3 marketing paradigms every healthcare entrepreneur needs to know



Before beginning the MSTC program, I regularly stipulated to my colleagues that I didn’t know anything about marketing. If I’m honest, I didn’t want to know anything about marketing. For me, marketing was mostly a pejorative word reserved for the magical hand-waving and special kind of half-truth whispered into the ears of people reluctant to buy something. Three classes into the MSTC program, though, and it was apparent that I had missed some rich opportunities due to this limited view. More importantly, I had committed the grave mistake of tacitly accepting the status quo paradigm of my customer. Worst of all, perhaps, I myself have been (kind of, maybe) a marketer without even knowing it.

For the last two and half years I have been a part of an Austin-based startup aiming to stymie the deleterious effects of preventable chronic diseases like Type 2 Diabetes and COPD. As is generally the case in startups, my compatriots and I have worn many hats. One of my hats involves conducting in-depth interviews with users so that we can learn about their needs and experiences. Following the revelation that user interviews are not just an aspect of but a central part of marketing, I retreated (appropriately chastened) to my recordings of the interviews I conducted to reevaluate my conclusions. Following are three observations that I consider blunders I made by not applying basic marketing paradigms that I hope other entrepreneurs in healthcare (and beyond) can avoid.

1. People that share an attribute don’t necessarily share a need.

Treating a person based on a disease or diagnosis is a logical and necessary approach for medical professionals in acute situations. However, when engaging with people as consumers rather than patients, segmenting by disease is often the wrong approach. Why? The mere fact that people share a disease does little to inform us of what people need. For example, consumer interviews revealed a broad range of needs for people with Type 2 Diabetes, from accountability to encouragement, healthy meal recipes to reminders to take medication. Some people simply need a trigger to remind them to make good choices, while others need hands-on training in how to healthily navigate a restaurant menu. Some just want to know that someone cares. Recognizing this range fundamentally changes the nature of the solutions we can and should employ.

2. Don’t assume people will pay for a problem to be solved at any cost.

Navigating healthcare payments is notoriously complex and, despite the sheer size of annual healthcare expenditures, health system margins are often slim. Consumers daily feel the impact of the real growth rate of per capita expenditures, especially at lower income ranges. But, as pernicious as some diseases can be, we should neither assume that people can or will pay for solutions nor that, in the grand scheme of their lifestyle, people can adapt to radical change. Rather, we should consider how we can meet them on their own terms.

3. Seek out the experience people want to have, not just the one that you can provide them

In most cases, a visit to a doctor or a hospital is a matter of necessity. Optimizing that experience is an important undertaking, but the reality is that in those circumstances people generally wish they were somewhere else. It isn’t an experience they want to have. The task in front of healthcare entrepreneurs is to envision experiences beyond this environment where consumers can willingly and positively engage.

A hallmark of worthwhile education programs is their ability to expose new paradigms and frameworks that can be immediately applied to areas of weakness, especially when you do not initially recognize the area as a weakness. The MSTC program has done that for me. While all the appropriate humble caveats apply (I am neither a healthcare professional nor a true marketer), recognizing the breadth and depth of the marketing paradigm has fundamentally altered my ability to assess the business landscape. Now, when I say I don’t know anything about marketing I don’t mean it as a willful choice but as a desire to learn about and understand the people who matter most: those we aim to help.


Elijah D Kelley is a graduate of the MSTC Class of 2018. He is currently a Solutions Director with Wellsmith Inc., a startup which gives people the tools to make simple, memorable and actionable choices to manage their health.

The Most Successful Companies Today Are Data-Driven

Enterprise Data Science

As a data nerd and product marketer, I never cease to be amazed by what data science can reveal about people’s preferences, moods, and behavior. These applications can range from the amusing to potentially life-saving. From its analysis of online interactions between couples, Facebook Data Science can predict with astounding accuracy the likelihood of budding relationships and break ups. Using Twitter data, researchers at Northeastern University developed a model to accurately predict flu outbreaks up to six weeks in advance.

Data analytics is being used by more and more companies to allow them to make better decisions, develop new products and services, and verify or refute existing theories or models. According to McKinsey research, “organizations that leverage customer behavioral insights outperform peers by 85 percent in sales growth and more than 25 percent in gross margin.” Perhaps then it is no surprise that some of the most innovative products, services, processes, and solutions were developed by companies that successfully leveraged and applied the customer insights that came from big data. The names of companies who have outperformed their peers through data are now household names.

With its unrivaled database containing the shopping and purchasing behavior of 244 million customers, Amazon used predictive analytics to build personalized recommender systems, book recommendations, one-click ordering, and anticipatory shipping models to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty. Guided by its mission statement to become “Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company,” Amazon is currently one of today’s most admired companies (in addition to enjoying an impressive $7.4 billion free cash flow as of December 2017).

