Karl EtzelWellness, human performance, and tech.
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Energized by the power of APIs to enable better fitness and health tech solutions. Experienced operator & executive, strong product development and business strategy background.



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Everyone likes innovation and will rah-rah for it until it gores their ox. The misalignment of incentives and innovation is always the biggest problem. Technology challenges can always be beaten into submission. Real innovation is by definition upsetting to the status quo, and it takes intestinal fortitude on the part of the leadership (not management, _leadership_) to face the incentive issue and get the org properly aligned around change.



I would look into Stripe they seem to be leading the way in developer tools / APIs for payment services.


I spent a few years at Intel's Digital Health Group (we had a phalanx of PhD's and MD's on staff trying to answer your question). As others have mentioned, this is a very crowded and complicated space. Even more so if the device needs FDA approval. Since you lack deep domain knowledge, step 1 is finding a partner (ideally a clinician with many years experience) who has it, and also has a nose for business opportunity. Let them guide you toward a problem that needs solving.



I went through something similar trying to sell a B2B PaaS company. A few comments:

1. Fees were structured as a small retainer up front and upon a transaction, either a % of the deal or a flat fee whichever was less. So the M&A firm was guaranteed a minimum amount for closing a deal. The retainer was about 20% of the minimum amount upon execution of a sale. The % fee for the M&A firm was tiered so that it dropped if the sale price was above a certain level.

2. Make sure you put in place a carve out for any potential acquirers you already have a relationship with or are talking to.

3. Watch closely to make sure they are able to get the right conversations with the right people quickly. It's a warning sign if they struggle to get calls returned.

4. Depending on how you structure it and how well plugged into the industry you are, you might consider working with a banker or getting advice from your existing "team" ( Board, investors, etc.) and just letting them advise you vice paying an M&A firm. This is sort of related to my earlier point in watching out for whether you are already talking to the right acquirers yourself (you said there has already been interest, so perhaps this is the case).

5. Assuming you are the CEO, plan to invest a lot of time in this yourself no matter who you hire or how you structure it. IOW you'll spend less time & attention running the business while you run this process instead. Make sure you are OK with this, and that your Board is as well.

Good luck, have fun, and let me know if you'd like to talk further.


LA has a growing tech scene. Santa Monica is my favorite part of the greater LA area. Irvine/Orange County, and Austin, TX should be on your list too.


Having worked in B2B for much of my career, I have seen this handled a variety of ways. Here's my perspective.

This is likely a highly ambiguous situation with important potential downside. Make one of these SIs angry and you jeopardize a big sale. Fail to capitalize on the publicity, lose traction. High severity/high ambiguity means it's a question for your CEO.

Factors to consider: how sensitive is your industry and these SIs to revealing technology providers? How many leads do you have in the hopper that will be swayed? How important is it to have the SIs mentioned on your website, vice perhaps having the name dropped "accidentally" in conversation with a new prospect? To what degree are these SI's "partners" vs. customers?

In most _sales_ contracts I've signed there has been language about use of the customer company logo and whether it can be revealed that we were selling to the customer. In the world of web APIs, where ecosystem enablement is important and it is truly more a partnership, many companies are more promiscuous with letting their name be used and they have simple guidelines for doing so published on their website. Happy to jump on a call and help you work through this in more detail.


I worked in Intel's Digital Health Group for a few years and my experience was that anything involving hospitals will be slower and take longer than you think. I can't possibly imagine a customer facing trial happening without a face to face meeting and some training. Lots of people can say no - the CFO, the CEO, the CMO, CIO, the head of nursing - and none can completely say yes. Granted, this market has changed a lot in the years since I left it, and it is getting more nimble, but be prepared for a drawn out process. And I'd budget for some plane tickets.


I owned an SMB in the health & fitness space and spent several years running a SaaS/PaaS startup in the business productivity space. There are lots of WP developers out there, I'd start by looking at elance. Have you done mockups so the developer can accurately quote the work? It's worth a little design expense up front to make sure your vision is communicated clearly.

I'd also make very certain that an off the shelf solution won't work. Zenplanner and Mindbodyonline are two cloud-based CRM/studio management solutions tailored for fitness businesses, I assume you've ruled those out. There are many generic SaaS CRM solutions out there as well so I'd really make sure that the "ideal" experience is really that much better than "good enough". I used MBOnline and it was not perfect but it certainly didn't hold back my business.

I'd also recommend finding someone else in your space who has what you want for customer experience, and just ask what they use. Assuming they are not a competitor they will probably be forthcoming with the info.

Happy to jump on a call if you'd like to discuss further.


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