To test your business plan at its earliest stages, you have to find early adopters. Early adopters are the potential customers who have the problem you intend to solve, have tried to solve it on their own, and are willing and able to purchase a solution if one can be built. For medical device startups, true early adopters also have experience shepherding new products through the provider process (e.g. hospital purchasing and CFO) and payor process (e.g specialty coding committee and Medicare). Consequently, only early adopters are able to provide value-added feedback to the lean medical device startup. How do you find them?
The confluence of cheap computing power, cheap memory, and cheap bandwidth has fueled the emergence of web 2.0 companies like Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, and foursquare. Because software-based-products are inherently extensible and mutable, these web 2.0 startups have rethought the concept of the product lifecycle, enabling their web-based products to evolve new capabilities monthly, weekly or even daily. (Contrast that to the less-than-annual releases of Microsoft Office.)
In turn, this rethinking of the product lifecycle has spurred dramatic changes to the way these companies and products are formed, financed, and managed. The term Lean Startup captures the philosophy and practices of this new way of thinking. Despite the relative immutability and non-extensibility of most medical devices, we can find ways to apply Lean Startup concepts to medical device startups. In a previous post, I discussed the Lean Startup concept of Product/Market fit in the context of medical devices. Now that we have defined Product/Market fit, the question is “how do we get there?”