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Ep13: Chris Bergstrom, CEO Amalgam RX

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Transcript

0:03 Eugene Borukhovich 

Welcome to the Digital Therapeutics Edition of Digital Health Today. I’m your host, Eugene Borukhovich.¬†

In the last episode, I had the pleasure to speak with Melinda Decker, chief commercial officer of Mymee. Mymee has been laser-focused on autoimmune diseases, and only recently launched the COVID Long Haul Program, which is helping individuals who were previously diagnosed with COVID and who experience ongoing symptoms that often resemble the health issues seen in people with chronic autoimmune diseases. 

In this episode, I’m excited to speak with one of the earliest trailblazers, Chris Bergstrom, president of AmalgamRx. I actually had to look up “amalgam”, which according to Google means a mixture or a blend. Well indeed, Amalgam is a new blend of DTx. One would even say it’s not a DTx– that “one” would be Chris himself.¬†

But before we dive in, I met Chris in LA a few years back in a venture building pitch with BCG. Chris’ experience in life sciences and trailblazing in the DTx space at Welldoc brought huge value to that discussion, and I was impressed by his succinct way of boiling down complex messages. And now we jump to my conversation with Chris.¬†

I’m here with Chris Bergstrom, president of AmalgamRx. So tell us a little bit about yourself, because we want our listeners to get to know the trailblazers behind the voice of the podcast. Welcome.

1:38 Chris Bergstrom  

Yeah, Eugene, thanks for having me. Great to be here. So it’s been an interesting journey. You know, I’ve been in healthcare my whole career. When I left college, I literally said the only industry I don’t want to go into is healthcare. I based that on not enjoying biology class. Accidentally, I ended up in it, and it’s been just a phenomenal ride. I had no idea the difference we could make in so many ways.¬†

I mean, I’m an entrepreneur at heart. I was doing classic life sciences (pharma, med tech diagnostics) and most often as a brand manager. Essentially, I was pushing my product–¬† “hey, buy this product, don’t buy that product.” I had the opportunity around 2006, to do a true “voice of the customer” project, where we went out not looking for anything, just trying to understand what we were missing and what needed to be solved that hadn’t been. We interviewed almost 200 stakeholders across the US and Europe, almost all in person– so doctors, patients, nurses, parents, kids, anyone in the ecosystem– and we synthesized all that information. It was really amazing.¬†

This is all we talk about today in 2021, but in 2006, it just was not. How do we get the right data to the right people at the right place at the right time? More importantly, how do we turn the data into information, knowledge, actions and outcomes? All I knew was that that was something that didn’t really exist as far as I knew in healthcare. We were going to need to pull in technologies that we didn’t normally use, such as wireless technology, big data science– we didn’t even use the term big data back then. That began a journey for me. That changed my career.

 

3:32 Eugene Borukhovich  

From that perspective, because we are on a DTx podcast, what was your entry point? I know you’ve spent some earlier days at Welldoc, but what drove you to the DTx industry? I guess at the time, it wasn’t even called the DTx industry.

3:48 Chris Bergstrom   

We didn’t know what to call it; I remember writing press releases, and thinking, do we call this e-health? What do we call it? I think it was a combination of understanding that need and saying, well, somehow, we need to have digital that helps patients.¬†

Coming from my life sciences background, I brought two views to the table, right or wrong: one, that providers were really important and had to be part of the equation too. Two, [I brought] a little bit of a life sciences business model– again, right or wrong. In the journey of trying to figure out how to solve this problem, I met the founders of Welldoc, and I was blown away by the fact that they had shown that software could be as powerful as a drug. Anand Iyer, who I know and has been on the podcast before, he was actually my consultant to help me understand wireless technology. He and I became so enamored with Welldoc that we couldn’t stay away and we jumped in head over heels.¬†

Wow, what a journey– being on the frontier, getting all the arrows in your back, and just having fun. Good thing we didn’t know what we didn’t know! People said, “this will never work, you won’t get FDA clearance and no one will use it; you won’t get it paid for.” Each of those comments was about a two-year process to solve for. Not literally, luckily, but not that far off. I’ll give you an example. We needed a code for reimbursement, and I filed all the appropriate documentation with the FDA to get a code as you would with, say, a drug. I got nothing– crickets. I went down, got my car, drove to DC, went to Senator McCluskey’s office (she was in charge of the FDA at the time), and explained what was going on. Luckily, a week later, we had our code. These are the entrepreneurial things you have to do.¬†

In another example, we went to a very large national payer and explained the product. They said, “oh, okay, this sounds like it would make a lot of sense. We’ll go ahead and put it on formulary.” And we’re like, this is great. The next day, they called me and said, “we don’t see any prescriptions. So this isn’t even worth our time and hassle to put it on formulary.” It became this chicken and egg [problem]. That was part of the journey. But then by October 1, 2014, we had our first script go through, and be billed and paid. It was a fun, groundbreaking time.

