Industry: Health care
Name(s) of the founding student: Mariana Arnaut
Brief description of the solution: Healnergy is a digital cancer care platform that makes life easier for cancer patients and healthcare providers. Our survivorship care platform guides patients in remission through their daily lives with cancer. By answering a short questionnaire about their cancer, treatments, side effects, emotional well-being, and lifestyle, patients receive a personalized care program that includes wellness recommendations, educational content, and access to care guides they can talk to. and ask questions.
Funding Dollars: n/a
What led you to start this venture?? I am passionate about innovation and well-being. Doing the MBA motivated me to take a deeper look at what problems in the world I could try to solve. I have several cases of cancer in my close circle of family and friends and have personally witnessed the gaps in the healthcare system. After much research and reflection, it made sense to embark on an adventure in the field of oncology and digital health. I feel that my personal experience motivates me to keep going and to be extremely ambitious and resilient.
What has been your greatest achievement so far with Venture? Seeing the interest that exists in our solution. We talk to a lot of users and getting them to validate our solution is amazing. When a cancer caregiver tells me: “I wish my mom, who recently died of cancer, had access to Healnergy”, it fills my heart with joy and motivation to carry out this endeavor. We have two healthcare providers interested in being our launch partners in early 2023. This confirms that there is a need and that we are solving it.
How has your MBA program helped you propel this new venture? The MBA has helped me launch Healnergy in three ways. First, it gave me time away from my job at KPMG to think about what I want to do with my career and what kind of leader I want to be. Second, it gave me access to best-in-class academic experience and knowledge. During the MBA I got a refresher on the core areas of business management and I apply this knowledge on a daily basis: financial models, marketing, management, strategy and accounting. I must confess that, in the last few months, I have reviewed my MBA class notes several times! Third, it opened the doors to a huge network of students and alumni from all over the world. It’s amazing how sharing the HEC brand can make a cold LinkedIn message so much better – 100% of the alumni/students I contacted responded to me.
What founder or entrepreneur inspired you to start your own entrepreneurial journey? How did he or she turn out to motivate you? I can’t say there was a specific founder/entrepreneur that motivated me to start Healnergy. I am constantly looking for stories of other founders to learn from them. Recently, I was inspired by the story of ClassPass founder Payal Kadakia and Bumble founder Whitney Wolfe Herd. The startup ecosystem is dominated by men: female founders raised just 2% of VC money in 2021. Hearing stories of strong female founders going against all odds gives me the drive and guts to keep working on Healnergy.
What MBA class has been most valuable in building your startup, and what was the most important lesson you learned from it? Michel Safars’ Advanced Entrepreneurship class was the most useful class for me. He is a very experienced and motivated teacher, and the way he focused his class on talking more about the soft skills of entrepreneurship instead of talking about what are the exciting trends in startups right now, really prepared me for the situations. I’ve been through during the launch. my business. His most valuable lectures were on how to create a winning strategy and business model, what to look for when recruiting the founding team, and what it means to be a startup founder and CEO (the behind-the-scenes, non-glamorous version).
This was all applied in parallel: we went through a startup simulation. For 3 months I was the CEO of a startup that sold image analysis software developed by the Institut Pasteur. My team included three other students who held the roles of CTO, CFO, and CMO. If I have to pick one key takeaway, it was this hands-on experience of being a startup CEO. I started working at Healnergy right after that term, so I had the “how to build a startup from scratch” recipe in my head from the simulation at HEC.
Which teacher made a significant contribution to your plans and why? Mehdi Medjaoui, who taught a class called “Zero to One” that was part of HEC’s Entrepreneurship specialization, has been a tireless adviser. He recently stopped teaching to pursue his own startup, Alias.dev, full-time, so his experience as his founder couldn’t be more relevant. He has a background in technology that greatly complements my skill gaps.
How has your local startup ecosystem contributed to the development and success of your business? Being part of the startup ecosystem is very important. I have the opportunity to participate in two ecosystems: the French one (since I live in Paris) and the Portuguese one (where I am from). Networking is key to the development of a startup. It helps to access talent, investment and new opportunities. There is nothing better than a warm introduction to a prospective investor or key employee. It sets the mood for that relationship and sets you on a successful path. Personally, I have been trying to network as much as possible with other healthcare founders in France and Portugal. Learning from their stories, validating my assumptions, and sharing our networks has been extremely helpful.
What is your long-term goal with your startup? A platform of care for survivors is our entry point into a larger vision. We want to be the default cancer care platform that makes life easier for patients and healthcare providers. Cancer is for life, as is the support our platform provides. We want to help cancer patients at every step of their journey: prevention, detection, diagnosis, treatment, and referral. In the next 5 years, we plan to expand our presence throughout Europe.