founder

Nicolette Founder Phil Martie on Empowering Patients and Their Families

Introduction

Medical professionals undergo extensive training in order to provide the best care possible. But patients don’t always have the training or information available to successfully navigate their own healthcare. As a result, they might not have a full understanding of what their options are and which decisions are best for their health. This can potentially cost patients their money and their health.

Nicolette aims to solve this problem by informing patients and their caregivers, giving them confidence to choose the best care possible. The company’s first product, NicoBoard, is designed for parents of newborn intensive care unit (NICU) babies. Its features allow parents to educate themselves, make informed decisions, and share their journey with others through videos, diary entries, and more. We reached out to co-founder and CEO Phil Martie to gain insight into the inspiration behind the company and how the team came together.

Note: This interview was conducted over phone and email. It has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Zee Zhong

In your own words, how would you describe your company?

Phil Martie

Nicolette’s mission is to empower patients and their families to be at the center of care. Our technology transforms raw health data into tools that provide them with the competence and confidence to self-advocate and make quality decisions, improving outcomes and reducing costs for all stakeholders.

Zee Zhong

What inspired you to take the leap and start this company?

Phil Martie

My wife and I had extremely premature twins. They were 15 weeks early. For the first time in my life, I felt powerless. There was very little we were equipped to do when it came to caring for our children, yet the opportunities were there for us if we had been empowered with success tools. When I learned that customer success tools are not generally available for patients and, in fact, patients are not viewed as customers, I knew I had to try and change this. 

There are many people who have lost a loved one as I did, but few are in a position to use the experience to create change and reduce these occurrences. I founded Nicolette because I view it as both a privilege and a responsibility to lead the change that is so clearly needed.

Zee Zhong

Who is on your team and how did you come together?

Phil Martie

Putting together a team was a straightforward and organic process. I had a very strong vision for the patient experience and how to approach designing the interface. I knew I would need medical expertise and product chops to get started, and that made things easy because I already knew the two people I trusted most in the world to help: Michel Mikhael and Seth Brickman. The only thing left to do was ask them to join me, and fortunately, they did! 

Trust was the most important factor for me in choosing co-founders. This is the most meaningful professional endeavor I’ve ever pursued, and I needed to work with people I had seen perform. Michel is Nicolette’s chief medical officer. I met him about a month into the NICU journey, and he quickly became one of the most trusted people in my life because he oversaw the care of my son and worked very closely with us in a focused, transparent, and communicative way. He is the perfect partner to help build the bridge between patient and provider. Seth is our chief product officer. I worked with him over the years when he was at Microsoft and I was at Canon and knew he was a smart, hardworking product and operations superstar.

Zee Zhong

How is Nicolette transforming healthcare for newborns?

Phil Martie

Nicolette transforms healthcare for NICU infants by putting the family at the center of care. Our NICU product, NicoBoard, transforms raw health data into consumable, actionable insights, rapid education, and participation tools. Parents quickly form a strong foundation of working knowledge and self-confidence that empowers them to work as a part of the NICU team in decision making, infant care, development, and growth. This in turn helps the baby hit milestones sooner, and parents are ready to be home sooner as well.

Zee Zhong

What is your business model and future product roadmap?

Phil Martie

Health systems pay a subscription fee to Nicolette for use of the product. Parents never pay, and they never need to self-discover the app. It is provided to them by the NICU team as a part of care. 

Our roadmap scales the product in two ways:

  • Horizontally: Expanding from the NICU to other inpatient applications first and then to outpatient and wellness.
  • Vertically: Incrementally billable features will be added, such as telehealth, that can be unlocked for additional subscription fees.
Zee Zhong

What does the competitive landscape look like, and how do you differentiate?

Phil Martie

Most digital health innovations are made for administration and clinical workflow. If there is a patient-facing component, it is of low or negative value to them, e.g. electronic health record (EHR) portals. Nicolette builds tools that are specifically and only for patients, empowering them to self-advocate, not attempting to manage them or pacify them with “access.” 

This is a breakthrough approach for democratizing health data for patients, who are lay people. It’s the same thing Microsoft Windows did to democratize personal computing. We think this is the most important thing to address in healthcare today.

Zee Zhong

How do you intend to use the money you raise this round to scale the business?

Phil Martie

We will use this funding to scale the business in three ways:

  • NICU Growth: Sales and marketing required to grow the NICU business with hospitals and insurance companies.
  • Horizontal Product Expansion: Scale from zero to one in new inpatient areas, becoming a house-wide inpatient solution.
  • Vertical Product Expansion: Additional billable features, starting with virtual rounding telehealth solutions.
Zee Zhong

What do you want potential investors to know about you and/or your company?

Phil Martie

We are the right founders for this mission. We go deep in the patient and provider experiences and have a strong vision for how we will build a patient-centered future for healthcare. We also have the skills it takes to execute.

Zee Zhong

As you think about the business 5-10 years down the road, what do you see exit opportunities looking like? Have you set any future goals for the company?

Phil Martie

I believe the best path to exit is via acquisition by a large player in one of three categories:

  • Payers: Insurance companies will find strategic value in empowering their members with technology, specifically when it comes to reducing medical costs, improving member net promoter score, and positioning themselves as innovative partners to both governments and private employers. 
  • EHRs: EHR platforms will acquire based on strategic value to their prospects and existing customers. Our technology exponentially multiplies the value of the EHR by unlocking the value of the data inside. This will enable better competitive positioning, increase the product portfolio, and improve margins.
  • Tech Platforms: The largest tech platforms like Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft are entering healthcare in a big way, and that will be a data-centric method. They have struggled to date in building transformative tools because the approach has been either for patients or for clinicians. Our tech is patient-focused yet sold to providers and payers, so the tech flows through to patients as a part of care.

We are excited to see where Phil and his team take the company. Nicolette is currently raising on Wefunder.

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