Data Book details the demise of a dotcom startup and offers lessons for healthcare innovators.
Gail Zahtz was in New York when she got the call that no founder wants: The money had run out. She had to either sign on a new investor or watch her startup, a health-focused dotcom called Working Weekly, crumble. Soon enough, she was in Houston, meeting with a potential backer about a $5 million investment. They sat at a table, paperwork before them and lawyers at their sides, ready to ink the deal. And that’s when the financier’s lawyer got another horrible call: The Nasdaq had crashed.
That’s where we left you on the last episode of Data Book — with a burning cliffhanger that might have been a bit unfair. But we make amends this week, running full speed ahead with the story of Gail Zahtz and Working Weekly. Along the way, we analyze the death of the dotcom startup and attempt to draw lessons for today’s healthcare innovators.
If you haven’t listened to the first installment of this two-part series, we recommend you do. Check out that episode here.
Now for a quick refresher: Our story began in 1998 when Gail received almost $2 million in funding to jumpstart Working Weekly. It was the glory days of the dotcom boom, and founders like Gail really thought they were changing something — maybe even the world. Working Weekly was a digital-print-hybrid publication that covered all things workplace health. It was supposed to attract high-value readers and higher-value, long-term advertisers.
That was the idea, at least.
Things didn’t work out. But the life and death of Working Weekly were curious. They highlighted the ambition and optimism, the passion and risk, the innovation and ingenuity of a startup. Working Weekly, though different from today’s healthcare startups, shined a light on some lessons that may well apply to the innovators and decision-makers of 2019, whether they work for big health systems or small startups.
A big theme in this episode is risk. What drives healthcare leaders to make an impressive investment in data analytics or digital patient-engagement tools? And how about when a health system institutes a value-based payment model?
Well, if you ask Gail, she’ll respond with another question: Why would we be in something as important as healthcare if we weren’t willing to take risks to improve patients’ lives?
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