View from the Bridge

Startup Field Report #1

How hard could it be? To start a company, collaborate with innovative leaders, help them advance healthcare with technology solutions? Especially for two healthcare IT rock stars–Sue Schade and David Muntz–and me.

Sue and David come from similar backgrounds—CIOs at world renowned academic medical centers, both with top industry recognition, one even with a White House appointment. I, on the other hand, had worked most of my career for professional services firms. And while the Healthcare IT buck might have stopped with me at these firms, there were lots of people way more expert in IT than me. So StarBridge Advisors presented a unique circumstance and set of challenges for me, including how to keep up with Sue and David.

During our first six months, other challenges arose. Sue had worked at large organizations for virtually her entire career, so ‘going boutique’ was a new experience for her with a steep learning curve. We who’ve worked in large organizations often take for granted all the knowledge and support that’s effortlessly provided. Start Up Land can appear to be an alternate reality where expectations of immediate, flawless execution verge on magical thinking. You learn that the knowledge and support resides primarily with you. Sue found that out pretty quickly.

David, on the other hand, had been out on his own for a bit, so his Start Up Land challenge was different. He needed to transition from the sole entrepreneur to team decision making. This is a challenge because he has two partners who are always ready to make decisions!

So while I certainly had a whole bunch of learning to do (and still do—I will never catch up to Sue and David, at least in this lifetime), I did underestimate the challenges for Sue and David.

A major learning for me so far has been how these two world-class healthcare CIOs can be so different. David is a very soft-spoken Southern gentleman, with a cool Texas Drawl. This past weekend he was headed off to a hoedown with his wife wearing his cowboy boots and jeans. The boots probably have spurs. Sue, on the other hand, is a Midwestern transplant to the Northeast, and represents the best of both regions. She’s a little more boisterous, faster speaking and a bit quicker to decide than is our southern counterpart. And is generally found fashionably dressed in “Sue Schade Red.”

Some of the fun has been doing new things: picking a name, designing a logo, creating a website, choosing a customer relationship management (CRM) system, and developing our StarBridge network of IT associates. And of course, getting our first clients and engagements.

It’s also been fun to see how we complement one another: Sue’s and David’s knowledge bases, while both broad, are not identical. Often one knows more about a particular subject than the other—Blockchain is a good example. And I take pride in helping on the business development and operations side.

So, all in all, the first six months of StarBridge Advisors’ life have been quite a happy expedition into Start Up Land. We are very busy, so hopefully we are already delivering on the purpose that we set out to achieve as we collaborate with leaders and innovators to help advance healthcare with technology enabled solutions.

1 comment

  1. Russ,

    Thank you for sharing such valuable inisght and for acknowledging the contributions of Sue and David. We’ll done!


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