Office Hours: I am the General Manager of Platform at a healthcare unicorn startup. I’m Julia Bernstein. AMA!Featured

Hi Elphas!

I’m Julia Bernstein, General Manager of Platform at Thirty Madison. Thirty Madison is the leading provider of hybrid care for people living with chronic conditions. My focus is our shared services across our family of brands (Cove, Evens, Facet, Keeps, Nurx, and Picnic).

I'm a recovering consultant turned healthcare strategy and growth leader. Before Thirty Madison, I was COO of Tempest and worked in health strategy, operations, and sales at Beacon Health Options, The Institute on Aging, and Ginger. I started my career at McKinsey serving healthcare companies. I’m a proud Stanford MBA and Dartmouth alum (Go Big Green!).

I’m also an active angel investor and advisor to early-stage healthcare companies. I'm an avid consumer of the written word, a wannabe Julia Child, and would always rather be traveling. I live outside New York City with my husband and two kids.

Ask me anything about behavioral and digital health, strategy, operations, angel investing, navigating the startup world, the best shows on PBS Kids, or anything else!

Thanks so much for joining us @JFB!Elphas – please ask @JFB your questions before Friday, April 22nd. @JFB may not have time to answer every questions, so emoji upvote your favorites 🔥👍🏾➕
From your experience as an angel investor, what trends do you see in why some healthcare startups succeed vs ones that failed?
Hi @joannez,Good question! I’m a strong believer that the most successful companies are those that have a clear perspective on who will benefit from and pay for a product or service. Founding team experience and ability to execute helps too, but understanding how you make money is a huge factor in success.
Thank you! I'm in Canada so I think it's also going to be quite different and have heard it's harder due to our universal healthcare system needing to get government buy in.
Having lived/worked in both - California and now Canada - there are certainly administrative differences. Many American health tech innovations don't cut it in Canada due to higher bar of proven value here. All advanced health systems are transitioning to value based care, and core requirements - great UX for patients/providers, affordability, independent proof of impact - are very similar across North America. Like @JFB said, a clear market access strategy have to be embedded in the product from the start. In personalized medicine we are in the business of time - getting to the right treatment sooner, and have an RCT to prove it..... But 'time', or getting better sooner is not that important to doctors, only to "payers" and us, the Individuals.
That's a really great key insight there that having the time savings/more efficient treatment is important more to payers than the clinicians. I'm a clinician myself and think a lot about the patient experience since specialist appointments take so long here to get!
Hi Julia, I'd love to hear about your journey from consulting to start-up. I've been working in Strategy and Operations at Accenture for 8 years working with tech clients and I am interested in exploring opportunities in tech start-ups.
Hi @RenataG,Consulting is a great background for tech. I chose to make the transition by going to business school - but that was 10 years ago (!!) in a very different environment.One of the trends I’ve seen recently is the rise of the “Strategy and Operations” or “Biz Ops” role at early stage companies - that is generally a good entry point for consultants. Otherwise, your best bet is to focus on a functional area (marketing, product, sales, operations) and be able to tell a story about how your consulting experience directly applies.Best of luck!
@RenataG would like to hear more about you and what you’re interested in. I’m leading a health tech startup and want to expand my network. Will DM & LI.
Hi @JFB! Thank you so much for taking the time for AMA. I’m curious about your transition from consulting/corporate into the startup world. More specifically, what skill sets did you lean on when making that transition and what skill sets did you feel you’ve gained? Also, any advice when it comes to networking during that transition?For context, I spent 13.5 years leading sales teams at Google and left in Jan 2021 to focus on my family. I’m ready to get back into the workforce and femtech and healthcare are passions of mine as a mom who experienced infertility while being a leader in corporate America. Thanks in advance for taking the time to share more about your journey!Jessi
@jessi8 I love your story and journey. Would love to chat sometime and hear more. I am leading an early stage digital health startup and looking to connect with other forward thinking women who appreciate the challenges and joys of having a career and family. Will connect on LI too.
