Steve Telburn — the Managing Director of Secret Sauce IP Ventures — is an accomplished tech entrepreneur, having started up and assisted multiple early-stage companies as a CEO through to successful exits. After studying life sciences at university, he worked in the IT department of Telstra where he was responsible for connecting the Telstra team with the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, thus facilitating advances in cancer detection. Steve is a technology executive with a genuine desire to help navigate the challenges of commercialising and launching healthtech start-ups.

In this episode, Steve and Yianni discuss innovation opportunities within the healthcare industry and some key things to keep in mind to ensure that a start-up idea is validated and investor-ready. They also consider key drivers impacting the future of healthcare, how innovation can be resourced creatively within the sector and four useful perspectives to look for in any founder set.

Key takeaways:

  1. People within a research environment may intellectually see an issue that needs to be solved, but the problem may be different in the industry. The ideal founder set is a mix of people who have come out of a particular industry with direct experience, combined with people who have been down the start-up track before and who know the process.
  2. It’s common for start-ups to become fixated on solving a particular problem in a particular way and miss the broader opportunity to develop a solution that the customer would love.
  3. The investor is always asking, “How do we get confidence that this problem actually matters, that people will buy it, that this is the right team to deliver it, and that this business can scale?”
  4. Investors want to see the big blue sky platform opportunity across industries. But start-ups need to prove that their solution works and is focused. The risk with big platform opportunities is that you get distracted trying to be all things to all people.
  5. Hold off from building anything before answering the questions: “Does this solution work? Does the problem matter outside of the lab and in the industry? Will somebody pay for it? What is the value that’s being created and how does that translate in terms of pricing?”
  6. One of the current key difficulties in health is around data and trust. Do consumers trust the government with their data and how do we resolve that? The enhanced availability of data could open up improvements to healthcare.


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