5:56 Eugene Borukhovich  

Yeah. I’m just thinking about [being] an entrepreneur, getting in the car, having enough “cajones” (since I’m here in Barcelona) to drive to a senator’s office or a representative’s office and ask these questions. It’s interesting, because you didn’t go into the detail of your own background– I know you spent time at larger companies as well, like BCG, but you just contrasted that with getting in the car and trying to get your code. Maybe you can contrast for our listeners, driving things as an entrepreneur versus working either with corporates or as an intrapreneur. I’d love to get your thoughts on this.



6:37 Chris Bergstrom  

A lot of it is about timing. In an entrepreneurial setting, you can control your own timing– how much risk do we want to take, and how fast do we want to go. In a big company, their risk profile has generally been established. It varies by company, but you have to work within that risk profile, and that’s usually very driven by timing. In 2006, a medical company I was working in was too averse (and wisely so) to want to get into this. So we said we would go do it outside.¬†

When I was at BCG, there were two things that were such an awesome part of the journey that I couldn’t get in my own company: one, the ability to influence the decision-makers in healthcare. On a weekly basis, I was meeting with the CEOs of the world’s largest healthcare companies, able to talk with them where we saw things going, and what their role could be.¬†

When I look back– I was there 2015-2020, and in 2015, they were like, “why is Chris in the room?” 2016: “Okay, I know you need to be here. I don’t know why, but I’m really ready to listen.” 2017: I was appointed to vice president, [they were like] “he’s got a small budget, can you work with him or her to figure out what this is all about? What it means to us?” 2018: Okay, we were a larger team with a bigger budget and we were going to try a few things internally and externally. In 2019, we realized we failed at a bunch of stuff [and were asking], what can we learn in 2020? We’re back out the door with those learnings, and here we are in 2021. That’s a really normal progression of what can happen.¬†

Also, in a big company, like a BCG, I can grab 50 people or a 100 people within 48 hours and apply them to a project. These are some of the most talented people in the world, so that’s cool. But being in the entrepreneurial seat, driving your own destiny, hiring your favorite people, and spending on what you want to spend– having your focus. I also think importantly, at least compared to a BCG, you can build your own IP. In the case of Amalgam, we’re lending that IP out to others, which is a sustainable enabler of things like scale. So that’s exciting. It’s not just a labor-driven business.

8:39 Eugene Borukhovich  

I just wish we could combine it, because that five-year journey of, “oh, well, let’s do this,” is a five-week journey at a startup. I’d love to just scale on demand. But that’s a whole other podcast on its own.

8:54 Chris Bergstrom  

You know, it’s one thing that we are doing. We have a “startup full of grown-ups,” I say. We’ve done big stuff, we’ve done little stuff, and hopefully are bringing those best practices together under our roof and bringing the best of big companies and small companies together. With that experience, maybe we can do something.

9:13 Eugene Borukhovich  

That’s a perfect segue into amalgam. So you’ve known the founders, you’ve built a company before with them, and they’ve been added now for about five years or so. Tell me a little bit about who you guys are, and what took you so long to join Ryan and team.

 

9:36 Chris Bergstrom  

So one, I was having fun at BCG for the reasons I mentioned. But I always had that itch to get back to something. What I was personally looking for was a company that was aligned to my passion, which is to prove to the world that digital health could work. Then once I was part of that process– it’s been for the last seven years, scaling digital health– how do we help the world scale? Amalgam was very aligned to that vision. I waited, maybe hedging my bet, until I thought that they had the pieces of the puzzle and the capability to actually deliver on that vision. When that happened, it made sense, and I couldn’t stay away, and I jumped in.¬†

What are we focused on? Our vision is to scale digital health. We know we can’t do that alone, so a lot of it is, how do we bring parties together, in ways that they maybe weren’t able to do before? How do we bring providers and life sciences companies together? Oftentimes, there’s good and bad and structural reasons why there are challenges to working together. But most things in healthcare that have scaled involve life sciences and involve providers. We’re very passionate about that. We think we can support that with some assets that we have.¬†

We bring real-world evidence to the table. We have billions and billions of real-time, real-world evidence data points, which allows a lot of things to be unlocked– retrospectively, prospectively, and empowering other products. We have a product tech stack that we can allow other people to build great products; we can build those ourselves for them. We know how to integrate, and we have the tools and capabilities and assets to integrate it into the provider workflow. We can talk more about that. We do all of this generally, in a very secure, compliant, regulatory QMS way, so that we have flexibility– if we need to be regulated, we can be. That’s who we are, what we’re passionate about, and what we’re doing. We’ve been pretty quiet, so not a lot of people know about us. I think they’d be surprised at what we’re doing.