Hi @ThereseLCanares - I'd love to connect to hear more about you & your startup!
Hi @jessi8,Thanks for your question - as a working mom myself, I think it’s so important to bring attention to femtech and talk about things like infertility.In terms of making the consulting/corporate to startup transition, it’s important to make the case that you are a doer and a builder, and can thrive in a faster-paced environment (sounds like being a mom sometimes, right?). A sales and team management skillset generally maps well to startup world - how do you translate what you’ve done to what a healthtech company might need in terms of forming B2B partnerships?I would also look at some of the new bespoke job boards and talent collectives (all on Pallet) that have come up. It’s a good way to get your profile out there. Going Digital and OOP are two good ones.Good luck!
Thank you for your thoughts & insights @JFB!
Any must-read recommendations?! Fiction, professional, anything - I like anything with a good story or that makes me think deeply.What are your favorite digital health reads (whether blog, newsletter, books, etc)? OR any content you wish existed. (for context, I'm helping my company think through a health-tech content strategy)+ any favorite recipes to share? 😊
Hi @MollieFleury,Thanks for your questions!For books - I can’t recommend Sid Mukherjee’s the Emperor of all Maladies and The Gene enough to anyone interested in healthcare. I just picked up Walter Isaacson’s The Code Breaker, and am excited to dive into that. On a lighter note, I’ve been enjoying Jasmine Guillory’s books.For digital health - the substack writer’s guild (Kevin O’Leary’s HTN, Nikhil Krishnan’s OOP, Olivia Webb’s Acute Conditions, Brendan Keeler’s Health API guy) has quickly become where I go for information. Also, anything Chrissy Farr or Julie Yoo writes.And I just got Simply Julia by Julia Turshen - I’m cooking my way through it and it’s all wonderful. And as a bonus, she has a podcast with Jasmine Guillory about food in romance as part of her Keep Calm and Cook On series!Let me know what you think about any of these!
Hi JuliaWhat do you think will be the role of data in healthcare in the next few years and how can we promote good uses of it and discourage bad uses ? Thank for answering everyone's questions :)
Hi @insilicobiologyData is absolutely core to healthcare, both today and in the future. Your question is the right one - we need to balance patient privacy and some of the emerging issues around things like genomic sequencing with the amazing power to improve care by better understanding our own health on the individual and population level. I think we’ll see companies continue to invest in data science. We will hopefully also see the emergence of ethics guidelines and functions as well.
Thank you so much for answering 😊
Hi @JFB, would love to hear your thoughts about the commercial and clinical value of being a broad-based health tech platform. Is there such thing a upselling in the health sector? If I got an excellent skin tele-consult, would I trust the same app rather than a pharmacy next door to help with indigestion 2 years later? At my company ( we've solved 1 problem: how to personalize pharmaceutical treatments for people needing an ongoing condition management, such as living with moderate depression... and 50+ other conditions. Pillcheck combines DNA analysis with an online medication review by expert pharmacistsOur software design is rooted in the accumulated ‘real world’ experience, serving a broad range of b2b clients, (including clinics, pharmacies, workplace benefits, and insurance claims). And now we are at a strategic cross-road because scaling in any one area requires massive $$$Looking forward to hear your thoughts on this burning questionP.S. And what are you reading now days? On a long plane ride last week I thoroughly enjoyed Kiss of the Fur Queen - magical writing by Tomson Highway.
Hi @VeronikaL,Great questions - and ones I’m thinking about every day.One of the things I often think about, having spent 8 years in CA, is the Kaiser model. People who have Kaiser love Kaiser - it’s all under one roof, and data is shared easily. I think there’s real potential to create a virtual-first integrated delivery network using a health tech platform.Hmm…not as much time for reading these days, but I just finished The Siren by Katherine St. John.And your company sounds really cool!
Hi @JFB! I'm curious about your position as a platform GM. What would you say are the main benefits of the platform + product lines structure at Thirty Madison, what are some challenges? And for you personally, what do you enjoy most and least about the GM position at a large startup? Thanks so much! Daria
