New Health Innovation Practicum instructor Russell Benaroya, founder of EveryMove, authored the following guest blog for the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship. You can learn more about his ENTRE 445/545 course and other ways to prepare for the Health Innovation Challenge on the Buerk Center’s webpage, or by e-mailing Terri Butler at [email protected].
It wasn’t part of a grand plan. I didn’t know I would become an entrepreneur, however, I was bright-eyed enough to believe I could make a mark. In 2004, I left a seemingly stable (and parent pleasing) path of investment banking, business school, and venture capital to take a leap. I felt alive and powerful and confident. Reflecting back on the last 11 years has been a personal journey that I could never have imagined. Entrepreneurship has brought me face to face with my greatest hopes and my greatest struggles. It is in the most uncertain moments when one asks themselves if they are really made to “finish the game”. It is the test—when the chips are down—to see if one can separate their greatness from their circumstance and forge on. The what you do is much less important than the why or the how. The what provides context.
Entre 445/545 is about exploring the how and the why of making a mark as an entrepreneur in healthcare. My entrepreneurial vehicles have been across healthcare services and healthcare technology. In 2004, I started the clinical service business REM Medical to build centers of excellence for sleep medicine. That means opening up facilities where patients could be evaluated, diagnosed, and treated for any sleep disorder. I found myself neck deep on the front lines of clinical care. We just barely sold the business in 2009 (with a whole lot of drama) and in 2010, I started EveryMove—a digital health company designed to give consumer rewards from their health insurance plan for improving their fitness. With venture financing, strategic owners, and a healthcare industry in dire need of transformation, we sought to create an environment in healthcare where prevention is actually valued (crazy, I know!). In 2017, we sold the business to higi, the largest national operator of health screening kiosks in the United States. Today, I run corporate development for higi.
I believe the Pacific Northwest is a catalyst for healthcare innovation. The ingredients are here to make a dramatic impact on improving outcomes while controlling costs. That only happens if we as entrepreneurs become the agents of change.
Prior to entrepreneurship, I was an investment banker in New York at Salomon Smith Barney and then worked for a private equity firm (and one of its portfolio companies) for 5 years. I received my MBA at the Anderson School at UCLA.