For most startups and investors in the healthcare industry, the week of JP Morgan’s Healthcare Conference is a bit like the Super Bowl. Its expensive, its chaotic and its a right of passage.
(note: offer to help at the bottom of this post)
(We also want to point out that CES is also kicking off in Las Vegas. While this was not started with a healthcare element, the healthcare tech presence has grown dramatically over the last 5 years and is important for any consumer focused medtech startup to be aware of at a minimum.)
Most of our members haven’t been involved in the industry and this event to know it did not start as the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference. Back in the 1990s a boutique investment bank called Hambrecht and Quist was one of the dominant players in healthcare innovation, financing and IPOs. This was their conference. As the industry consolidated, H&Q was acquired and the event migrated to the namesake it has today. More importantly, the conference was originally focused on earlier stage companies, but JP Morgan makes its money on IPO services, so the focused shifted to becoming largely a showcase of their offerings and clients. The result was that over a dozen parallel events sprung up around the namesake event and are held all over the Bay Area during the same week. In fact, most people trekking to SF the second week of January are there for meetings and not conferences.
More important than history, is understanding what and how to leverage the convergence of industry stakeholders. Obviously the cost to be in the Bay Area this week are not trivial. We’ll assume you have already figured out your obscure hotel arrangement or AirBnB options by now. Outside of events you are already scheduled to attend, the remaining question is how to spend the remainder of your time so you don’t return home having consumed expensive cocktails, but not really accomplishing any meaningful business objectives. Here are a few suggestions:
– Try and get into the St Francis Hotel Lounge to conduct some meetings. The hotel is secured for badge holders only, but where there is a will there is a way. This is the location where serendipity is at its best. Make sure your team has an extrovert at the ready as this is hand to hand combat.
– FREE networking events. There are a host of corporate sponsored events that you can attend if you know where to go, or with minimal effort made toward getting on the invite list. Start Sunday evening with the Circus Before The Circus. You can do some research to find events by looking up JPM 2023 or variations on that name. Every major law firm in healthcare will be hosting an event and those are almost always open. Most of the big consulting firms also hold receptions as do state bio associations. Some of the media organizations hold events (ex. Fierce) and are a good place to identify more.
Once you have identified the events you are intending to attend, you need to have a game plan. Showing up will get you nothing more than crappy bottled beer. Have a once sentence pitch on what you do ready. Have questions related to what you are trying to accomplish ready. Always ask who the person you are taking to might know that would be helpful in your pursuits. One conversation should turn into several more intros. Skip business cards. Useless. Text your contact info right then and there. You want cell phone connections, not email follow-ups a week later.
This week is chaotic. Have a goal or a few goals. Know how you intend to measure success against those goals. If you are raising capital, your goal should be to find introductions to qualified investors who are actively deploying capital in your area of focus. The key to that advice is “qualified.” Getting meetings is useless and a waste of time if they are not qualified. Most everyone will take a meeting to hear something interesting. You don’t need friends from this event, you need action.
If you’ve ready this far, nice work. We want to help you out. Provide a little info about yourself and we’ll send a few updates during the JPM week on events or things we think might be worthwhile. HERE