11:25 Eugene Borukhovich  

I can’t wait to continue peeling that onion in this discussion, because peripherally I’ve been watching you guys, but I think it would help to make sense out of it. Maybe we’ll start with the originating team, because I’m sure you’ve been in the conversations from the beginning. Can we talk a little bit about what is the DTx business? What was the original hypothesis of the company and how did it evolve?

11:53 Chris Bergstrom  

It was a bit of a two-step. Number one, how do we build a company that’s self-funded almost from the beginning, so that we have the flexibility to move where we believe in and where we’re passionate about? The company was able to do that by saying, what are we, the founders and some of the initial team, very good at? That was building digital therapies. So they said, can we build a business almost immediately based on a decade of experience building digital therapies? They were able to do so.¬†

For the last four, going on five, years, we’ve grown top-line revenues (triple digits) and have been able to control our own destiny– funded with friends and family originally, and now self-funded. That’s been great. What it allowed us to do was build capabilities, build a team, and have a sure footing. But we’re looking at what is around the corner, because that’s what really gets us out of bed. In our past lives, it was digital therapies and what was possible. What is now the thing that gets us out of bed? We began to say it was definitely how we help people scale. Because if we just try and scale our own solutions– even 10 or 20 of them– that doesn’t change the world. It’s really not a pivot, but a progression of where the company started– and here we are today.¬†

For at least 10 years, almost every day, I told someone my opinion and view of what a digital therapy was– helping define this term that, when we started, there was no term for it. Luckily, I wasn’t the only one. But there were very, very few people for many years that were doing this. I thought that was important because you have to get your head around it to allow it to become something.¬†

I think it’s time to retire the term digital therapy. To me, it’s like when you have a teenager. I had this teenager, this DTx, and now it’s 15 years old; it’s time to let them go and define who they are. Sometimes they’re going to be a soccer player, a student, a business person, a friend. That’s what we’re beginning to see in digital, which is that the lines are blurring. Things are changing rapidly. We know it works, we don’t need to call it a certain thing– we need to define what value we were solving for. The value use case will be A, and then it’ll be B, and then it’ll be C. And we will bring a variety of evolving digital solutions, and non-digital solutions, to solve that. So I think it’s time to define value and a little less on what “it” is.

14:20 Eugene Borukhovich  

My two cents on it: for the longest time I’ve been saying that every new sub-industry or industry needs some kind of buzzword. It’s been digital health, and I think everything got packed into it. And then subsets of it– clinically-validated, evidence-based– it’s a digital therapeutic. At the end of the day, it’s a therapeutic, and just because it’s digital, that means nothing (to a certain extent). I’m on the same page. Funnily enough, I saw a tweet, I think it was from Vishal Gulati, which said, “who cares what it’s called, as long as it has outcomes, and it’s making money for people.” I don’t think at that point that anybody’s going to care what it’s actually called.¬†

I think you sort of get bundled into this digital therapeutic as a company, and I’ve noticed on your website, it doesn’t even say DTx. You say you’re a SaMD platform company, a patient support company. I know you have a pipeline of your own digital therapeutics that you guys were pursuing. So maybe you– as a commercial lead and now the president of the company– can talk a little bit about the DTx being retired in your case, and how you guys are approaching the market.¬†

15:36 Chris Bergstrom  

Yeah, you’re making me feel guilty, the website is months out of date about who we are and what we’re doing and what we need to communicate. It’s a classic case of, we’re helping others and probably should focus a little time on our own website and communication. But most of the dialogue isn’t happening with people coming to the website, it’s about people that we’re working with and helping. We can do these things– patient support programs, digital therapies– we do do them. What we’re really focused on is bringing our assets of real-world evidence, the building blocks of building products, and integrating them in the workflow like no one else has ever done. And to do so within a secure, regulated (if necessary) environment, and to allow a startup, a pharma company, a payer, Apple– whomever we can help– to do that (in many cases, in conjunction of fitting into the provider workflow). Not always, but oftentimes, it’s something that we think is important to scale. So when we get back to updating the website, it’ll communicate something more along those lines.

