At this point, you’re 4.5 months into the fellowship. What’s been your favorite part?
May Paquete: My favorite part of the fellowship so far has been working with and learning from the other fellows. Since backgrounds are so different that I have learned so much random, fascinating and useful information from everyone.
Dan Hoff: I would say it has been the opportunity to meet and have open dialogues with some of the top minds in healthcare and in the business of innovation. The ability to not only learn from physicians, entrepreneurs, and patients, but also to share our own knowledge with these individuals has been deeply enriching and gratifying.
What's been most surprising about your experience?
MP: The most surprising part of the fellowship is how fast time flies! In the beginning it feels like you have so much time left in the year, and then a few months later it feels like time is quickly running out!
DH: Long before the fellowship, I came across an article by Guy Kawasaki in which he stated the danger of working in consulting is that "it leads you to believe that implementation is easy and insights are hard when the opposite is true in startups." Having previously worked for several years in consulting, I have kept this quote in mind and have been surprised at the extent to which its insight into the nature of startup life has been validated throughout the fellowship.
What does a typical day look like for the 2015-2016 class?
MP: There really is no average day. It is very much a create your own adventure job. That's actually something else that I really enjoy about the fellowship. Some times we are conferencing for weeks at a time, and other days we are shadowing providers at hospitals. However, most days we would work out of 1776 or Medstar's Innovation Lab.
DH: Most days we work together out of 1776 or the MedStar Institute for Innovation. While our required activities change on a daily basis, both spaces are well suited for open discussions and collaboration. We also spend a significant amount of our time talking to experts and thought leaders across the US and Canada, as well as in our own backyard of MedStar Health and the DC startup community.
Looking toward the months ahead, what are you most excited about?
MP: I am looking forward to the conferences that we have lined up for the rest of the year. I think we are going to learn a tremendous amount from entrepreneurs who have been in our position. I am also excited to begin to design and prototype some of our ideas!
DH: In the near term, I am most excited about identifying a true product-market fit within the many inspired ideas we have generated thus far. Coming to the program with both a technical and a business background, I also look forward to subsequently having an active role in the development and commercialization of our identified solution.
When you picture yourself a year from now, or even ten years from now, how do you think your experience with HFA will have impacted your path?
MP: The fellowship has dramatically changed the direction of my professional future. It had opened my eyes to so many different disciplines, and has allowed me to explore and build my skills in areas that I had never considered before the fellowship.
DH: The fellowship has connected me with multiple new and insightful mentors for which I am deeply appreciative of their guidance. Through both personal and professional conversations with these advisers, I have come to understand the many different paths one can take on their way to becoming a healthcare entrepreneur.