A Recap of the HALICON 2024 Startup Showcase

The seventh edition of the MinneAnalytics Healthcare Data Science Conference took place Friday, April 19, 2024 at the Best Buy HQ Campus in Richfield, MN. A “Startup Showcase” was held again that morning — which was actually the 15th such session we’ve had over the past decade. (We do them at all our major conferences, not just healthcare.) Not counting this session, we’ve now featured a total of 114 startups, which collectively have raised hundreds of millions in capital and created thousands of jobs. About 10% of them have had successful exits via acquisition.

Our startup session at the April 19 conference had probably the largest attendance of any we’ve ever done. It was standing room only throughout! I asked each of the startup presenters, What was one good thing that happened to you because of your participation in this session, or one interesting contact you made?

Mark Summers, Dosentrx

Mark Summers, Dosentrx: “I met Chiahui Wang of Taiwania Capital Management.” [Who was in attendance because one of its portfolio companies, AESOP Technology, was also pitching.]

Tony Hyk, TheraTec

Tony Hyk, TheraTec: “Keith from Nested Knowledge reached out and introduced me to somebody that can help with SBIR [nondilutive] funding. We haven’t done anything there, but I’m meeting her on Monday just to talk about future opportunities.”

Jeremiah Scholl, AESOP Technology

Jeremiah Scholl, AESOP Technology: “Being part of the event gave me a good impression of the overall health tech scene in Minneapolis. Impressed with the ecosystem!” [His company is headquartered in San Francisco.]

Keith Kallmes, Nested Knowledge

Keith Kallmes, Nested Knowledge: “I learned about an entirely new vertical of researchers who could use our product: pharmacy benefit managers. I actually think it could drive serious business for us. We’re already in a pilot with a PBM I met there, who approached me!”

Lia Butler, NeoPrediX

Lia Butler, NeoPrediX: “Aside from the wonderful networking opportunities, I was introduced to a technology for the first time that, once commercialized, will greatly improve the health of a family member. Exciting!” [Lia is based in NY.]

Laura Stoltenberg, Cryosa

Laura Stoltenberg, Cryosa: “For me, it showed the importance of a strong ecosystem in the Twin Cities, which can create leads for funding rounds and future partnerships.”

Ping Yeh, Vocxi Health

Ping Yeh, Vocxi Health: “I was able to present to a room full of existing and potential investors about the latest and greatest on our company. Also, I was inspired by the co-presenters and their companies.”

Chris Darland, Peerbridge Health

Chris Darland, Peerbridge Health: “I was able to connect with multiple new investors as well as expand my technical network. I’m looking forward to coming back next year!” [Chris, the CEO, is based in Nashville.]

(By the way, a Minneapolis StarTribune business columnist mentioned both Vocxi and Peerbridge in a piece that appeared the day after attending the conference.)

Standing room only for the VC panel.

The panel following the startup pitches packed the room even further — very little standing room was left! The topic was, “The Current Funding Environment for Healthcare and Medtech Startups.” I asked each panelist, What was the single best insight or comment you would cite from the discussion?

The VC panel featuring Frank Jaskulke, Stephanie Rich, Dave Dalvey & Greg Banker, moderated by Graeme Thickins.

Frank Jaskulke, Medical Alley Association: “Having heard Stephanie Rich share that they may see 2500 companies in a year to invest in 3 or 4 — that really highlights the competition startups face. But it also speaks to the importance of engaging the right investors, not just any investors. A startup can waste a lot of time chasing the wrong targets.”

Stephanie Rich, Bread & Butter Ventures: “The biggest thing I was struck by was the interest in venture and healthcare by our ecosystem and attendees! The attendance and questions were amazing.” [Stephanie sat in for her colleague Mary Grove, who called in at the last minute with a cold.]

Dave Dalvey, Brightstone Venture Capital: “The tracking and market implications of ‘overhang’ or ‘dry powder’ as it’s called in the venture capital industry are important to understand. Too much or too little un-invested capital held by active venture managers, at a time when a new company is in the market for funding, has a significant impact on the pricing, terms, and general receptiveness of a fund manager to a new opportunity.”

Greg Banker, Vensana Capital: “I liked Dave’s comment about making sure to research VCs before you go out to fundraise, to ensure you’re a match for their criteria — or that you’re similar to other investments they’ve made in the past. For example, if you’re raising a seed investment and the fund you’re trying to talk with has never done anything but Series B and beyond — well, not likely a fit.”

Thanks again to all who participated and attended! See you at the next Startup Showcase — at our Data Tech conference on June 7. Startups can still apply to pitch at this link.

Graeme Thickins is the MinneAnalytics Startup Showcase Organizer and a MinneAnalytics Board Member.