So what’s being done with all the data we record today with our wearable technology? From here, it doesn’t seem like it’s enough just to be able to glance at a readout from time to time to check calorie-burn or blood pressure. Numbers are just numbers. To be valuable, the data must be transformed into actionable information.

One of the problems is that today’s wearables cannot transmit that data in compliance with the patient privacy required by government HIPAA regulations. And this is too bad because the technology exists that would allow the application of this data to drive down a least some of the onerous costs of chronic diseases. Think type-2 diabetes and some cancers. We’re familiar with the depressing numbers. According to the American Diabetes Association, for example,, this disease accounts today for one out of every five dollars spent on health care in America. Between 2007 and 2012, cost of treatment rose 41% to $245 billion. Diabetes is just one example.

So what do do? For starters, we could develop and embed those ubiquitous wearables with the firmware that would enable a secure, virtual network compliant with HIPAA rules. This network could transmit the readings through a secure wireless link to the wearer’s smartphone and then on to a back-end cloud where, utlizing machine learning, the data could be analyzed to determine the inflection points in the monitored data. Then this could signal the onset of trouble such as as a critical reading in a diabetic’s glucometer. Receiving an alert in real-time, the appropriate clinician could take steps immediately to mitigate any complications.

The per-patient cost savings of reduced diabetic complications amount from $67 to $105 per month in the U.S. for the non-Medicare population and $99 to $158 per month for Medicare patients. Beyond diabetes, cancer treatment presents another opportunity to drive down costs by enabling chemo pumps to collect and transmit important patient data between the patient’s home and hospital.

So, for a for a major HMO such as Kaiser with nine million subscribers and an estimated 20% of them suffering from diabetes, this kind of secure network and back-end cloud employing machine learning algorithms could represent savings of $180M per month in the treatment of complications.  That’s a sizable dent in the cost of treating and managing chronic disease for a single HMO.


There’s an old truism in venture capital that the worst answer from a would-be entrepreneur to questions about competition is anything along the lines of “Well, we really don’t have any.”   Because, the thinking goes, if there’s no competition there’s really no business.  And if there are competitors, which is probably closer to the truth, the entrepreneur has done shabby diligence and what else is he unaware of?

Know your competitive landscape like your backyard.  Know where you fit into it. Know who’s out there, and who’s doing what with whom. Know them better than they know themselves. Or, at least try to. The old saying was that “IBM can’t think of everything,” which was (and still is) true.  But never lose sight that, at any given time, there’s somebody wanting to solve the same problem you’ve identified. Especially if it’s big. And the bigger the problem, the bigger the opportunity and the bigger the pay-off.  Get your head out of the sand, whip out your binoculars focused on the horizon. Make no mistake. Somebody’s out there and the faster you find out who it is and what they have (and don’t have), the better. Nobody said it more succinctly than Intel co-founder Andy Grove. Only the paranoid survive.

Bad apple in the bunch© Dvmsimages


The typical tech start-up, right out of the blocks, consists of a close-knit team, a handful of individuals who know and trust each other. Before it attracts investors, this team will work tirelessly to get traction. Once the traction is established, the team begins (or continues) its quest for funding. But there are various other permutations of team and timing.  Let’s say the founder needs to bring in additional team members sooner than later, in other words, sooner than the money’s in the bank. Or he/she needs to recruit someone in the pinch of needing a specific skill-set.  The rule here is to vet before you bet. Very carefully.

The ugly truth is that there are more wannabes than ever before in the recruiting pool who may look like a decent fit on paper but, in reality, redefine the word misfit.

In the words of basketball coaching legend John Wooden, “Be quick, but don’t hurry” when it comes to extending the offer than leavens your team. Above all, don’t make commitments in equity or anything else assuming the best outcome. And if you’re hiring a developer, be absolutely certain that your code lives on a server controlled by you. In the event of any misunderstanding, you don’t want to tempt a good boy to go bad (as your parents may have said).

As distasteful as they are to some rugged individualists, the standard hiring techniques of big companies and non-startups are relevant here:

1. Use Linked In. Not just to do the obvious outreach to the appropriate groups, but to study the background (and references) of the people who look like good fits.  It’s amazing how naive an otherwise street-smart founder can be when he or she becomes smitten with a particular candidate or feels the squeeze to bring someone aboard ASAP.  Caveat Entrepreneur.

2. Ensure that the whole team has a chance to talk, at length, separately, with the candidate. Not voice-to-voice or via Skype, but eyeball to eyeball across a desk or a restaurant table or at a bar. Or anywhere in close proximity. Get to know this person. To the best extent that you can, find out who they are, who they are not and what drives them.

3. Have a candid, in-person conversation with people the candidate has worked for, with, or has supervised.  Candor is critical here. Raise issues relevant to your specific situation and challenges.

4. Trust the collective instinct of your team, but listen closely to your gut.

As obvious as these guidelines seem, they are often overlooked or even scoffed at. The bitter aftertaste of a poor hire lasts long after the immediate sweetness of bringing them aboard in the anticipation that they were who you thought they were and how they represented themselves. In the hiring process, there are fewer things worse than buyer’s remorse.


When he’s not ranting on this blog, Stan DeVaughn oversees customer development and marketing at RightOn Mobile, a medical data security start-up in stealth mode; separately, he collaborates with agency partner Peter Davé at Write Angle, Silicon Valley’s premiere content-development specialists for the tech industry.

Full house poker hand.

© Arenaphotouk


You want to “get to yes,” no?

You want to “always be closing”.

