Thursday, May 13, 2010

Scott Collins Talks about His Startup

Scott Collins Talks about His Startup

Where are you from originally?

I was born and raised in Houston, TX.

What university did you go to?

I received my undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin. Later, I earned my masters and PhD in Biomedical Engineering at UT-Austin through labs at the Texas Medical Center in Houston.

What brought you to Austin?


What is the idea behind your startup?

When traveling to Haiti in 2003, I noticed that donated medical equipment was poorly utilized. To one degree or another, this was true for all of the hospitals I visited. This remained the case on a later visit and continues to this day. These problems can be largely solved by coordinating and intelligently deploying medical equipment and volunteers based on the unique realities encountered in developing countries. Doing this, however, is no small task and beyond the capabilities of most groups and teams who are currently involved. We will bring this knowledge to all groups and foster a collaborative effort between the many groups based on their overlapping visions.

What need does it fulfill?

Hundreds if not thousands of groups, individuals, and companies volunteer their time, efforts, and capital in order to provide medical care to all reaches of the world. Helping locally is hard enough for many, but helping internationally brings up a set of barriers most of us are unaccustomed to. Great efforts and resources are donated with the best of intentions, but results are often disappointing. This is unnecessary and our system helps bridge the gap in expertise and logistics necessary to value people’s time and commitment, resulting in enhanced efforts and donations. Our goal is to help those who are able to save more lives and provide better medical care.

What exactly does your product do?

Our product can be described within two primary contexts. In the first, it is a souped-up Craig’s List like system designed around the medical equipment donations. Not only does it facilitate the initial match between those with equipment and those who need it, but it also handles other tasks at the recepients’ end that could otherwise limit its usefulness. The second context is a community-based portal centered around medical care in the poorer areas of the world. Thousands of individuals and teams provide service—often on their own dime. Many if not most deployments don’t utilize their time and efforts effectively due to unknown yet largely preventable reasons. This portal will help medical, engineering, and other teams avoid these problems and help assure donations of time and capital are used effectually. It will help in planning deployments as well as track long-term results of the same.

Who is it for?

The primary benefactors are the patients in underserved areas. They will benefit from increased healthcare by those using the system including: hospitals, clinics, medical groups, volunteer groups, donors, engineers, the international press, and other entities. The system helps assure everyone’s time and capital are utilized more effectively.

What was the most challenging aspect of starting up a business?

Starting a business in and by itself is easy. The challenge often centers around finding the right team based on the company’s mission/vision, verifying the initial market, assuring sustainability of the company, and funding initial deployment.
What is the next step for you and your startup? Monetization of the product. Social capital is exchanged throughout the system. Creating revenue from this worldwide venture is less understood, but should be solvable. Sustainability for this project is important.

What advice do you have for entrepreneurs?

Embark on ventures you have a true passion for. Find people who compliment your abilities and share the vision. Know what success is then just do it.

What Austin-based resource have you found to be the most helpful and why?

I started my first company quite some time ago. At that time, the entrepreneurial community was not easy to tap into. This has definitely changed. Resources I have found most useful include the community of entrepreneurs that exist here in Central Texas. Since beginning this venture early this year I have met several collaborators through RISE Austin, the Tech Ranch, various technology and entrepreneur meet-up groups such as Austin Tech Happy Hour, and various tweetups, the Austin Entrepreneur Network, etc.