How to Turn a Mobile Health Application into a Real Business

Opinion

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these sectors produce a lot of short-term money and the products and services are almost always fads. If you want to build a real company, then solve a real medical problem and start, from day one, with a plan that works alongside the payers, providers, and physicians. That is where long-term money is made.

Hardware is OK! Well, this is a shift away from the traditional venture paradigm. The fact is that hardware development, like software development, is much cheaper and less risky than it was even five years ago. China has become an inexpensive design, manufacturing, and assembly powerhouse and companies like PCH International are actively helping startups get their design and manufacturing right the first time. It’s still risky though…just ask Jawbone.

Forget selling to corporations. Many startup founders still believe that large corporations can be a great customer or channel for health and wellness products. The idea is that this will help keep employees healthy and reduce absenteeism and insurance premiums. Well, I still haven’t heard which specific organization at IBM, United Airlines, or P&G has budget to buy this stuff and I find it hard to believe the ROI will be quantifiable. I’d focus valuable sales assets elsewhere.

The use of GPS receivers, cameras and accelerometers in the mobile device and the development of new health-related product sensors will enable consumers to greatly improve their health and wellness over the next decade. Although this sector is still in its infancy, there will undoubtedly be large markets for products that are easy to use and show results. The signal-to-noise ratio, as with other mobile applications in the app-stores, will still be very low, but this is a sector that venture capitalists, health care providers, insurance companies and physicians should be paying much more attention to. Entrepreneurs already are.

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Skip Fleshman is a Managing Partner at Asset Management Ventures, which has invested in Health 2.0 companies such as CardioDx, HealthTap, Lark, Proteus Biomedical, and Maverix. Follow @SkipFleshman

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