by Scott Hampton on June 29th, 2014

Let's see. I'm wired funny, it used to be called "Asperger's" but it's now called "Autistic Spectrum" so I am really astonishingly bad at names and faces. According to the Win Friends and Influence People theory of quintessentially American success, that's a death knell. 

I've been talking to a lot of other founders and startup people lately to find out what their alledged handicap is. Lots of dyslexia, a pretty good sample of synesthesias, OCDs, panic attack sufferers, and several other Aspi's.  And I'm hazarding that a lot of mild to moderate narcissism is at play... 

Most common: depression, bipolar, or some other "mood disorder".  Usually a combination, in fact.

In fact, of the 22 founders of biotech or medtech founders I've spoken to about this since the fall of 2012, more than half of us are on at least one medication for these things. 

I propose that experience of distress is helpful for a founder. A lifetime of mental practice dealing with being different, feeling like an outsider, or dealing with extended anxiety may be the best training for an entrepreneur.

Starting a new venture around an idea that has little market validation is, when you get down to it, a bit unhinged. I once started a venture with an idea that had only theoretical demonstration of possible feasibility. Clearly I'm not normal.

In my case, thanks to childhood sexual abuse, I have struggled with depression for years. I have great meds, thank you, and they work for my situation, and I'm still in the game. There's a lot of evidence that melancholics are more realistic, which has some real benefits if you know how to deal with it.

I was overjoyed recently when I found out that my latest round of low energy levels were due to thyroid problems. That's EASY. Bacterial meningitis almost killed me, a drunk driver almost killed me: thyroid problems are pretty much routine medicine. This is almost sorted out. 

But.

Starting a company has lots of downs and occasional ups. There's the thrill of the concept, then the hard work fleshing it out, and then there are the thousand rejections. Just doing fundraising can be death by a million cuts. You'll hear, repeatedly, the same song by investors. You are:
  • Too early.
  • Too late.
  • Lousy market.
  • Inexperienced team.
  • Management hasn't had prior exit.
  • You're asking for too much money.
  • You're not asking for enough money.
  • Not enough return.
  • Too risky.
  • Not visionary. 
  • And the list goes on. And on...... 
So even for a neurotypical non-neurotic, there is an awful lot of downer for the occasional moment of victory. And in start-ups, the initial victories may not seem like much to anyone else. 

What I'm trying to get at here is that most people who do start something new are doing so because they think that they have not been rewarded for being themself in the normal job culture. "I can do better than this." 

You can. And if you have struggled with some kind of mood or neurological challenges already in life, I think you are better prepared for the manic-depression induction effects of creating something new and convincing enough people to believe in your dream. 

by Scott Hampton on June 7th, 2014

So a taxi hire APP is now worth 18 BILLION in its latest round.

A while back I wrote an unfortunately prescient post about how the YAPA investment craze was killing real venture investing. I wish I had been wrong - for all the fancy talk about how investing was back in 2013, almost all the money was in applicatations and social media and problems of young white affluent people living in big cities. 

In good news, we still get traction on our small-ish medical deals, but honestly - 18 Billion valuation for an alternative to classic taxi service? 

It's the new bubble. Fasten your seat belts, it's stupid now, that means it's going to get ugly soon.

by Scott Hampton on January 16th, 2014

Recently we were asked what the rules were for CHIROPRACTORS and prescription interventional devices that do things like heat or electricity or ultrasound or IR therapy. 

If you thought dentistry had some interesting quirks, the system for chiropractors is a real mess. 

So, the device itself must be FDA registered and approved as appropriate for its classification. 

But chiropractor's aren't permitted to write prescriptions. Mostly. Sorta. It's not just an apples and oranges things, there's all kinds of random fruit-y-ness mixed in. This situation, it turns out, is state by state by state by state..... 50 some phone calls and website deep-dives later, we have the detailed info on this. 