Most people go about their day using Google’s search engine, email, and its Android operating system on their smartphones without a second thought. But as the saying goes, “if the service is free, you are the product.” All information that goes into those free services are eventually integrated into Google AdWords, Google’s online advertising service that has an ingenious business model using keywords, targeted advertising, a unique bidding model, and paid-per-click. Google AdWords is ultimately responsible for over 90% of Google’s staggering $89.5 billion revenue.

Netflix became the biggest streaming service in the United States using data analytics that combed through subscribers’ viewing habits, gathered valuable insights, and produced heavily personalized content. One successful hit that emerged was the political thriller House of Cards. To this day, 75% of Netflix’s viewer activity is still driven by its recommendation algorithm, which is estimated to save the company over $1 billion every year.

Amazon, Google, and Netflix may all have different business models but all three of these tech titans built their vast empires with a core focus on customer behavior data and analytics. Clayton Christensen, author of the best-selling classic The Innovator’s Dilemma, has taken pains to point out that customers aren’t really interested in products or services themselves but in what they do, specifically “jobs to be done.” Christensen further elaborates:

Identifying and understanding the job to be done are only the first steps in creating products that customers want—especially ones they will pay premium prices for. It’s also essential to create the right set of experiences for the purchase and use of the product and then integrate those experiences into a company’s processes.

For example, when someone buys Netflix subscription, he or she is not just buying TV shows and movies. That person is “hiring” Netflix to provide affordable and convenient entertainment. Examined in this context, Netflix is not competing not only with other streaming services like Hulu or Amazon Prime Instant Video, it is competing with “everything you do to relax” from listening to music or reading a book.

Successful companies such as Netflix know that they have go beyond knowing “who” their customers are. Specifically, they rely on data analytics as revealed through their customers’ behaviors to obtain a more accurate picture of what they really want and need, and how and when to best deliver it to them. The key takeaway for marketers is that they should not be segmenting their customers by demographics or personas, but instead be focusing on motivations, context, and triggers.

Data-driven companies like Amazon, Google, and Netflix are laying the groundwork for the future and various industries are feeling their disruptive effects. Industries unable or too slow to apply customer-centric, behavioral data-driven strategies in their business models will be at greater risk of obsolescence.

In today’s economy, companies are constantly reinventing themselves through customer-centricity, personalization, and customer experience. Data-driven analytics and quantitative insights are the must-have tools.

Another version of this article was originally published on the Abraxas Technology company blog. Read the original article here.


Aaron Tao is a graduate of the MSTC Class of 2017. He is currently a Product Manager with Abraxas Technology, a data analytics startup devoted to serving the out-of-home (OOH) advertising industry.

Follow him on Twitter here.

The Conscience of a Capitalist

“We need to discover anew what makes free-enterprise capitalism what it has been: the most powerful creative system of social cooperation and human progress ever conceived. We next need to rethink why and how we engage in business to better reflect where we are in the human journey and the state of the world we live in today.” —John Mackey

Thanks to the sponsorship of the Adam Smith Society, I recently had the pleasure of enjoying a private dinner with Whole Foods CEO John Mackey. Molded on the lines of the Federalist Society for legal professionals, the Adam Smith Society is an ideas-centered organization that seeks to connect business students, executives, and entrepreneurs who share a commitment to free markets, individual liberty, limited government, and classical liberal philosophy. The Austin Chapter was especially fortunate to host hometown hero John Mackey given his open advocacy of libertarianism and capitalism and the recent Whole Foods-Amazon merger.

Of course, Mackey was asked for his opinion regarding that particular “elephant in the room” during dinner but gave guarded answers, as expected. But the evening’s most rewarding aspect was the direct exchange of ideas on entrepreneurship, business ethics, and political philosophy, specifically the new movement he inspired: Conscious Capitalism.

Mackey and his coauthor, Harvard business school professor Raj Sisodia, elaborate on the concepts behind Conscious Capitalism in their book of the same name. At the fundamental level, Mackey takes pains to remind us that free-market capitalism is inherently good, and it is “the greatest system for innovation and social cooperation that has ever existed.” Billions of people have been lifted out of poverty, average life expectancy has increased, major diseases have been contained or outright eliminated, and civil liberties and freedom across the board have increased in the span of only 200 years when the Hobbesian state of nature was the norm for almost all people for most of human history. These indisputable trends are well-documented by eminent scholars such as Deirdre McCloskey and Steven Pinker, and by multidisciplinary projects such as HumanProgress.org and Our World in Data.

Despite all these major gains, capitalism remains under attack by intellectuals and political activists. In addition to the growth of “crony capitalism,” Mackey believes a major philosophical and rhetorical reason is responsible for capitalism’s bad PR:

In recent years, the myth that business is and must be about maximization of profits has taken root in academia as well as among business leaders. This has robbed most businesses of the ability to engage and connect with people at their deepest levels.

