#13: How To Grow Your Health Tech Startup The Lean Way with Dwight French

Dwight French really knows the healthcare industry. His work with entrepreneurs and healthcare organizations has given him a deep understanding of trends happening in health tech.

Though he got his degree in technology, he now specializes in helping health tech startups thrive through business development. His knowledge of business growth and customer perspective makes him an invaluable resource for innovators.

Though Dwight has tons of experience, he brings much more than that to the table. He understands the pulse of the industry - what innovations are really making a difference and what role startups play in changing healthcare.

Join us as Dwight shares his insights into health tech, startups, and everything in between.

Dwight French Business Development

Where he got his start

It all started in high school when his mom enrolled him in a regional occupation program, a program that began his lifelong interest in technology. At that point he didn’t know just how much of a difference technology could make in people’s lives.

In the 90s his job gave him exposure to health tech. The more he learned about it, the more he wanted to be a part of it. He was drawn to the electrifying atmosphere where innovation was changing people’s lives.

How experience set him up for success

Curiosity fueled Dwight’s work with startup successes. Although his college degree was in programming, he always wanted to work in the business side.

Not only did he understand the technology, but he also sought to understand the customer. He wanted to know why they bought.

Beyond that, he wanted to know how they used the technology - how it solved their problems and influenced their company. Along the way he learned a lot from the school of hard knocks but still came out with a wealth of knowledge.

How startups influenced his approach to marketing

As he worked with companies dedicated to innovation, his curiosity was piqued. What makes one business successful and another not? Are there any ways to predict success?

So he started studying business growth. He realized that startup growth follows somewhat of a trend. And to keep that growth going, he needed to know how to get them to the next step in that curve.

Thinking in terms of steps is how he helps companies. If they understand where they are in the growth pattern, they optimize growth.

This definitely affects marketing. If companies don’t know where they are in the growth trend, they won’t have the correct trajectory for their marketing. Startups need to tweak their marketing strategy based on their position of growth.

Using opportunity stories to fuel startup funding

Startups need funding, and that’s where Dwight comes in. He knows how to optimize messaging to get funds for startups. Along the way, he’s learned that funders and investors care most about opportunity stories.

Investors want to know how your product is gaining traction in the industry and how it’s changing the playing field. Startups need to use opportunity stories to craft solid marketing strategies and influence investors.

When it comes to fundraising, startups should think of it in rounds. Each round must reach a new target audience based on where you are in the growth trend. As you cater your marketing to this pinpointed audience, you can expect to see more growth.

Sparking change without getting bogged down

Dwight acts as a liaison between two parties that struggle to relate to one another - entrepreneurs and healthcare. Entrepreneurs have great ideas that can change healthcare for the better. But healthcare systems don’t embrace change quickly.

Even though healthcare needs disruption, entrepreneurs don’t understand how to deal with this fragmented machine. In the end, both sides have to be willing to listen to each other.

This isn’t easy though. Stakeholders don’t see why they should have to listen to newbies. And on the flip side, entrepreneurs don’t understand why healthcare is so slow to change.

So Dwight bridges the gap. While fully aware healthcare needs the disruption these entrepreneurs bring, he helps entrepreneurs approach healthcare with understanding.

Turning a company into a smarketing success

Health tech companies need to integrate marketing and sales. This means changing business culture to allow a natural buildup between marketing and sales.

Dwight illustrated it this way. Basketball teams give each player a position to fill. But during a game, everyone ends up filling different roles. They know their roles, but they switch roles fluidly as needed.

Marketing and sales need to do the same thing. They need be on the same team filling in for each other where needed. Both need to be focused on the same goal - closing sales for satisfied customers.

Creating a smarketing culture

Creating this smarketing culture is easier said than done. It comes from the top down. As CEOs and founders encourage sales and marketing teams to interact, gradually the culture shifts.

The great thing about startups is that they operate with a clean slate. As startups hire employees, they can focus on hiring people who are on board with smarketing and who can implement smarketing concepts get the job.

The hiring process impacts more than sales and marketing though. It actually lays the groundwork for future growth. If startups don’t want to slow down, they need to be thinking 2-3 steps ahead when hiring.

How startups can get funding for their great ideas

In early stages, startups need lean strategies to get ahead. This is never more true than in the area of fundraising. Without funding, tech ideas will never make it beyond the shelf.

This is why startups really must understand what problem they’re solving. They need to be able to clearly articulate (to buyers and investors alike) the great need for their solution.

It’s vital that they envision who their buyer is. They should delve into their customer’s world and study how their idea can integrate into a buyer’s organization. They especially need to consider how their product will affect workflow.

Startups also need to know what problem they’re really solving. Many startups think they understand the customer’s problem when they really don’t. Before launching a product, they need to articulate these three things:

  • What is the real problem my customer faces?

  • How can my tech solution cut out whole industry sectors?

  • How can I help healthcare lower costs and improve quality?

Until startups answer these questions, they’re not ready to launch a new product and they’re not ready to fundraise. Investors want to see that you’re solving the problems customers want solved.

Common pitfalls when implementing lean tactics

A common problem with tech entrepreneurs is that they don’t look beyond the technology. Customers, on the other hand, don’t really care about the tech specs. They have real problems that need real solutions.

Plus, not defining your solution creates problems for you. Until you know what problem you solve, you can’t know your total adjustable market.

If startups don’t take time to understand customer problems and to communicate how their product solves the problem, customers won’t buy.

When trying to understand your total adjustable market, perfection is the enemy of progress. Startups are unique because they have to move fast in order to stay alive. Analysis has to be done fast enough to propel growth forward.

As you conduct market analysis, you need to be looking past your next growth point. Your current analysis should prepare you for current and future growth.

Actionable tip

Make it easy for customers to communicate the value of your product to their board - what problems it solves and how it will help them grow.

Make yourself an expert at solving your customer’s problem. Know as much about their problem as you do about the technology you create.

Don’t just solve their problems though. Give them a view of how you can help them reach their “promised land.” Lay out the barriers that are keeping them from getting there. Then show them how you can remove the barriers.

Must-read book

Dwight shared a book that does a fantastic job explaining our broken system - The CEO’s Guide to Restoring the American Dream. Dwight said this book alone will help intentional entrepreneurs go a long way in health tech.

It’ll help you realize how many opportunities there are for disruption in the health industry. And that’s what we need - more disruptions. Because the more that innovations disrupt the health ecosystem, the more progress we’ll see in healthcare.

Want to connect with Dwight? Find him here:

LinkedIn - Dwight French


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