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These 3 Startups Are Looking to Get the Health Industry in Tip-Top Shape

With the health-care sector going through massive innovation and disruption, we wanted to get the skinny on what it was like working on a startup in this industry.
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In the midst of a health-care startup boom, founders are turning to Blueprint Health Co-Work, a downtown Manhattan incubator, to get their startups in tip-top shape. 

Founded three years ago by friends Dr. Brad Weinberg and Mathew Farkash, the duo decided to launch Blueprint Health Co-Work as a resource for fledgling entrepreneur who don't have access to a structured space or mentors. And while these incubators can play pivotal roles in any industry, they are especially beneficial for health-care startups, as they often aren't able to secure enough capital to last through the sector's typically long sales cycles. 

Now with more than 160 medical and business mentors on tap, Blueprint Health Co-Work members are working to aid in lowering healthcare costs, increasing revenue in the industry and improving the population’s health.

Besides having access to these mentors, members also get to utilize the 12,000 square-foot space, along with high-speed internet, printers, conference room, lectures and leisure activities, like ping-pong tables. But these amenities come at a pretty penny. Monthly memberships start at $250 and can go up to $1,250.

We asked three different health-care startups at Blueprint Health Co-Work what it was like starting a venture in today's world. Here are their edited responses:

Related: Lean Startup Lessons for Healthcare Businesses

Co-founders of Board Vitals Andrea Paul and Dan Lambert

Andrea Paul and Dan Lambert
Co-founders, Board Vitals

Internist Andrea Paul and software developer Dan Lambert launched Board Vitals to help medical practitioners more effectively study for their specialty board exams. The startup gathers medical education materials and inserts them in a crowd-source question bank to help doctors learn the most relevant information and earn higher scores. Currently, 10 of the 35 board exams can be found in the question bank.

Q: What drew you to this industry?
A: When I was preparing for my own boards, I was putting together things from other books and notes that were not up to date. (Andrea)

Q: What resources have helped you the most in starting up?
A: Mentors, advisors and my business partner Dan Lambert, who has provided me tremendous support and advice. Questions about navigating sales channels, fundraising and PR were the most helpful to us. (Andrea)

Q: What is your best advice for fellow entrepreneurs looking to get started in this industry?
In healthcare right now, there are major changes going on with the Affordable Care Act. As with other regulatory shifts, understanding the implications of Obamacare and other healthcare changes and being prepared to adapt and excel in this challenging and changing environment will be key. (Andrea)

Related: Richard Branson on Business Ideas in the Growing Health-and-Wellness Industry

Founder of WellTrackONE Peter Bechtel

Peter Bechtel
Founder, WellTrackONE

After reading through the Affordable Care Act -- all 974 pages -- three-time health-care entrepreneur Peter Bechtel came across a code requiring physicians to perform an annual wellness visit for every Medicare patient. That means doctors would have to check a patient’s functional ability, safety, cognition and possible depression symptoms every year. Bechtel didn’t believe busy physicians would possibly have time to conduct these appointments and then input the answers into Medicare software. So he launched WellTrackONE, a service that allows physicians to schedule and document results of all wellness visits.

Q: What drew you to this industry?
A: Healthcare has a lot of innovations. With one act being passed, the cap blew off the kettle and entrepreneurs are seeing chances to make healthcare more efficient.

Q: What resources have helped you the most in starting up?
A: Having a team comprised of experienced business and medical people. We got bootstrapped to handle the first customers. We never lost a customer, and we get four to five new contracts a week.

Q: What is your best advice for fellow entrepreneurs looking to get started in this industry?
A: Become an expert in healthcare and become empathetic. See the problem through the eyes of the customers. 

Related: Entrepreneurs at ZocDoc Say They Can Solve a Major Obamacare Concern

Co-founders of ReferBright Brett Larkin and David Murray

Brett Larkin and David Murray
Co-founders, ReferBright

After Brett Larkin and David Murray met on FounderDating, an online co-founder website, they began working full time on ReferBright, a digital marketing platform that helps practitioners boost their online presence by constantly updating referral websites such as Citysearch, Angie’s List and Zeel with their qualification and accepted insurances.

Q: What drew you to this industry?
A: I saw firsthand how much health practitioners of all kinds -- from yoga teachers to massage therapists to nutritionists -- needed referrals to survive. These people usually don't know how to effectively market themselves online and don't enjoy this kind of work, yet referrals are the lifeblood of their business. (Brett)

Q: What resources have helped you the most in starting up?
A: Our resources were each other. We wouldn’t have been able to get into Blueprint if we weren’t together. We also had the help of our investor Larry Braitman [founder of Flycast Communications], our mentors Charles Huang [Vice President of Equity Healthcare at The Blackstone Group] and Sandeep Pulim at Blueprint. (Brett)

Q: What is your best advice for fellow entrepreneurs looking to get started in this industry?
A: Find the burning hair on fire problem and find what to do to solve the problem. Don’t get attached to the product but always pay attention to the problem. Get a co-founder and understand healthcare. Get a co-founder that understands healthcare deeply if you don’t understand it yourself deeply. Otherwise, go to an accelerator to make sure a startup idea is not hypothetical. (Brett)

Related: A Guide to Matchmaking Sites for Co-Founders