This stance can be traced to a famous article by the late Nobel-winning economist Milton Friedman, “The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits.” Despite considering Friedman as one of his personal intellectual heroes, Mackey believes Friedman’s view is too narrow and challenged him on this topic in a debate back in 2005. This exchange is archived by Reason Magazine and is well-worth reading as it exhibits the highest standards of professionalism and respect between two accomplished gentlemen with diametrically opposed views (especially relevant for today given the significant drop in civility between political opponents).

Fast forward to 2017. Some of the most admired (and top-earning) companies today include Amazon, Costco, Google, Patagonia, Southwest Airlines, Starbucks, and of course, Whole Foods. Each of these companies is cited by Mackey as those that have embraced its “rising consciousness.” He is convinced that a “conscious business energizes and empowers people and engages their best contribution in service of its noble higher purpose. By doing so, a business has a profoundly net positive net impact on the world.”

The Four Tenets of Conscious Capitalism

To “liberate the heroic spirit of business and our collective entrepreneurial creativity so they can be free to solve the many daunting challenges we face,” Mackey outlines his vision for Conscious Capitalism which includes the following foundational tenets: higher purpose, stakeholder integration, conscious leadership, and conscious culture and management.

There is nothing wrong, per se, with wanting to make a lot of money, but it’s not particularly inspiring. Instead, a conscious business should have:

…. a higher purpose which addresses questions such as: Why do we exist? Why do we need to exist? What is the contribution that we want to make? Why is the world a better place because we are here? Would we be missed if we disappeared?

Mackey suggests that businesses look to transcendental Platonic ideals for inspiration: The Good (service to others—improving health, education, communication, and quality of life), The True (discovery and furthering human knowledge), The Beautiful (excellence and creation of beauty), and The Heroic (courage to do what is right and improve the world). A clearly defined higher purpose will serve as the foundation stone of the business and can inspire and galvanize all stakeholders.

For a conscious business, stakeholders go beyond that of only shareholders interested in short-term profits. Under a conscious business model, major stakeholders will include “customers, team members, suppliers, investors, the community, and the environment.” Each part is linked together and the success of one constituency is directly dependent upon the others. Conscious Capitalism, at its essence, “recognizes that business is the ultimate positive-sum game, in which it is possible to create a Win for all the stakeholders of the business.”

For example, a conscious firm’s higher purpose and values will attract the right team members. These inspired team members will have higher levels of creativity and be more likely to deliver superior customer service which would translate into improved market share, higher revenues, profits, and shareholder value. (For skeptics concerned with measurable objectives and the bottom line, Raj Sisodia has marshaled an impressive array of evidence showing that conscious businesses are growing faster and are bringing in superior financial returns compared to their traditional competitors.)

To achieve these goals, establishing conscious leadership is an imperative for the company. Conscious leaders are “emotionally and spiritually mature…. and primarily motivated by service to the purpose of the business and its stakeholders, and not the pursuit of power or personal enrichment. They develop and inspire, mentor and motivate, and lead by example.” These leaders must possess “exceptional moral courage” and “above all, view themselves as trustees of the business, seeking to nurture and safeguard it for future generations, not to exploit it for the short-term gains of themselves or current stakeholders.”

With conscious leadership, people within the organization derive meaning from their work, and grow and evolve as both individuals and leaders on their own. A successful leader will recognize and nurture a healthy company culture that keeps the company committed to its higher purpose and maintain the harmony of interests between different stakeholders. As an energizing and unifying force, a conscious culture will bring a conscious business to life.

Summing up his new vision for business and philosophy, Mackey reminds us that:

Business is fundamentally about people working together cooperatively to create value for other people. It is the greatest creator of value in the world. This is what makes business ethical and makes it beautiful. It is fundamentally good. It becomes even better when it is fully conscious of its inherent purposes and extraordinary potential for value creation….

Our dream for the Conscious Capitalism movement is simple: One day, virtually every business will operate with a sense of higher purpose, integrate the interests of all stakeholders, develop and elevate conscious leaders, and build a culture of trust, accountability, and caring.

Millennial Entrepreneurship and the Road Ahead

During dinner, Mackey mentioned that he wrote his book with Millennial entrepreneurs in mind. This revelation meant a lot to me knowing that he, for all of his successes, is placing his hopes on my generation. Various polls have shown conflicting Millennial attitudes towards capitalism and socialism. But to me, the evidence is all around: we ride Uber and Lyft, we subscribe to Netflix, we expect free two-day deliveries with Amazon Prime, we take pride in being foodies, and we spend copious amounts of time on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. All of these everyday delights we take for granted are the fruits of the labor of free minds, free peoples, and free markets. As Brittany Hunter of FEE aptly summarizes, “Millennials Are The Most Capitalist Generation, They Just Don’t Know It.” Despite being cash-strapped, encouraging data show a large number of Millennials who still possess an entrepreneurial streak.