You want a “win-win” outcome.  Trouble is, most of the time it doesn’t t work out the way the books you’ve read promise that it will. How come? To expert negotiator Jim Camp, it’s simple. Most people don’t understand the principles at work in a negotiation. This includes authors and business school faculties.

Successful negotiators understand the way people make up their minds about the things that are important to them and listen carefully for the signals that reveal these things. The pros want to pick up everything that’s said. Everything. Because what is most important may have little, if anything, to do with the issues, or to what people say is important.

Negotiating is about understanding human behavior more than obsessing on some compromise.  Whenever compromise for its own sake is the objective, according to Camp, bad deals follow.

Superior negotiators see what they do in terms of learning and discovering things.  So they assume nothing prior to the process.  An unskilled negotiator’s assumptions about the things that people may want are deal killers.

Key to success: discovering what matters most to the other party. It may be a desire for better service and speedier delivery, not lower price. In other words, no amount of logic, reason and facts about price are ever going to work if your proposal doesn’t alleviate the real pain. When the real concern is finally uncovered, you’re on your way to a solution — and not before then. Camp’s recipe has four ingredients:

1.  Understand how decisions get made. Unless your proposal solves the real problem, you’ll go nowhere (see the example above).

2. Consider questions as your tools.  The best tools get the best results. Master negotiators ask tactfully sensitive, open-ended questions that begin with “what”, “how”, and “why”.  Make the questioning all about the other party: “How do you see this?” What is your biggest problem?” When did this issue become a concern for you?” Why do you think this is wrong/right way to go?”

3. Listen closely  and observe. Close, careful listening to what’s said and not said combined with scrutiny of body language and facial expressions are indispensable to a productive negotiation.

4. Stay neutral.  Never easy, of course, but absolutely mission-critical. When we’re emotional we do the things that kill deals: speaking too loudly and too soon are death to a good deal. Practice the inscrutable poker face and calm voice. It will pay off.

When he’s not ranting on this blog, Stan DeVaughn is an inscrutable VP marketing at RightOn Mobile, a Silicon Valley-based developer of health-care industry IT security apps.  Actually, he tends to wear his emotions on his sleeve too often. 





MDM Phone-chain


People want to work with the electronic tools they bring to the office or wherever else they spend their time, not with the school supplies handed to them by their employers.

These would be the “CI” (company-issue) phones and tablets, i.e., having to toggle ceaselessly between “their” phone and the company’s. Makes perfect sense. So we were encouraged the other day to hear a senior IT executive of a Fortune 50-sized enterprise describe his contempt for the MDM thrust of trying to manage people away from what they want to do.

“I want to enable people to work the way they’re most comfortable and productive,” he said.  Imagine that.  A major dude who sees himself as an enabler of the people who do the work that pushes his company forward.  “This includes me,” he added.  So he’s pushing a strategy of security that protects proprietary information and privacy while maximizing productivity. A non-trivial task, to be sure, but considering the alternative of falling behind his like-minded competitors it’s a mission he must accomplish. Encumbered employees aren’t anywhere near peak performance and never will be.

Technology must enable, not obstruct: simple concept, often misinterpreted. Leave people to their own devices and ensure productive results.

When he’s not ranting on this blog or creating content at Write Angle, Stan DeVaughn serves as senior consultant in customer development and marketing at RightOn Mobile, Inc. a developer of location-based security products for a mobile, BYOD workforce.

Photo © Mhristov


Illuminated iPhone 5 Apps screen on a computer keyboard Editorial Photography

© Paul Radulescu

OK, so Google brand just elbowed Apple brand out of the way in the nonstop roller derby of world’s most valuable  brand. So what? So this means that Apple’s time in the sun as Master of the Innovation Universe is history? Don’t bank on it.

In an innovation slug-fest, in which the physics associated with mega companies makes it ever more difficult to stop-and-pivot on a dime, big cash reserves can buy a lot of innovation. Why do you think Google/YouTube is in perpetual shopping mode? Ditto Apple. Double-ditto Facebook.  Each of these cash-laden titanosaurs has strengths and weaknesses. And, when you blow away all the smoke,  GOOG is at heart a search engine, FB is a social network and AAPL manufactures consumer electronics and computer software products.

As long as Apple makes and sells things with which people actually do things–and without which those users would be incapable of searching anything and/or posting incessant updates, it’s going to have the inside track in the value derby.


Small Big Business Handshake Size









© Dave Bredeson


Financing your tech venture, especially product development, may require sources of funds untypical of VCs or Angels. It might point to a source you may not have considered: a potential customer, ideally one with deep pockets and a history of early adoption.

In certain cases, the right corporate customer may want to explore the possibility of influencing a tailored product, especially an I.T. solution.

If this sounds like you, here are a few essentials your appeal for financing should address:

>Spotlight your team’s experience/accomplishment in similar projects such as the one you’re proposing. What can you tell them that will inspire confidence that you can execute? Put yourself in their shoes. What would inspire you?

>Describe a scenario or two or three by which your target can gain a better understanding of the way you think about approaching the kinds of problems you’re purporting to solve — and delivering what would amount to a beta release.

>To the best of your knowledge, what resources do you need to mount the type of project you’re proposing: how much money are you looking for and where will it go?

Your objective for meeting #1 is simple: get invited to meeting #2. You want the discussions to continue. But no matter if there’s is a second meeting or not, you will leave the first one with invaluable information about customers and product requirements. This is pure gold. Be prepared with questions of your own as well as clear, candid and confident answers to the ones they ask you.