At some point in their development, all young companies fantasize about hooking up with a Big Strategic Partner. The team spends time googling those companies’ “About” pages hoping that they will know someone on the Board or one of the Advisors – or even an occasional employee high enough in the organization to crack open a door. Of course, this is usually an exercise in futility, but it never quite moves off the agenda of the young company’s weekly meetings. You know startup entrepreneurs…they dream big!


Health XL at Stanford

So, I was excited to learn about Health XL, an organization that specializes in linking young companies with established companies (aka: Strategics). Thanks to Lisa Suennen, the Venture Valkyrie, I was able to meet Martin Kelly, the CEO. He invited us to do some video interviews at the HealthXL Moonshot meeting on the Stanford University campus.

[Here’s a link to the video.]

Over the summer, Martin and his team interviewed more than 300 young companies across the globe before inviting 150 of them to apply to attend the Moonshot meeting. The list was winnowed down to 21 companies who were invited to meet with the 11 Strategics that Health XL collaborates with – some of the biggest names in healthcare:

  1. IBM
  2. GSK
  3. Novartis
  4. Silicon Valley Bank
  5. ICON
  6. BUPA
  7. Janssen
  8. Cleveland Clinic
  9. ResMed
  10. Partners Healthcare
  11. Linde Health

The idea was to bring the companies together (the young’uns and the established ones) to see if they could find ways to tackle big problems, the Moonshots) such as behavioral change, big data, and connected health.


A Matchmaker and a Priest

Martin says, “We are both a matchmaker and a priest. We don’t want to just put them together. We want to help them get married and move on in the relationship. We are trying to get them to create something specific…to drive new solutions.”

The Strategics come with problems they want to solve and match with entrepreneurs who can help. Ideas and projects come from the entrepreneurs.

The companies had more than 80 one-one-one meetings over two days. Some of them moved to the stage of “first date” (but not all the way to marriage. Martin hopes that, in about a month, the partnerships will be defined. We can’t wait to do a follow-up.



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