I encourage my fellow Millennials and entrepreneurs to read Mackey’s book, think about his message, and show this world what we can do!

This article was originally published on FEE.org under the title “In Capitalism, Nice Guys Finish First.” Read the original article. _________________________________________________________

Aaron Tao is a graduate of the MSTC Class of 2017. He currently works in the biotech/healthcare industry.
Follow him on Twitter here.

Come and Build It: An Entrepreneurs Journey

There are some people who keep on moving around all their lives looking for their own particular paradise. For me, I was lucky because I found mine in Texas. It has plenty of room for any dream I’ve ever had. But, try telling that to a wife and family who’ve lived all their lives in the grand shadows of our nation’s most vaunted monuments and institutions in Washington D.C. and the glitz and glamor of New York City’s skyline. The overwhelming response from them wasn’t encouraging

“Texas! It’s a desolate desiccated desert!”

Needless to say, it took time for both Austin and me to charm my family into packing our bags, and hitching our wagons to follow a dream, my dream.

I have to admit, there were times that I wondered whether or not I was crazy. Life on the East Coast had been great for me; I worked for Oracle, was a consultant with Booz Allen Hamilton, assisted in amazing research at one of our nation’s top research and development institutions, held a high position in the federal government, and even testified before the United States Senate. The only thing missing from my Washington, D.C. resume was a position within the White House! But, still Texas called to me and I had to find out whether or not it was a Siren’s song.

Stumbling upon McCombs School of Business’ Masters of Science in Technology Commercialization one day, I knew that it was the opportunity that I was looking for through with which to set myself up for success in Austin. I did not realize how true this was going to be upon submitting my admission package, but even though I already had earned an MBA, I found that the quality and quantity of advice that I received from professors and advisors at McCombs prepared me well for when I took my business idea out of the classroom and into the real world.

However, if there is one thing that is true in life, regardless of the field of work, it is “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” The amount of time that you spend researching your market, validating your idea with potential customers, and writing your business plan, inevitably results in the real world laughing in your face. At Health Hat, the company that I co-founded, this laughter was an opportunity for us to use what we had learned when building our plans to figure out how to react to life. If we had not done the research and customer validation, drilling down into our new target customer segment would have been game ending rather than just game changing. Instead of minor tweaks to our software, we might be re-writing the entire code.

Yet beyond the business plans and beyond building the software, there is a lesson that is not generally taught or mentioned in books. That’s probably because It is a hard concept to qualify or quantify but can be summarized as: ride the wave and make sure to get on the next one. The reason is as simple as Newton’s First Law of Motion “An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion..” Startups live and die every day because of two factors: their team, and what people think about their startup.

Ride the wave until it dies, and people eventually will forget about your startup and stop caring about your team.

I’ve found that staying on top of that startup wave is as hard as staying on top of a real wave. This past year has been filled with ups and downs. I’ve been told “Not interested” or “Come back to me when you have success stories” more times than I can count. But I’ve also signed a pilot deal with Seton Healthcare Family. I’ve been told by accelerators that Health Hat is not at a stage that interests them. But, I also became a “Veteran in Residence” at WeWork because of what Health Hat has achieved, and Health Hat made it into Bunker Labs’ Entrepreneurial Program for Innovation and Collaboration. Yet, as small as the wave seems to be to the wider world, winning Texas Venture Labs’ Investment Competitions’ James D. Pippin Veteran Award, for being the best veteran company in the competition was the first wave that I and Health Hat got on that allowed us to catch and leverage all of these other waves.

Riding the startup waves is as much about intuition as it is luck. Good luck!

Joshua Lawton-Belous

Follow Joshua Lawton-Belous on Twitter @alertingmainst





7 Truths of Being an Entrepreneur

Reprinted with permission from DivInc.

Being an entrepreneur is like jumping out of a perfectly fine aircraft and hoping you can create a parachute before you hit the bottom.

Knowing the following 7 things before you jump out of that plane might help you survive the fall.

You Look at Money Differently

Somewhere along the path to entrepreneurship I started looking at my bank account not in dollars but weeks. I know that at my weekly burn rate I can work on this idea for 11.3 more weeks.

Your therapist will love you, your accountant will hate you.

I honestly cannot remember the last time a paycheck hit my bank account on a regular basis, that is not necessarily a great feeling.

Trade shows are the greatest and worst thing for you psyche. People will look you in the eye and tell you your idea is amazing and that they want to commit to purchase and then disappear into the witness protection program the week after when you are doing your follow ups.

