Tech Tonics: Ken Tarkoff – Back to the Future of Medicine in a Brave New World of Data
We have had numerous guests on Tech Tonics who went to medical school only to find their way into non-medical roles. But Ken Tarkoff, whose original career plan was to follow his father into medicine, chose the long way.
Ken took the road to the dark side early into investment banking, joining a pretty legendary team at Montgomery Securities; he had a foray into venture capital where he got to see the making of the entrepreneurial sausage from the other side. And he worked in healthcare companies that were, in the 80’s and 90’s, building businesses around case rates, capitated risk, narrow networks all the various healthcare payment models that are back in vogue today – a true exercise in back to the future thinking. But in the end, it all brought Ken back to medicine, where he is now CEO of Syapse, Inc. a company working to leverage data and doctors in a brave new world of medicine and monetization models (Note: Syapse is an investment of GE Ventures).
Syapse is square in the mix of a large field of companies capitalizing on the marriage of technology, genomics and health data – a triple play that would give the Houston Astros a run for their money. But with so many companies in the precision medicine field looking like well-funded science experiments, there are only a handful doing things that are truly actionable today at the individual patient level. Ken joined Syapse because he felt it a meaningful way of translating his childhood goal of being a doctor into an oncologist’s trusted asset and plan to make a difference for patients at scale.
Ken notes that a key learning from all of his experience on both sides of the board room is this: “Yes, team is essential. But you can have an A management team and a B concept and you will still fail. You have to build a company to scale from the very beginning and start on the journey from a great idea to a mature operation from the first day.”
Thanks to Ken for joining us on Tech Tonics today.
We are grateful to GE Ventures for sponsorship of today’s episode. GE Ventures scales ideas and grows companies that advance industries and improve lives.