On October 1, 2018, an audience gathered in downtown Boston to celebrate young, leading entrepreneurs’ failures and successes on the Forbes Stage. Throughout the week, young aspiring leaders heard from entrepreneurs, actors, musicians, and politicians about their stories in various industries such as fintech, manufacturing and robots, healthcare, consumer tech, and more.
Here are our three biggest takeaways from the Healthcare Summit, sponsored by MCHT Champion Vertex Pharmaceuticals.
1. We need to celebrate entrepreneurs and innovation
Nat Turner, CEO of Flatiron Health, and Josh Kopelman, Partner at First Round Capital, spoke about their story of building a $2B health data repository. Nat Turner shared the backstory for how he developed the oncology electronic health records (EHR) company.
When he was working in AdTech at Google, inspiration to transition into healthcare started when a young relative was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. After battles with misdiagnoses and visits to multiple hospitals, Nat Turner realized his passions lied in healthcare. He shared more about the journey to developing Flatiron Health, leading to their recent acquisition by Roche.
Josh Kopelman and Nat Turner also shared their insights into the importance of celebrating entrepreneurs, leaders who carve their own paths and journeys. They reflected on the importance of encouraging young leaders to not follow a roadmap and that success isn’t defined by one rigid path. It’s this type of encouragement for innovation that results in the development and growth of Flatiron Health.
Armon Sharei of SQZ Therapeutics, an alum of the MassChallenge Boston Program, spoke alongside Carl Schoelhammer, co-founder of Suono Biotech, and Cody Daniel, co-founder of 3Scan.
The three bioscience entrepreneurs shared their transitions from working in academic labs to founding companies. They also shared their inspirations for transitioning from academia to industry, provided some insight into fundraising, and offered insight into exploring the role of venture capital firms.
2. Technology isn’t the only solution to health’s challenges
Sometimes, as a society, we think that technology companies are the only ways to cause disruption. However, when we are thinking about health, technology isn’t the only solution. For those in biotechnology, both technology and an understanding of biological systems work to drive innovation in health.
Cigall Kadoch, founder of Foghorn Therapeutics, spoke about this during her session “Making the Pitch.” As a scientific founder with a strong academic background, she reflected on the need to support biotech companies.
She believes that biotech companies are a balance of discovery through research and innovation through new products and technologies. Therefore, in order for biotech companies to continue emerging, we need to support biotech entrepreneurs and appreciate that both biology and technology need to work together in order to solve health’s massive challenges.
3. Partnerships play an important role in company growth
Companies do not grow by themselves. Sometimes, entrepreneurs need to rely on key industry experts or partners to support their initiative and growth. This was a common theme throughout the Healthcare summit, one example being the partnership between Forbes and Vertex Pharmaceuticals which made the event possible.
Throughout the summit, we heard from various entrepreneurs who work about the importance of partnerships in their companies’ growth. For example, Nat Turner spoke about the autonomy and opportunities Roche’s partnership provides Flatiron Health in their company’s growth. Although Flatiron Health was acquired by Roche, the oncology EHR company operates as an independent entity. Nat Turner reflected on the growth the company has seen through access to various companies as a result of their partnership with Roche.
Additionally, Cigall Kadoch spoke about her partnership journey with Doug Cole, managing partner at Flagship Ventures. Throughout her journey, Doug encouraged and supported Cigall’s decisions to create the company, join as a scientific partner, and decide on a CEO who shared similar values.