Q&A: Health Wildcatters CEO talks top accelerator ranking and current startup trends

By Nicole Oran • April 6, 2016

Q&A: Health Wildcatters CEO talks top accelerator ranking and current startup trends

April 6, 2016 | Nicole Oran | MedCity News —

The Seed Accelerator Rankings Project (SARP), now in its fourth year, is designed to encourage a awareness about research and the seed accelerator surge. There are three rankings looking at accelerators nationwide.

Dallas-based Health Wildcatters made it into the group, being named the top from the Southwest. In an interview, the CEO and co-founder of the accelerator, Dr. Hubert Zajicek, shared about being included in SARP’s 2016 ranking as well as what kind of startups he believes are the most promising in the current healthcare arena.

Can you talk about some of the trends that Wildcatters is seeing, in terms of the companies that stand out or do particularly well moving forward after the program?

Number one when it comes to trends, we have quite a good amount of telehealth companies in our portfolio, but it is almost 50/50 between health IT and medical devices in the last batch of 10 companies. We went a little bit more into medical devices in the last cohort. Generally we have a good representation of digital health, and that will continue in the foreseeable future.

We’re seeing more of telehealth for mental health, more of a subcategory. Overall, considering what I saw at JP Morgan and just over the last few months, I think we will continue to see more innovation in the point-of-care diagnostic side. If we can get ourselves to think of the patient, the consumer, both from a convenience and a quality side. This is not traditionally the way healthcare is approached – thinking of the patient.

For some reason, I’m convinced that specialty pharmacy chains will continue to play an important roll with focusing on the patient.

Do you think some credibility with those chains has been tainted with recent news?

I don’t think that [the recent news] is that big of a deal. With something like Walgreens and Theranos and something on the cutting edge, there is a potential risk, as we’ve seen in that case.

When it comes to ER visits, for example, pharmacies have played a big roll in re-mediating primary care in a way. Telehealth has been a big help in that way, too. If you’re sick and at home. It’s a way for patients to save a lot of money and get input quickly.

What sets Wildcatters apart from other healthcare-focused accelerators?

There are not a ton of healthcare exclusive accelerators, maybe a dozen. Being called out as a top accelerator nationally certainly matters to us greatly. Now, Dallas is not really known for healthcare innovation, like Boston or San Francisco – people aren’t paying much attention to our neighborhood. But the truth is, growth is actually rapid. In this city, seven to 10 hospital systems are actually competing with each other for the healthcare consumer. There is a healthy dose of entrepreneurship and innovation.

In our case we really look at healthcare problems. Unlike some other accelerators, we aren’t just looking at software. We’ve looked at other models, and myself and the founders have decades of healthcare experience as physicians, so we are more interested in looking at healthcare problems that need to be solved – we aren’t afraid of looking at medical devices or even a pharma company if we think we can get it to the next level or get it funded. When we can do that, it’s a win-win for both the startups and our investors.

Luckily we have a large amount of mentors, many of which do work in the healthcare industry, so we are able to vet and bounce ideas back and forth very easily.

From your understanding, how did the ranking work when it came to SARP’s decision making?

They ranked the top 23 accelerators in the country, three of which are dedicated healthcare accelerators. Beyond us there is also Healthbox and Zero to 510. SARP tries to differentiate the top accelerators, but on the healthcare side, the amount is actually very small. A couple of the others chosen do actually have healthcare startups included, though. Based on geography and those on the list, we are the top healthcare accelerator in the Southwest.

This content appears as it was originally published on MedCity News.