You should honestly tattoo on your forearm,

You do not have a sale until you have had your customer’s money for 30 days.

With that in mind it is critical to remember that your customer is not always the end user of your product. Your customer is the entity that is willing to separate themselves from their money to purchase your product.

Google’s customer is ad buyers and not people that use the search engine. Never forget that.

You Draw Your Own Map

Being an entrepreneur is like trying to move quickly through the thickest fog you have ever seen. Technically, you can run as fast as you want, but you have no idea if you are going backwards, about to run into a wall or fall completely off a cliff…

In the world of entrepreneurism, you are staring at a white board until you create your own plan of action, and even that plan can be completely wrong.

I have a love hate relationship with whiteboards that should be studied by a team of psychologists.

The Barrier to Entry to Become a Subject Matter Expert is Really Low

Rob Adams teaches New Venture Creation in the Master of Science in Technology Commercialization program at McCombs School of Business, it is a down and dirty breakdown of the down and dirty in becoming a domain expert. The biggest takeaway from that course is to interview 100 people throughout the industry of your entrepreneurial idea.

I promise you that if you read every relevant article, as well as scholarly paper on the topic combined with 100 interviews of industry related personnel you will know the industry better than anyone that exists.

I have the most random expertise because of this process. I can speak at length with experts in the following topics:

· Cannabidiol effect on treating seizures

· Growing and distribution of Hemp based products

· Emergency and Outpatient care clinic architecture

· Home based water usage patterns

· Taxidermy lead times and tanning requirements

· Integrated Practice Units

· Disparity of Referrals between Neurologist and Epileptologist

I have interviewed hundreds of people in my time as an entrepreneur and it all just adds up. People love to talk about their passion, introduce yourself, ask them a question and then sit back and listen.

Your Sense of Time Becomes Drastically Distorted

‘Entrepreneurs are the only people who will work 80 hours a week for themselves to avoid working 40 hours a week for someone else’

Man it must be nice working banking hours like that.

Pretty sure those bankers you are comparing me to were not up until 2am Skyping with South Korean manufacturers, nor will they be working through the weekend to secure a bid for proposal with a potential client…

The other day I got asked what I did for fun, I honestly could not even fake an answer. I had no clue. It was almost like my brain has forgotten that aspect of life. There are activities people do for fun that do not involve an excel spreadsheet, this is however a completely foreign concept to me.

It Is All About Implementation

There is no such thing as an Original Idea, someone somewhere has already thought about your Top Secret plan, sorry to burst that little bubble.

Much like it is all about the green sauce with tacos; with entrepreneurship, it is all about the implementation.

Never trust a person who demands you sign an NDA before they will tell you their idea.

That person has not been truly hardened by the hard knocks of the streets of entrepreneurism.

I agree with NDAs for proprietary Intellectual Property; but to swear me to an order of secrecy to tell me about your idea to create yet another app that puts “Hats on Cats” is over the top.

Establish the End State and Work Backwards

Within the first month there needs to be a Founder’s Agreement established that includes an agreed upon plan for exit.

It is mandatory to have the discussion and document what the core group of founders intends to dedicate the next 5 years towards.

Your endeavor will fail if there is a founder working towards building a unicorn, one that is hoping to create a lifestyle company, and the third wants to eventually file for non-profit status to enrich the community.

All three of those are awesome end states for any entrepreneurial idea, just not the same entrepreneurial idea….

Being an Entrepreneur is Scary

I have more questions about my future than ever before.
I have no idea if my ideas will work.

I am 30 years old and have more spots of gray than I should.

I know what it is like to wake up at 2:30am in a full-on panic attack.

I am in constant fear of running out of money, but one thing I do know…

I would not change a thing!


Neal Wendt is the Principal Consultant at The Hill Growth Fund, a boutique consulting firm specializing in Lean Six Sigma redesign, business model reengineering, organizational leadership and strategic planning. He is also a founding fellow of Institute of Lean Healthcare, a community committed to revolutionizing the Primary and Secondary care divisions of the U.S. Healthcare System. He can be reached at 512.740.8925 or neal@thehillgrowthfund.com.

SXSW McCombs Entrepreneurship Night Recap

In case you missed it the Texas MSTC program cohosted the annual SXSW McCombs Entrepreneurship night where successful McCombs entrepreneurs from the Texas MSTC Program showcased their startups. It was a great time to reconnect with old friends, make some new ones and check out all the cool things alumni and classmates have been up to. Meet the exceptional Texas MSTC startups that we showcased this SXSW:

Fishviews this startup creates 360-degree HD waterway maps of rivers, coasts and shores that can be delivered to desktop, mobile or VR devices. In other words, it’s similar to Google Street View, except watching a video feels like you’re heading down a river.

