[Editorial] Reflections: Five Years of Healthcare.mn Leadership Weighs In

Reflections: Five Years of Healthcare.mn Leadership Weighs In

As we celebrate our 5-year anniversary at Healthcare.MN, we invited the organization’s leaders over the last five years to share their experiences in discovering, building, and growing the organization.


The Founders: Thompson – Solome – Pete

Some cold January night 2013, Thompson, Solome and Pete were at a health event and Pete sent a group text asking if they wanted to start a healthcare group. The idea had been brewing for a while and Pete had this cool domain *Healthcare.mn*. At the time, access to Minnesota’s entrepreneurial healthcare network was lower and opportunities to network with local healthcare innovators were limited. On January 14, 2013 Pete set up the Healthcare.mn Meetup account and we had our first gathering at WildeRoast a few weeks later with about 30 attendees.

The extent of our first gathering was basic. Everyone said who they were, what they were working on and what they needed. The energy was high and the opportunity for Helalthcare.mn took form.

When we started Healthcare.mn the mission was simple. We believed Minnesota could be the best place in the world to start a healthcare startup. We still believe that. The three of us knew our grassroots approach was going to be a long-term mission (5 years in! Yay!) and we’re excited to look back on what Healthcare.mn will accomplish for the Minnesota ecosystem in another 5, 10, 20 years. The type of networks and trust healthcare.mn has created are indispensable to the future of healthcare innovation in Minnesota.

Another one of our original intents was to create an organization that could be led by young people with little traditional experience. We knew this would serve as a double-edged sword. First, young energetic people taking over from the previous leadership every few years would breathe new life into the volunteer-run organization to prevent it from fading out like some meetups do due to organizer burn-out. Second, a new young leader would get the chance to accelerate his/her career and standing in the community. So far we are glad to see it working now that Healthcare.mn is on its 3rd generation of leadership. Each new leader has free reign to shape the direction of the organization and is not constrained by the vision of the founders or the previous leader. We are excited to see where it goes next.

To our absolute delight, Healthcare.mn has attracted diverse representation of entrepreneurs, healthcare providers large and small, payer representatives, designers, investors, technologists and employers come together on a regular basis. From our humble beginnings, healthcare.mn quickly grew to nearly 2,000 members to be the main source connecting and education for all those interested in healthcare entrepreneurship in the Midwest. The group paid back dividends in networking and opportunity for us and we know the same could be said of our members. We are excited to see healthcare.mn continue to be a resource for the community as healthcare continues to change.

Solome, Glafira (2nd gen leader) and Pete are in the Bay Area now and remain passionate about helping boost the Healthcare Innovation scene in Minnesota. Glafira and Pete are helping mentor the first class of Google startups and were thrilled to make Minnesota connections for them. Thompson is still in Minnesota working on his current company. And Connor and Meghana (3rd gen leaders) are now at the helm of Healthcare.mn.

Thank you to everyone who has supported us along the way!

Glafira Marcon, Lead Organizer (Past)

I joined Healthcare.mn as a member a few months after Pete, Thompson, and Solome founded the group. I was a recent college graduate, and having focused on international health and development I did not know a thing about health tech or “innovation”. My first event was a demo day at Treehouse, for which I volunteered to greet guests, and I was blown away by the community; the energy in the room was incredible. As a newbie, I was intimidated by the tech and startup lingo, but Pete and Thompson helped me feel comfortable and find my place in the organization. I found that I could contribute by helping founders understand and articulate the core problem they were trying to solve, and also educating them on the social determinants of health.
5 years later, I am so proud of our community. Early members who have found success give back to emerging ones, word of mouth fuels our growth, and we take a member-first approach to all that we do. I’m also so relieved that the organization can survive and thrive beyond any one leader. Pete expertly transitioned the org to me, and I put a little more structure around it and passed to Conner & team. With the new leadership, I can truly say that we are well-positioned to keep serving our members as their needs evolve, and that the healthcare startup and innovation scene is more happening than ever. Happy 5 year anniversary!

Conner O’Brien, Co-lead Organizer (Present)

I stumbled into the Minnesota entrepreneurial community on accident, and I couldn’t be more thankful for it. Being introduced to the innovators, risk takers and determined people that make up Healhcare.mn has been a life-changing experience for me.

I joined Healthcare.mn in 2017 after attending several events and meeting dozens, if not hundreds of different members. I was initially drawn by the energy and intelligence I saw on display at each event.

However, one reason in particular made me want to dedicate my time to this amazing community. With Healthcare.mn, I was able to meet people who were attempting to build companies and products that helped real people. In a world full of difficulty, it was a sense of optimism within the Healthcare.mn community that kept drawing me back.

Everyday our team thinks about how we can support those who are trying to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing health care today. I feel nothing but gratitude to be a small part of this community and look forward to a great 2018!

Meghana Bhimarao, Co-lead Organizer (Present)

As a Silicon Valley transplant to the Twin Cities, I missed the strong entrepreneurial culture of the Bay Area and joined Healthcare.MN in a search of a community of innovators, thinkers, and doers. Healthcare.MN has been that entrepreneurial community that I was looking for, but also so much more. I think we, as an organization, are a testament not only to the inherent culture of healthcare innovation that exists in Minnesota, but also to the will, drive, and persistence of our larger professional community to push barriers and see opportunity in challenges. I’m incredibly grateful to be a part of the Healthcare.MN team and can’t wait to see how we can support, grow, and learn from one another in the next five years, just as we have in the last five.

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