Innovator of the Week
Co-Founder & CEO of Calibrater Health
Please provide your 30-second pitch about your company.
Calibrater Health makes customer service software for healthcare. Healthcare today can be an opaque, confusing experience (for both doctors and patients), and we’re changing that.
We combine real-time mobile messaging with an algorithm that intelligently categorizes patient comments, to help healthcare organizations provide a fantastic experience and also keep their teams engaged. We make sure doctors never miss a chance to save an unhappy patient or improve their practice.
Who or what was your best resource for starting your company?
Without a doubt it’s been my co-founder Adam and my network of friends, entrepreneurs and business leaders. Building a company from the ground up is hard work, so it’s crucial to have people you can turn to for help, advice, or even as early customers.
Errik Anderson (co-founder of Compass Therapeutics, Adimab) in Hanover has been one of our biggest supporters and advisors; Jamie Coughlin of the Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Network (DEN) has been super helpful especially with local resources and introductions; Dr. Marcus Hampers, founder of ClearChoiceMD in New London and Gareth Dickens, co-founder of ConvenientMD in Portsmouth have also been fans of ours since the very early days.
On top of that I’d also say it’s been our respective experiences. Calibrater initially came from Adam’s insights researching patient reported data and experience at The Dartmouth Institute, and the years I’d spent building teams and products at two other successful startups allowed us to operationalize those ideas very efficiently and effectively.
Adam has invaluable front lines experience on both the clinical and operational side of healthcare delivery, and together we can take the things he’s learned there and turn them into useful, value-creating products for our customers. It’s a fantastic combination.
What was your biggest obstacle in starting your company and how did you overcome it?
I think the biggest obstacle is the early transition going from idea into action, and building the first product. It’s fun to talk about new ideas and opportunities and how exciting it will be when they change everything, but the daily grind and ambiguity of creating something out of nothing can be incredibly exhausting mentally. Plus the numbers tell us the odds are stacked against the entrepreneur! I’ve seen a lot of people stall at that stage either because they can’t figure out practical next steps or because they’re scared to take them.
The emotional resilience required to keep forging ahead day after day — amid setbacks, naysayers, competitors, all while resource constrained — shouldn’t be underestimated. That said, if you can get through that initial phase and create a product that provides value, improves people’s lives and win those first few customers, it’s one of the most rewarding feelings there is.
What’s the best advice you have received?
Errik Anderson once shared a piece of advice with me that he’d gotten from an older Dartmouth alum, which was: if you want something, just go get it. You may not be sure how to get there today, but there’s no better way to figure it out than to just do it.
And come to think of it, Bill Maris, the managing partner of Google Ventures, once told me a similar thing about starting a company. Bill and I both went to Middlebury College just across the border in Vermont, and he told me, “You can be in the boat next to the guy swimming across Lake Champlain, and you can learn an awful lot by watching – but you’re never going to know what it’s like to swim across that lake for yourself unless you jump in and swim.”
What about the NH lifestyle appeals to you?
In addition to great economic benefits (no income tax, consistently rated one of the most entrepreneurially friendly states in the nation), I’d say it’s the balanced lifestyle, and the supportive and growing startup communities.
Having such easy access to amazing outdoor resources for every season — whether it’s biking, skiing, hiking, running, kayaking, whatever — is an incredible way to work off stress, but also keep perspective on the tougher days.
But people and entrepreneurs choose to live here for a reason, and as a result it makes for a strong, celebratory community. Whether it’s publications like Live Free and Start, events like Rise of the Rest last Fall in Manchester, or the great programming and co-working communities at places like the DEN and Alpha Loft, New Hampshire supports and celebrates its local startups and companies.
What does the future look like for your company?
We’ve been focused largely on the booming urgent care industry until now, but this year we’re excited to be talking to hospitals and other larger systems about how we can improve care in these complex organizations as well.
There are huge opportunities to improve healthcare delivery up and down the spectrum of organization size, and we’re excited to be helping with that. We’ll be announcing a few exciting pilots with large hospitals soon — stay tuned!