Mednoxa is an early stage medical device company bringing effective and affordable oxygen generation and delivery bandages to consumers to accelerate the healing process, reduce pain, and reduce scarring. They are now finalizing a minimum viable product in preparation for production.

Alafair Biosciences is an emerging medical device company developing a novel suite of products based on a non-cell adhesive hydrogel technology that protects and manages advanced wound healing. They just received FDA 510K clearance for VersaWrap™ Tendon Protector in 2016.

Gitty  is simplifying tech recruiting using AI.  Their mobile-first sourcing tool designed to uncover superstars of the software engineering world and is used by recruiters at Fortune 100 companies including Google, Facebook, Greylock Partners, Sequoia Capital and more.

Apptronik offers robotic engineering services as well products that are a result of their innovation. Now anybody from hobbyists to advanced researchers can use the same components used in leading robotic programs.

Texas Free Market Surgery are bundling together all the elements of surgery into one coherent platform and an upfront all-inclusive price making surgery simpler and less costly for patients, purchasers and healthcare providers.

SmartCities: Economic Development with Innovation

The following is an excerpt from a Mexican National Journal written by a Javier Cabrero an MSTC Alumni. You can find the full report here

SmartCities: Economic Development with Innovation

Javier Salvador Cabrero

The present study constitutes a Personal Application Project (PAP) designed as an
economic development plan based on entrepreneurship for the municipality of San Luis Potosí. This plan was developed using the experience acquired in the GeT-In program in Germany to propose a model that consists of two phases:

1) Diagnosis,

2) Implementation.

Its importance lies in laying the foundations  to make San Luis Potosí an intelligent entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Initially, an analysis of the economic and social needs of the metropolis is proposed, to generate a support system for entrepreneurs and local Potosina companies, and with that guarantee the incorporation of innovation processes and commercialization of the products and services that are offered in regional and international markets.

What benefits does the project generate? Positive and measurable economic and social impacts are expected for the people of San Luis Potosí, such as: reducing the unemployment rate, reducing talent leaks and promoting San Luis internationally as a fruitful destination for innovation and business development.  

Objective of the Personal Application Project (PAP)

The present personal application project (PAP) was created within the framework of the Professionalization of Transfer and Innovation Managers (GeT-In) program. It consists of an economic development plan based on entrepreneurship, for San Luis Potosí and some neighboring municipalities.

The main objective of the Municipal Economic Development Plan is to achieve the economic development of the city of San Luis Potosí through measurable impact both economically and socially, using the strategies of commercialization of science and technology perfected with the Contributions from the GeTIn program, which was verified in Germany.

The creation of this plan was requested by representatives of the Ministry of Development Office of San Luis Potosí to the Marketing Coordination of the Knowledge Transfer Office of the Potosino Institute of Scientific and Technological Research (IPICYT) in mid-2015.

Activities in the context of PAP

San Luis Potosí is a metropolis with little more than one million inhabitants, has conurbation zones, a very convenient geographical position in the center of Mexico, as well as a semi-desert climate.

In San Luis Potosí there are just over 54 thousand economic units. According to the National Statistical Directory of Economic Units (DENUE, 2016), economic units are understood to be commercial or physical persons in the area.  Of these, 35% are registered as economic units with 0 to 5 employees and dedicated to retail trade. The high concentration of microenterprises and entrepreneurs in San Luis Potosí is an indicator of the industrious activity in the area.

San Luis Potosi has important research centers. One of them, IPICYT, manages five lines of research focused on the exact sciences: molecular biology, environmental sciences, applied geosciences, applied mathematics, and advanced materials. It also has four national laboratories: The National Supercomputing Center (CNS), the National Laboratory of Agricultural, Medical and Environmental Biotechnology (Lanbama), and the National Laboratory of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Research (Linan); As well as the new Research, Innovation and Development Center for the Dry Areas (CIIDZA), which recently opened at the end of last year. Today, more than 60% of IPICYT’s annual budget comes from own resources generated by the link with the companies.

On the one hand, the agents that make up the entrepreneurial ecosystem of Potosi are made up of business chambers, civil associations, Incubators, accelerators, universities and research centers; all driven by public policies and resources that have been operating together to promote innovation and economic development in San Luis Potosí for several decades. On the other hand, key pieces are lacking for the optimal functioning of the entrepreneurial ecosystem such resources such as investors, private capital groups, a greater culture of entrepreneurship and innovation and other sufficient specialized human resources to facilitate the process of innovation in companies and Potosino entrepreneurs.

In addition to the primary and secondary research acquired for the realization of the project, networks are also being created with companies, academia and industry experts to generate the best economic development strategies and policies that seek to follow the established guidelines for Smart cities. The work has required constant negotiations between the stakeholders and the work we did on the communication and networking issues during the GeT-In program have proven to be valuable tools for further development of the project as the it progresses to a standstill.

