Editor's note: This is a guest post by Timo Ahopelto. He is an entrepreneur and founding partner at Lifeline Ventures.
Health is the only industry not transformed by Web. Health is 10% of our GDP. It is more important to us personally than we realize. It is a massive opportunity for entrepreneurs to apply what already works in social web, mobile and consumer electronics.
First, the future of medical devices is in “fashionable, wearable design and integrating that into a social, connected experience” – as put by the Jawbone CEO for Wired Magazine after releasing the first news on his loudspeaker company moving into health this year. Earlier, Jawbone reported $49 million and $70 million rounds from Andreesen Horowitz and J.P. Morgan to open the new business area in health. These are all serious people.
At the same time, electronics manufacturers like Sony – who trade at or below 1x P/S - desperately need to expand out of the commodity markets such as mp3 players and alike. If I was Medtronic, Roche or J&J with my beige-colored bulky blood glucose meters and abnormally high profit margins, I would be seriously thinking what to do next. For entrepreneurs who turn health into consumer electronics there are fortunes to be made and masses of people to be cured. In Finland and at Lifeline Ventures we have two great lifestyle medtech examples: Valkee bright light headset and Mendor who just announced a $ 10 million funding round.
Second, web will transform health. Last month, ZocDoc added $50 million to the previously raised $19 million to enable people to book doctor appointments online. Yes, you read it correctly – this has not been done by anyone else before. Health is full of opportunities like this, in B-to-B and B-to-C , for entrepreneurs to enable transformational changes to the currently ineffective healthcare system operating in silos.
Third, health will become social. Health and Web today equal to information sites like WebMD. Since the last dotcom boom, there have not been any big stories in social health. The best we have are online patient support communities like PatientsLikeMe.com but they have - while doing an invaluable job for rare diseases – failed in becoming mainstream. I believe that Web can ultimately turn the shame of being sick into a fame of being smart to take care of oneself, and being ready to express it online.
In summary: health is the next big thing for entrepreneurs to go after. For entrepreneurs who understand social and design, it is worth considering. It is an area where you can have a big impact instead of founding another company to another already packed segment. “Medicine needs a design renaissance”, like put by Massive Health, a company backed by stellar investors to turn health into something you desire online.
Image by US Mission Geneva