Here's the takeaway, and feel free to get in touch if you want more info. The different rule styles include, but are not limited to:
  • In one state, chiropractors aren't permitted to use prescription devices like this.
  • In 17 states, chiropractors are explicitely permitted to use approved devices like this as long as their is no skin break/intrusion and no analgesic/anaesthesia. 
  • Three (3) states require special training and/or certification.
  • A couple of states specifically exclude specific types but not others.
  • A couple of states delegate this to chiropractic boards.
  • And a lot of states neither approve nor exclude/prohibit.
This reminds me of the situations in physical therapy and some areas of cosmetic dermatology. So, essentially, this is another one of those segments where you have to drill down to the state level in the USA. 

I blame the Founding Fathers! But all humor aside, this is a great example of the type of regulatory situation where you have to drill down at the state level. Similar situations are a lot more common in the EU, but now you know.

by Scott Hampton on December 31st, 2013

I've got a few Entrepreneurial Resolutions for the year:
  • Ask for more money - This year we're going to push on the raise side. Medical Devices has been really flat in terms of investment for quite a while, so if we are going to roll the dice we are going to ask for enough to go all the way to market. 
  • Pitch relentlessly - This year we're going full portfolio and pitching continuously, instead of treating it like a process, one innovation at a time, it's full-on roadshows. 
  • Take care of my own health -  2013 having been brutally busy with a full-on overload of personal business to wrap up  (relocation, etc.) this is the year for some quality time to exercise, play a bit of golf, and resume meditation. I'll be able to do the two things above if I keep my own personal energy high.
Since I'm Moffitt Cancer Center's Entrepreneur in Residence for 2014, I further want to add:
  • More coaching - I love teaching and mentoring, so this year I'm setting aside extra time to do what I can to help others innovate successfully. 
What are your Entrepreneurial Resolutions for the New Year?

by Scott Hampton on August 23rd, 2013

The trend I most hate in my country is the way that we are no longer citizens, we are merely consumers. We are no longer a public with shared goods and services which we improve to leave in trust to our children, hoping that their futures will be better than our present. We are just customers, and are supposed to care only about our own fates and experiences, with no concerns for the greater good or the future, and share neither rights nor obligations among ourselves. 

Once upon a time we transformed ourselves, with great tumult, into a country which expanded the franchise to all. We created programs so that there was a safety net, so that if you tried something new and it didn't work, you wouldn't lose all. We put in place systems to care for the old, the infirm, and the youngest among us. We dreamed that our children would have a better future.

We crossed the nation with railroads, then superhighways. Built great dams. Put a man on the moon. That is to say, we *changed* our lives though bold action and grand visions. 

Admittedly, grand visions also drove a lot of really wasteful and harmful things too, like the dispossession of the natives and the destruction of the landscape.

We know that our government has become a mere instrument of entrenched interests and casually invades the privacy of our communications. We know that almost all the wealth and resources in this grand country "belong" to a sub-fraction of our population, which has privatized away our shared securities and retreated to gated communities with private parks and private schools and private police.

We have become a feudal nation, rife with nepotism, and with the lowest social mobility ever. We are more controlled and less free than even our founders were under the rule of a mad king. Our children have less opportunities, more constraints, and more debt than anyone could ever have imagined.

And we have put more of our brothers and sisters into prisons than the most repressive regimes in the world.

We allowed ourselves to become a superficially rich version of a third world nation, with crumbling bridges (built by our parents and grandparents) that we are too cheap to maintain, schools that educated them intentionally impoverished through our mean-hearted refusal to share any of our own dwindling wealth so that the next generation is smart and ready for the challenges of the future, and we get together and brag about how smart we are for being fiscally prudent.

Then we spend our time arguing about how we can most efficiently prevent poor people from voting as we eliminate supports for their children, and we debate endlessly how we are going to humiliate rape victims, and THIS is our normal.

And what do we care about? Seemingly nothing.

We have the talent and the wealth to transform ourselves once again, to create the next generation economy of green power and jobs, to explore the moon and mars in person, and to extend to each of our fellows the care and courtesy of a companion in the struggle to leave the world a better place through our actions and our fellow-feeling.

What do you think our great-grandparents would think of us? 


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