused on mental health.
  3. Would benefit from a digital education solution to complement existing offerings.

The Hypothesis

Going into today, my theory was that we could develop an engaging experience that isn’t currently being offered by these companies today. And that we could sell an engaging digital education experience: we could become the engagement company while these companies remain content experts and we partner to deliver content that resonates with a younger audience.

Of course a hypothesis is nothing without a test — so I used this afternoon to find contacts within each of these organizations and make my “pitch”. I ended up doing cold outreach on LinkedIn to product/BD/partnerships people from these companies. Not exactly the ideal approach, but it’s a start.

Mental Health Startups

Almost every behavioral health company I’ve come across is the exact same: they have a beautiful interface that enables you to connect to a therapist through chat and/or video. Some are even developing offerings specifically for kids and teenagers.

What I believe they’re lacking is content that can actually engage a younger audience. Having the opportunity to talk to a therapist is great, but should it be the only way? And how do you address the costs of care and the fact that most families are immediately priced out?

After last week’s test, I wondered if there is a way for these companies to complement the excellent therapists they no doubt have with digital tools that engage their younger audience. This way, as kids meet with a therapist, they get take-home activities that are actually fun and help them build skills (or, for families that can’t afford in-person care, at least best practice activities that do something).

Telemedicine

COVID has brought an explosion in telemedicine companies. Similar to the mental health approach, these companies are really all about making it easier to connect to a health professional.

In a similar train of thought, I wonder whether there are opportunities to give end users the opportunity to practice skill-building activities outside of physician time. Especially for a chronic health issue, the doctor visit is only 30 minutes out of the rest of your life: what do you do then?

Some companies are offering digital education tools, but they look like everything that exists today. And there just has to be a better way.

Modern Medicine

I didn’t have a better word for it. Maybe “concierge medicine”. Basically, making it really easy to get care from doctors with technology that simplifies the operational hassles of booking care.

For companies like One Medical, I wonder if we could provide another value-added service that helps justify their added expense over accessing traditional healthcare?

The Verdict

Without actually talking to stakeholders at these organizations, it’s hard to say. Generally speaking, I think this will be a really tough road unless we make it really easy to white-label our content and our approach to training. And even then, it’s probably just as easy for these companies to copy our methods vs. paying us to deliver an ongoing service.

More likely the companies I didn’t focus on today are better targets — specifically pharma and medical device companies. I’ll explore these more later.

What’s Next?

Tomorrow I’ll look at building a consumer brand. It’s a tough road, but I’d like to model out what it would take to make this a viable business.

Startup founder surviving in his parent’s basement.