Last week the fellows were traveling again, Dan was completing his marathon in Vancouver (congrats Dan!!) and May, Amanda and I were attending the Collision Conference in New Orleans. The Collision conference brings together startup companies from diverse industries with investors and industry partners to foster “collisions” of innovation and growth. The fellows were able to meet and see speakers from healthcare, but in the same room were musicians from Maroon 5, NFL star Brandon Marshall and top venture capitalists.
I was a volunteer at the conference and it was a super fun experience. The other volunteers were also young professionals and it was great to hear their backgrounds. My job was to facilitate all of the small startup pitches. Meeting all of the teams was very insightful and it was also a very valuable experience to be able to talk to startups that had just started all the way through startups that were ten or fifteen years past their first round of funding.
One common thread between the startups was that they each had passion for their project. Some did not have well developed business plans, some had technical aspects that were definitely suspect, and some didn’t realize that their product was directly competing with much more established names, but throughout all of their pitches it was clear that they had a mission and a passion for the work they were doing. Talking to some of the older startup companies I learned that oftentimes the most successful startups began with glaring holes in their pitch, or underdeveloped aspects of their product, but that 90% of the entrepreneurial journey is execution and passion. I have no doubt that many of the startups I interacted with are well on their way to success, and it is very refreshing to see so much passion, especially in the healthcare space.
It is also worth noting that New Orleans is a very unique and cultured city. It was very fun to talk to the local population and hear some of the local music. May, Amanda and I tried crawfish, po’ boys, gumbo, hurricanes and beignets. The humidity took some getting used to, and there was a casual thunderstorm that crept up on us, but overall the trip was a lot of fun. The collision conference mirrored the types of connections that we try and make within Health for America.