Hi @dbrauner,One of the awesome things about Thirty Madison is that our specialized care model is condition-agnostic. One of the ways we’ve made that happen is by building both our tech and services on a shared platform. Our BU leaders and condition-specific brands bring a unique understanding of a therapeutic area, which we can then support in a scaled way.Some of the most exciting things about the role are the opportunity to work with and mentor some amazing folks, and dig into some meaty strategic questions. The challenges are generally around prioritization - there is so much exciting stuff we could do that!
Hi Julia,Thank you for your time and the opportunities o ask questions. I am a founder of a family mental health platform with a focus on teens, looking to connect to angel investors in health tech/ed tech-based out of Berlin. Being an angel investor and working in health tech what are your top tips, for approaching investors and what kind of reactions you are interested to see?
Hi @AzadehDindarian,What a great and needed platform!In terms of getting to know investors, warm intros are always good, so I would start by focusing on networking and getting to know other founders in the space (Elpha is great for that). I would also do some research - who are the individuals or small funds that are passionate about your area? For instance, in the US, there are some groups that explicitly invest in adolescent mental health (HopeLab is one).In terms of what I look for - I want to see a strong founding team that understands their market and has a plan for generating revenue. I’m increasingly focused on understanding how a company is going to acquire patients - it’s important for both B2B and DTC in healthcare.Good luck!
Hi, Julia! Thanks for doing this! I just graduated with a degree in health education, and I'm interested in healthcare and tech. How do I transition out of nonprofit health education and into the tech side? I have a lot of experience with administration, and I have the education experience for the healthcare side. I just don't know how to translate that into the field. I'm also a certified health education specialist. Thank you!
Hi @katherinewood,I get a lot of similar questions - whether it's transitioning from consulting to startups or nonprofits to tech. I’ve found the most important thing is to be able to tell your story, and how you think your skillset can help you have an impact. For instance, if you’re interested in care coordination, coaching, or similar roles, do some research into what those JDs look like at your target companies, and then map your experience to those roles. My guess is there are some good parallels.Also - try to talk to people who have made the transition or who have the type of role you want (Search Elpha or LI). Companies still put a lot of value (for better or for worse) on the warm intro. Good luck!
Hi Julia! Thank you so much for being open to questions through this forum. How did you become an angel investor? I work at a FinTech company and am well educated on how to make investments in private businesses, however, I don't qualify as an accredited investor. I'm also a part-time MBA student and in my pre-accelerator course, I'm exploring how to create a path to qualify to invest in private deals through the new accredited investor definition (where someone can take the Series 65). Look forward to hearing back!Alex
Hi @alexcoxcuzzi,Love this question - I think more women should be thinking about angel investing, and I like your alternative accreditation idea.I started as an advisor to startups, and made my first investment in a company where I knew the founder well. Most of my investments since then have either been places where I know the market well, and can add real value. Also, I only invest money that I’m okay not getting back (though I certainly hope to see a return).Additionally, I just did First Round’s Angel Track program, which is an intro to angel investing program and a good source of deal flow. Highly recommend!Let me know how your idea evolves!
@JFB thank you for your time! I’m founder of a pre-seed stage digital health company. I’m anticipating raising a seed round next year. I also am looking for a technical cofounder, but being purposeful to find the right person. I have a development company that can contract/interim CTO for me for now. How do angels/VCs view the solo founder with a contracted dev team vs a team of 2 with a technical co-founder? If I try to go solo will it make my raise impossible?
Hi @ThereseLCanaresCongrats on taking the first step as a founder! Different angels/VCs have different approaches when it comes to evaluating opportunities. Generally, they look at some combination of team, product, and market. So as long as you can tell a good story about how your team can win (even without a technical CTO at that stage), you should hopefully have success with the right investors as you look for the right technical partner.Good luck!