Introducing the MATTER Curriculum

December 22, 2014

By Maryam Saleh, MATTER Director of Member Experience

This fall, the MATTER team held a number of curriculum design sessions with the entrepreneurial community — 30 hours in all — to discuss the key challenges in getting healthcare technology startups off the ground. Special thanks to Chicago Health 2.0 organizers Subbu Arumugam and Jasmin Phua, and MATTER Mentor-in-Residence Jordan Dolin, who significantly contributed to these sessions. Based on the insights from these sessions, we developed a curriculum of 10 tracks designed to address the most common pitfalls for healthcare startups. Following are descriptions of the 10 tracks.

Track 1: Is your technology solving a problem and for whom?
Many startups start their path with a hot technology that doesn’t really solve a problem for their target customer. This track will include workshops on how to identify the problem and, once identified, how to pitch the story to an investor. iBIO’s PROPEL will be contributing to the content with workshops in this track. Teachers include Booth Professor Waverly Deutsch, Northwestern Professor David Gatchell and medical device entrepreneur Avi Roop.

Track 2: Understanding stakeholders in healthcare and new models of care
Startups often fail to create value for the key stakeholders. These workshops will address problems that matter to different stakeholders in healthcare. Teachers include Leslie Wainright and Eric Jensen from AVIA, Anna Haghooie, managing director at Sandbox Industries, Andrew Turitz, managing director at Healthagen, and MATTER Mentor-in-Residence Richard Ferrans.

Track 3: Market-driven product design and development
Workshops will emphasize the importance of customer validation by teaching the Lean Launchpad methodology to product and business model design. Medical device and software development veterans will also discuss what it means to develop products in a regulated environment, under quality systems. Teachers include Lilli Zakarija, co-founder of EdgeOneMedical; Steve McPhilliamy, partner at InsightPD; Bernhard Kappe, founder of Pathfinder Software and Chirag Patel, director of software development at ContextMedia.

Track 4: 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration
We often hear about equity disputes between shareholders, even before the company is officially incorporated. These workshops are designed to emphasize that the bulk of a business’s value is not in the idea but in the execution and ability to build a team to execute on the plan. Teachers include Emmi Solutions Founder and MATTER Mentor-in-Residence Jordan Dolin, and PeopleFoundry Founder Michelle Joseph.

Track 5: Your projections are wrong: topics in forecasting and financing
Workshops will address some basics in entrepreneurial finance. Professors Steve Kaplan and Scott Meadow from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business will cover the material, along with the CFO from Emmi Solutions, John Starr.

Track 6: Go-to-market strategy and sales into health systems
Selling to health systems is not as easy as posting your app in the Apple Store. It’s often difficult to find the right decision maker. Even when you’ve found the individual, do you have the right story to get their attention? How can you score a pilot at a hospital? These are all topics that will be covered by our teachers: medical device entrepreneur Eric Sandberg and Acquirent Founder Joe Flanagan.

Track 7: Clinical trial design and implementation
Setting the right endpoints for your clinical study is critical to your success. Medical device entrepreneur Shawn McCarthy will share his past challenges and learnings with clinical trial design and implementation. Chicago Innovation Mentors will be contributing to this track as well, with a speaker series on the topic.

Track 8: The FDA is your friend
Drug, device, and often software development in healthcare is subject to regulatory controls. This track hopes to familiarize entrepreneurs with the key time points along their commercialization path when they should be considering a consultation with the FDA. The workshops also provide case studies where entrepreneurs can learn about how to position their product and studies as they have these conversations. Joe Braido and Jerzy Wojcik from EdgeOne Medical and CIM mentors will contribute to these workshops.

Track 9: Who’s going to pay for this?
While most first-time entrepreneurs consider the date they’ll need to get an indication for use approved by the FDA, few carefully think through their reimbursement and coding strategies, and how they might go about setting up a study to collect the necessary data. These workshops will focus on coding basics and reimbursement. iBIO’s PROPEL will be contributing to this track with their workshops.

Track 10: The fine print: legal topics in healthcare
Topics discussed in this class will include walking through a financing contract (eg. convertible debt agreement), a shareholder’s agreement, the steps to become HIPAA compliant (taught by attorneys from Breuer, Drinker Biddle & Reath) and understanding the patenting process & licensing of intellectual property (taught by the Licensing Executives Society). IBIO’s PROPEL will be contributing to this track with their workshops.
MATTER will also have specialized workshops on product design and development that take place in the Workshop, Interaction Studio and Stage – our prototyping and simulation environments.

The curriculum will kick off with a half-day event where teachers and our mentors-in-residence will engage in a discussion with MATTER entrepreneurs on the current landscape in which they are hoping to innovate and what challenges they may face along the way. We will also review the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s Triple Aim as a guide for framing a product’s impact on the healthcare system. The three aims are: (1) improving patient experience (through quality and satisfaction of services), (2) improving the health of populations, and (3) reducing the per capita cost of healthcare.

MATTER workshops will be interactive, pragmatic, and delivered from multiple perspectives to maximize their utility for entrepreneurs. Watch the website for more information on MATTER programming coming soon. For questions or to sign up, email us at