Thanks to the GeT-In program, we were able to meet again with Dr. Blanca García (The Northern Border College), an expert on knowledge society issues at the last Smart City Expo Puebla. We had the opportunity to exchange experiences and collaborate on the inclusion of San Luis Potosí in the K-City Benchmarking survey of the World Capital Institute.

…..Continued in Reporte CESOP No. 98 “Derechos Sociales en México”

The Winning Pitch: How Team Flipped Health Nailed the TVL Investment Competition

By Pitch Academy

We’re excited to announce that on February 5, 2015, our very own Flipped Health won the 2015 Texas Venture Labs Investment Competition!

Read on to find out what set Flipped Health’s pitch apart from the other teams to come out as champions with a $5,000 check…

On the 32nd anniversary of TVLIC, more than 20 startup companies pitched their business plans to a panel of some of the most notable venture capital investors and entrepreneurs in the industry, including partners from Austin Technology Incubator (ATI), Bunker Incubator, and PuraVida Ventures.

So, what set the winning team apart?

They told a story.

It was more than a presentation. It was an engaging story that followed a sequence. The most captivating stories always start off with a carefully crafted beginning – and this story was no exception!

Think you know what your beginning slide should look like? Think again. In order to reel the investors in, the very first slide began with the story of The Broken Vaccine Cold Chain. Contrast that title with the title of the original first slide they began with, The Dry Vaccine Process – does this get you excited about team Flipped Health and their solution?

This is the traditional beginning slide that most teams start off with, where the first words out of a speaker’s mouth are “Hello everyone, we are Team X…” effectively losing the audience, and likely, their chances at winning a chunk of cash.

But Flipped Health isn’t your average team, and neither is the solution they were trying to sell – after an overhaul by yours truly, the first slide in the deck started the story off with a bang:

We coached them to jump in with a relatable anecdote, emphasizing the “what is” to describe the current landscape with a personal example that all of the judges could identify with. After 30 gripping seconds, the speaker emphatically reinforced what the audience was now beginning to understand: “This is a scary and expensive problem.” After setting the baseline of “what is”, they moved on to describe “What could be” – their solution.

AriVax, a drug delivery platform that improves vaccine stability, reduces vaccine wastage, and enables delivery to emerging markets that can’t meet temperature-controlled supply chain (cold chain) requirements.

It was jargon-free.

One of the biggest mistakes made by high-tech teams is acting like they are presenting to other people who are deeply embedded in their respective industry – not investors who probably don’t know the first thing about vaccines and the issues surrounding the cold chain process. The visuals didn’t just get a makeover – the words did, too. Moral of the story? Lose the jargon, NOW.

They connected to the audience with a metaphor.

Here’s where the tried and true STAR method, comes in: drive a big idea home by giving the audience members Something They’ll Always Remember. We came up with a way to communicate the ease of the AriVax solution that shifted the momentum of the pitch and got a laugh from all of the investors… AriVax is easy as Kool-Aid!

Seamless transitions.

It may seem small, but every single speaker clearly announced topic shifts throughout the presentation. This served to make the overall pitch absolutely seamless.

By taking care to verbalize the movement to the next major part of the story, “I will now hand it off to Jason, who will explain the current need in the global market…”, Cheryl ensured that the judges would have no questions about where one topic began and ended.

Confident answers to every question.

With a total of 15-20 questions asked by investors, the presentation was comparable to an investigation. Investors probed into areas like cost breakdown, use case validation, alternative solutions to the one they were proposing, and valuation; at every turn, a team member was prepared with an analytical + emotive answer.

Straightforward slides.

We can’t stress how important it is to have clean, aesthetically appealing slides that communicate the key points – and only the key points. Flipped Health’s slides were strategically placed, easy to follow, and served to enhance the overall message.

All of the above strategies helped Flipped Health come out of the Texas Venture Labs Investment Competition with the 1st place spot, an automatic entry to Global TVLIC, a 1 year launch package at Austin Technology Incubator, and this giant check:

Congratulations again, Flipped Health!

The above points are some of the key aspects of Flipped Health’s pitch that propelled them to first place. We had a blast getting to coach this stellar team to success, and we hope the points we’ve described here will help you and your team achieve the results you want to see. Remember, it’s all about selling yourself AND your ideas, and you can count on us to keep you up-to-date with the latest communication insights and analysis on modern pitching strategies.

Find out how The Pitch Academy’s coaches can customize our innovative approach to get your ideas sold and your team funded – contact Melissa today!

