This summer, several undergraduate students have been interning at startups through the Kathryn Stewart Fellowship program. Undergraduate Stewart fellows are awarded a $3,000 scholarship if they are able to secure a summer internship with venture capital or angel-funded startups and early stage companies. The Dingman Center interviewed each fellow about their experience.
Erich Meissner – LiftOff Health
Tell us about LiftOff Health. What is the company’s mission and core competencies?
LiftOff Health is accelerating healthcare innovation in all areas, whether it be HIPAA-compliant instant messaging services or a nanoscale glucose monitor. LiftOff Health has valued connections with the public sector as it is located right outside DC in Crystal City. Our most immense industry by GDP makeup, the healthcare industry, is also the most highly regulated. Things like FDA approvals for medical devices can easily take over a year, and for a startup, that timeline is dangerous. LiftOff Health leverages our proximity to over 200 foreign embassies and international organizations to expedite the process. Startups can find success abroad and monetize their product-to-market fit faster in other countries. We seek to help healthcare executives achieve 10x equity value for their businesses, a principle that mimics Peter Thiel’s first rule for creating a great business: Build Proprietary Technology That Is 10x Better.
Tell us about your responsibilities thus far at LiftOff Health?
LiftOff Health is putting on a series of healthcare hackathons at dozens of colleges and universities. Our lineup so far is global, with hackathons planned in Belarus, Venezuela and local schools like George Washington University and James Madison University. My responsibilities thus far have been around these hackathons. Participants need a place to upload their hacks, and although Devpost and Github are excellent solutions for demos, we want students to come together and popularize our LiftOff platform. I am currently working on the web functionality to host all these hackers. Also, just like with Bitcamp at UMD, we need to have hardware labs ready and enough 3D printers for the events. The most exciting part of this hackathon series is that it is healthcare focused; we will invite speakers to talk about the biggest challenges facing healthcare today. The industry accounts for almost 20% of US-GDP yet the World Health Organization ranks our healthcare as 37th overall in patient outcomes—it definitely needs some innovation.