Business Speed Dating

I spent the last week in San Francisco for the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference during which 25,000 individuals from across the healthcare sector descend upon the bay area. Startups, publicly-traded companies, investors, advisors, doctors, bankers and more all come west to attend presentations and meetings by day and cocktail parties and dinners by night. My calendar was packed with back-to-back 30 minute and hour long meetings – It is a little like speed dating for business. You meet with an interesting medical device company who is looking to raise capital followed by a meeting with an investor looking for an innovative medical device company that will put his money to work. My job is to introduce the two parties in hopes that I can generate a fee on any transactions that come to fruition. So while I participate in the speed dating, I am more of the matchmaker. After a long day of meetings, the ‘festivities’ begin. Many service providing companies such as law firms, private equity firms and banks including Mesirow, will host cocktail parties, occupying all the local bars and hotels, creating what is referred to as “the circuit.” This sort of evening speed dating entails quicker discussions, often sharing more ideas to spur business and investment.

Throughout the week, we met with some pretty interesting companies and a slew of investors. One company, Medsphere, has created an open-source electronic health record platform, employing the core code built by the VA that they were able to duplicate for free by taking advantage of the Freedom of Information Act. Ironically enough, they are now pursuing a Department of Defense grant, essentially taking technology from one branch of the government and selling it to another. Another company has developed a software and service platform to offer a telepharmacy service that would save hospitals a significant amount of time and money. All the while, hospitals such as North Shore LIJ are implementing venture arms that will provide capital for new technologies that will utilized by in their network as well as others. This corporate VC model is fascinating as the investors are also major customers, adding value in twofold. Innovation is slowly but surely finding its way into the healthcare industry and it will be exciting to see the significant changes that are ahead. Conferences such as this, while hectic and fast-paced, create opportunities to share ideas and promote growth for all constituents.

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NYC Apartment Hunt

Searching for an apartment in New York could not be more of a pain in the ass. After deciding I was not going to renew my current lease in the middle of July, I first notified my management and immediately began to look for a new apartment for a 9/1 move-in. Turns out the September inventory does not get released until partway through August. This makes sense for listings where the tenant is unsure if they will renew until the last minute (30 days) but why are there not listings any sooner? My current apartment, for example, has now technically been “on the market” for almost a month and its not posted online and has not been shown once. In most cities, management companies pay brokers as an incentive to fill vacancies but in NYC broker fees are most often paid for by the tenant and in some cases they are even paid to brokers who have done NOTHING at all. My building uses an exclusive broker, which means that even if I told my friend there was an opening for a 3-bedroom, showed him the building and he were to then apply, my friend would still have to pay a broker.

I had spent a few months working on an idea with a buddy of mine which I can most easily compare to new site Renthackr which allows users to post listings of their soon to be available apartments. While Renthackr does not solve the problem of brokers in NYC, it is a step in the right direction. Another idea we had come across during our research was JumpPost, which would pay tenants $500 to post their upcoming vacancy. While the founders of JumpPost ended up taking the company in a different direction, they claimed to have early success and decent traction. Sites like these are pioneers for a necessary change and in the meantime there are plenty of apartment listings which dont require paying a broker fee. What Ive discovered however, is that the rent essentially factors in a broker fee. For example, an apartment that would go for $3,500/month using a 15% broker fee would cost $4,025 pro rata; the same apartment listed without a broker would likely rent for around $4K as well. The whole process is a crap shoot but if you’re like me and are morally opposed to paying unnecessary broker fees, here are a few management companies and articles to check out.

Icon Realty

Landmark Resources

Stone Street Properties

Jakobson Properties

Sky Management

Brodsky 

8 No-fee Websites