While working to create a MedTech startup either from scratch or later trying to get the product to market, John Carreyrou’s book “Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup” about the Theranos scandal should be absolutely required reading.
The story about Theranos is well documentet by now: Only the lies were bigger than the claims of what they could do, and it remains a fact that it is one of the biggest tech scandals of recent years.
Then why should founders and people working within MedTech read it?
Because it is a horror-story about what can potentially happen when a beautiful idea – and the idea was beautiful, as non-feasible as it was – gets overtaken by hype, greed and personal ambition. It inspires to make sure you always stay the right course based on fact and NEVER deviate from it.
Because it is a horror-story about what happens when you lose sight of what it is you’re trying to do; help people with a condition or at risk of attracting one (or whatever it is, you’re trying to do with your MedTech startup) and instead focus on yourself and own selfish, short-term needs. Indirectly it is a recipe for how to risk turning into a real a**hole.
Because it is a deeply relevant story about how MedTech – or HealthTech for that matter (although maybe not quite as much) – is different from most other types of startups in that there are rules, regulations, certifications, you need to abide by, comply to and get, because – yes – it is a dead serious business. If that’s too cumbersome for you, get out. And do something else.
And because it sends a sombre signal that even though you can fool some people some of the time, you can’t fool all people all the time – and never ever should even try to do so in this space, even if your surrounded with people who have too low of an ethical/moral bar to be in this space in the first place. Boot them out instead and get your moral compass back in order.
MedTech is not a ‘get rich quick’-scheme. Lives may literally be at stake. Yes, the potential can be huge for successful startups in this space, but that should always be the result of actual value delivered by putting people better off. Not by applying smoke and mirrors and perform actions on the wrong side of the law – moral as well as legal.
Speaking of legal: Elizabeth Holmes is at the time of writing this awaiting trial with her former boyfriend and COO of Theranos, Ramesh “Sunny”Balwani, on several counts of wire fraud.
Just sayin’ and highly recommending the book.