As Commercialization Officer for the Seattle global health non-profit PATH, Noah Perin observed a big gap in the worldwide healthcare market. Medical professionals in developing countries didn’t have access to innovative products, and innovators were struggling to sell their devices in new markets.
He decided to create a solution, a global platform that would function “like the Amazon of the medical supply world.”
Perin founded VIA Global Health in April 2015 with Brendan Lilly, a business development and technology exec who previously worked on the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations.
VIA Global Health connects healthcare equipment suppliers with distributors around the world to make it easier for underserved regions to access the quality products.
“VIA is re-inventing the global healthcare supply chain with our mission to increase awareness and access to health technologies in the developing world,” said Perin.
We caught up with Perin for this installment of Startup Spotlight, a regular GeekWire feature. Continue reading for his answers to our questionnaire.
Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “Universal access to the health equipment that enables quality care.”
Inspiration hit us when: “Two flashbulbs popped at different moments that catalyzed the creation of VIA.
First, working with brilliant and passionate medical device innovators who were struggling to scale their products and become commercially viable. Healthcare providers loved their products, but not enough knew they existed or knew how to get them.
Second, was working with dedicated healthcare providers around the world, and routinely being asked, ‘we love the product you’re introducing, but could you also help us get X, Y and Z?’ Clearly, there was a need at both ends – innovators that want to sell products and healthcare systems that want to buy them. They just needed an efficient platform to facilitate that connection, and hence VIA Global Health was born.”
VC, Angel, or Bootstrap: ” Bootstrap, Angel, and grants. We’re grateful to our friends and family, and the Washington Global Health Alliance that supported us early on to build the VIA distribution platform. We’re in the process of closing out our seed round and using that fuel to rev the engine!”
Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “Access to medical equipment is about relationships – with suppliers and buyers. Our team has over two decades of experience in emerging markets, and we leverage that deep understanding to build trust and relationships with partners. VIA is a technology platform designed to scale relationships and facilitate international trade.”
The smartest move we’ve made so far: “Focus, focus, focus. Geographically, feature set, platform. The ocean is just too darn big to boil all at once. But we’ll get there.”
The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “Ran out of fingers counting … though even the big mistakes have been little steps forward. We’re navigating into the unknown and every move illuminates a little more of the map.”
Would you rather have Gates, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “We’re pretty lucky to have Gates and Bezos in our backyard, and VIA has sprouted in the shadows of both. Since VIA sits at the intersection of Global Health and e-commerce, can we get a mind meld of both of them?”
Our favorite team-building activity is: “Anything outside. Or involving good food. Or both.”
The biggest thing we look for when hiring is: “Passion for making a sustainable difference. We’re a growth company looking to make our world better. International trade in emerging markets is just too frustrating if you’re not being driven by a greater purpose (hence why we’re not trying to sell TVs in Namibia).”
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “I think there needs to be that niggling little worm in the back of your mind that asks, ‘why hasn’t anyone done this before?’ And when you find the answer, you’ll know why you’re the right person for the job.”