Entrepreneur

Tigerlabs launches startup accelerator to bring healthcare industry to life

The health-care industry needs treatment. Massive organizations dominate the industry, bogged down in bureaucracy, slow to iterate, and attached to costly, outdated systems.

Startups have tried and struggled to cut into incumbent health-care providers, insurance companies, and pharmaceutical corporations. Tigerlabs gives them the scalpel.

Tigerlabs is a three-month accelerator program located in Princetown, N.J., in the middle of the “Pharmaceutical Corridor.” The founders are now accepting applications for the Winter 2013 session, which starts in February. Participating entrepreneurs receive $20,000 in seed funding as well as work space, mentorship, product discounts, and access to professional seminars.

“This is a green field ripe for disruption,” said founder Bert Navarrete. “The incumbents are all integrated with these old legacy systems that make it hard to innovate. We are going to leverage our connections and relationships with leading hospitals, the pharmaceutical industry, and medical executives to create a program with a lot of cross-education. Startups will be educating big companies, and big companies will be telling startups about their pain points.”

Developments in technology also affect change. The proliferation of cloud-based services and smartphones makes it easier for deliver new applications to patients, and this opens up opportunities for interaction between consumers, startups, and the incumbents.

Although the big guys have expressed openness to evolving, Navarrete believes it’s ultimately it is up to the consumer.

“The catalyst will come from the ultimate end user,” he said. “Like many other things where you see massive disruption from legacy incumbents, it is the consumer that drives most of the behavior. When doctors demand easier ways to communicate to their patients, and people take greater control over their health-care, then there will be change.”

Navarrete is a Princeton local who spent his career working in venture finance for firms like Merrill Lynch and the Internet Capital Group. He started down this path by creating a work space for entrepreneurs in Princeton who were forced to work in “Panera, the grad school library, or a corner sublet in an architecture studio.”

His initial efforts to galvanize the local startup community combined with repeated conversations with the medical community about their pain points inspired him to start Tigerlabs. The program is open to a wide range of ventures within the health-care IT space, including mobile health, software as a service, disease management, “big data,” diagnosis engines, communication and payment tools, and virtual care.

Tigerlabs will consider applications ranging from solo founders with an idea to established companies seeking a go-to-market boost. Navarrete even anticipates getting some medical executives who are tired of operating in a broken system and looking for a change.

Launching a new startup … the latest way to have a mid-life crisis.


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