LAUNCH Festival

Original photo: Cristian Liu

The following is a guest post by Cristian Liu, a healthcare strategist with in-depth experience in international services, technology and government sectors. Cristian is passionate about the intersection of technology, entrepreneurship and social innovation. Follow him on Twitter.

Three days of demos, pitches, and inspirational talks.  $100,000 invested into a hackathon company. Crowd-sourced funding with virtual dollars to get a sense of who the most popular companies were. “What incredible event was this?” one might ask?  The only one that it could be is this years Launch Festival hosted by Jason Calacanis & Launch in San Francisco from March 4-6, 2013.

While the Launch Festival has always been a hotbed of startup activity ( and Yammer were both launched at prior festivals), this year’s event seemed to have a little bit of a different take on entrepreneurship than previous years.  One only needed to look at at the headline sponsor of this year’s event,  The Social+Capital Partnership to get a sense of what I am alluding to.  Throughout the talks, presentations, and pitches, one of the reinforcing themes throughout the event was the concept of “impact.”  What “impact” is your organization going to have, and at what scale.  Several times during the fireside chats the speakers touched on the idea that financial returns are no longer enough – entrepreneurs would be well severed to look beyond the monetary consequences of entrepreneurship.  I’m thrilled to see entrepreneurship taking a more prominent world in impact and excited to see how it develops.

In line with the impact aspect, there were several healthcare related startups present at Launch Festival despite the fact it occurred at the same time as HIMSS.  Three healthcare related companies caught my attention during the event and they were also conveniently situated in adjacent booths: referralMD, Open Placement, and Cloud2Health.

  • referralMD: Securely exchange web based physician referral letters online without the hassle of paper and fax. Track referral quantity and quality without spreadsheets.
  • Open Placement: OpenPlacement seeks to become the standard in the transition of care. The platform is currently deployed across the Bay Area. The team went through Rock Health‘s fourth class in San Francisco in 2013.
  • Cloud2Health: cloud2health curates data from consumer’s mobile health & fitness apps (“HAPPS”), along with traditional medical data, providing secure, interactive and predictive rules and recommendations via cloud2health’s proprietary Ensa Engine.

One concerning tidbit that kept bugging me throughout the weekend as I was keeping up with tweets from HIMSS and Launch simultaneously related to the discussion of technology adoption.  During Launch, the idea of interacting with customers through a mobile and tablet interface was a no brainer.  Indeed, some of the judging panels were already talking about how startups could leverage Google Glass technology (even though it’s not available for consumers yet).  The sense I got from HIMSS was that healthcare is still stuck on this idea of getting people to access technology via web browsers.  It concerns me that human-computer interface technology in the high-tech world is two generations of devices ahead of healthcare.  There are great organizations working to bridge the gap between the two, and I’ve got my fingers crossed that it’ll be enough.

To find out more about the Launch Festival or check out the recorded content from the event, check out some of the included links below.


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