Key Takeaways from the Texas MSTC Class of 2015

Just over a week ago, The University of Texas at Austin’s Master of Science in Technology Commercialization (MSTC) Program’s Class of 2015 walked across the stage to collect their diplomas from program director, Dr. Gary Cadenhead, and Dean Tom Gilligan of The McCombs School of Business.

Whether you ask our students, our faculty members, or our program staff, there is one answer that is identical across the board: MSTC is a whirlwind. Students start classes in early May, and just one year later they’re celebrating their completion of the program to the tune of “Pomp and Circumstance”.

Throughout our one-year business master’s degree program, our students learn a lot: a lot about business, a lot about innovation, a lot about each other, and–to be just a bit trite–a lot about life. With that in mind, we asked a handful of the members of the Class of 2015 to share with us their biggest takeaways from the Texas MSTC Program. We hope you enjoy their advice as much as we do!

MikeTulkoff“It is hard to believe that one year ago, I was waking up on a Sunday morning after launch week and thinking about how much there was to do. Now I’m up on Sunday morning thinking about how much we all have done. The best part of this program is all of the interaction between the students as well as between students and the fantastic faculty. I have learned a lot from all of them both inside and outside of class.

My key takeaways from the program are; recognize a market pain, figure out how to ease it, plan, plan, plan, and be persuasive. Throughout this year we have learned quite a few processes, tools, and frameworks that will suit us well going forward.”

-Mike Tulkoff, Independent Technology Consultant


“The MSTC program was tailored directly to my interests and within the team structure, we were able to hone those interests even further. I am now leagues more confident in my business knowledge and can speak about concepts both abstractly and tangibly with confidence. With the curriculum, classmates, faculty and the McCombs brand behind me, new opportunities have presented themselves, and I have been equipped to take advantage of them. Now I have a new job fusing technologies together to help other companies see their innovations to fruition in the market, and it is incredibly fulfilling. I think I appreciated my degree a thousand times more after talking through a product manufacturing flow a client on my first day at work and likewise as I help formulate the stories we will tell to market to prospective clients. It was a marathon of a year, but I am so glad I did it.”

-Karyl Fowler, Business Development Specialist, Novati Technologies


Jonathan Cartmill
“Reflecting on how I have changed over the past year, I recognize my presentation, oral and written communication skills have dramatically improved. I am a very outgoing individual and have no fear of public speaking but this program definitely expanded on my communication skills. I also notice I approach problems much differently than before. I have learned how to ask the right questions and how to think about challenges in ways that will help drive a positive outcome. The best part of the program, however, has been my classmates because they come from many walks of life and have different professional experiences that truly enriched my MSTC experience.”

-Jonathan Cartmill, Technical Sales Representative, National Instruments


RainyaMosher-HeadShot-BlackAndWhite“I did accomplish what I set out to do and have successfully transitioned from Engineering Management to Product Management. This program certainly helped me reposition my personal brand and make the transition far more easily than it otherwise would have been. The conversations I am able to have today regarding markets, pricing, and general “the idea is great, but will anyone pay for it?” (with accuracy, gusto, and confidence) would not have been possible a year ago. The network of my fellow MSTC Class of 2015 is the real gem, of course! I am thankful to have grown my network by 70 or so amazing people.”

-Rainya Mosher, Product Manager, Rackspace


Britt2“The Master of Science in Technology Commercialization (MSTC) program was a significant game-changer for me. I retired out of the Navy with a solid grounding in risk assessment, operations, and execution – both at the tactical and strategic level – but quickly realized I did not have the vocabulary and foundation that my civilian counterparts had regarding how the corporate side functions. The MSTC program was a perfect bridge to creating that foundation. The conversations, questions, and concepts that I partake in today would absolutely not have been possible without the focused, rigorous curriculum that The University of Texas McCombs School of Business assembled in the MSTC program. It is hard to believe the difference between how I approach problems now and how I approached problems on day #1 of the program.” 

-Britt Talbert, Senior Program Manager, GM


If you’re interested in learning more about the Texas MSTC Program, we invite you to explore our website and visit a class. We hope to see you on campus soon. Hook ’em!

MSTC Alumni Company ENTvantage Dx Makes Austin’s A-List

ENTvantageThe Austin Chamber of Commerce recently announced its 2015 Austin A-List, naming MSTC alumni company ENTvantage DX as one of the 12 most promising ventures in Austin.

ENTvantage DX, one of four winners in the A-List’s Emerging category, is led by President and CEO, Joe Skraba, member of the Texas MSTC Class of 2003. ENTvantage is a medical diagnostics company that provides primary care and ENT physicians with timely information on the cause of ear, nose, and throat illnesses with rapid, in-office diagnostic tests.

Chaired by the Austin Chamber’s Innovate Austin initiative and SXSW Interactive, the Austin A-List received over 275 nominations for this year’s list. Click here to read the full list of winners.