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Stop Selling Yourselves as Blockchain Companies


Why one venture capitalist is becoming frustrated with startups that push technology over problem-solving.

At HIMSS 2018, a lot of the buzz was around buzzwords themselves. Concepts like artificial intelligence and machine learning have increasingly drawn backlash for their perceived overuse, while new entries have emerged—namely, blockchain.

Certainly, a good number of people at the annual megaconference are high on the technology behind those terms. Anya Scheiss, a co-founder and partner at the venture capital firm Healthy Ventures, isn’t as enthusiastic.

In an interview with Healthcare Analytics News™ this week, Scheiss explained her feelings on blockchain and machine learning, and advised health startups looking for her investment to have proof that their technology solves a problem, not just that it exists.

“No More Selling Yourself as a Blockchain Company”

So many companies use the buzzwords “machine learning” or “blockchain.” “Big data” sort of was the “machine learning” before “machine learning.”

My perspective is I that care what you do. if you are a company that is solving a supply chain problem and it turns out that blockchain is the best way to solve that problem, perfect. If you’re a blockchain company I'll invest in you, but not because you’re a blockchain company.

If you are a company that is looking at serializing EMR data, and you say ‘Okay, but I'm using blockchain,” to me…You don't need blockchain to serialize EMR data. And by the way, it's computationally incredibly expensive. In that way, not only is it an inappropriate use of technology, it's an inappropriate use of a buzzword and it's an inappropriate use of resources.

I get really annoyed when companies try to sell me on the “how” when really I should be sold on the “what.” Cnce you've convinced me on the “what,” then we can have a

discussion on the “how,” and if it’s the right way to do it.

I would say no more “machine learning”—and by the way, if you've ever written an “if-then” statement in Excel, congratulations, you know machine learning. And no more selling yourself as a blockchain company, which, as far as I'm concerned, is a new database structure. It's great for a lot of different applications but it is not the be-all end all, next wave of things.

I would just really focus on how you are going to build a defensible business, and not focus on all of these different buzzwords.

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