 

16:36 Eugene Borukhovich  

But while it’s not updated, I think what you just described is that there are digital therapies, and you’re helping others, but the mission of the company has evolved, which is interesting to see. I’m trying to demystify for our listeners, what is a digital therapeutic? In the context of Amalgam, maybe you can talk about the experience for the outside end user? To me, when you described the end user, it could be a multitude of stakeholders. So unlike a DTx product that gets marketed in its own channels, maybe you can just describe who are your actual end users, and what does that experience look like?

17:20 Chris Bergstrom  

Our end users range pretty broadly. They can be patients (we have millions of patients benefiting from our products), they can be providers, they can be B2B people, people running clinical trials, brand team managers– we’re able to have all of them as the end user. It depends on the tool. We have a tech stack that’s designed to be extensible across different diseases and use cases. There are features that face the patient, the provider, enterprise business intelligence tools, and we’ve designed it to be able to scale globally. So when we go from one country to the next, even non-technology engineers like myself can go in and click a toggle switch; okay, we’re going from Portuguese to French, which is super cool. That’s just bringing our history, saying, “how can we do this better at scale?”¬†

I also think things are being done not only too slow and sometimes at lower quality, but at too high of a price. Think of Amazon. They brought parties together, they brought assets to help people enable the scale of commerce, but they really took the margin out of everything. I think that there’s a huge opportunity to do that. How do we help people accomplish all of this at– I think “cheaper” is the wrong word– but at a higher value and at not such high margins? Where we can take that margin and we can do more?

18:39 Eugene Borukhovich  

A predictable and fair price. The predictable part to me always matters.

18:44 Chris Bergstrom  

You can think of use cases that range from, “how do I help a patient manage their life better,” your classic digital therapy, to, “how do we allow providers to make clinical decisions?” We’re firing off hundreds of thousands of clinical decision support messages to providers every single day. That’s exciting. On a clinical trial, how do we help them uncover insights? How do we help them identify patients that should be in trials? How do we help them recruit them, e-consent them, and stay adherent in the trial? How do we create algorithms for new categories that have never existed before in a therapeutic area, where we can identify the algorithms so that we can publish it in the literature? We can let a physician or medical society know that this is the algorithm that best identifies the patients that are most appropriate for these therapies at that moment in time. I think we’re able to do that in a way that’s faster, using real world evidence in ways that weren’t possible in the past.



19:38 Eugene Borukhovich  

Amazing. You mentioned you come from life sciences, and you guys had your own pipeline: pre-FDA and immunology, oncology, and hypertension, etc. Can you talk about how that plays into the fuller picture as well?

19:55 Chris Bergstrom  

One thing we see is that some people are scaling horizontally. I think there are a lot of digital therapy companies that are saying we did a disease, now we’re doing another disease, and now another disease. I think where that evolves is that we eventually say, okay, Eugene, you have psoriasis and you have diabetes, and it’s quickly configured on the backend into a co-morbid solution for you. We’re not there yet, but at least we’re advancing towards enabling others to be able to do that.¬†

So some are doing this horizontally. We’re working a little more vertically on the scale, so how do we build out capabilities that allow people to do this horizontal scale? How do we build out capabilities that allow people to integrate into the clinical workflow? How do we allow capabilities for people to do their horizontal thing, in a supercharged way, so we’re able to take data from the EMR and put it into their solution, and vice versa? We’re looking at this vertical and a lot of people going horizontal, so it should be a nice marriage.

20:54 Eugene Borukhovich  

Super interesting. On that same note, I’m sure you’ve been reading Brian’s Exits & Outcomes, and a lot of these discussions go between PDT as a prescription DTx versus disease management 2.0. You mentioned companies that started with a particular vertical and they keep moving and enhancing. Where’s your head in thinking about prescription digital therapeutics in contrast with disease management 2.0? You alluded that things are changing in the lines of learning. (And I’ll put in the tertiary piece, that digital therapeutics should disappear, as a term.)

21:36 Chris Bergstrom  

One of my big “aha” [moments] is from 2020. I don’t know if others had figured this out for a long time, but I look back and I’m like, how did I miss this? We know that the world went from 7% telemedicine to 70% telemedicine in April and May. I look back and I realize that the world had to go through telemedicine sequentially– not in parallel to digital therapies and other things like that– in order to get to these other things many of us are passionate about and believe are higher value. I go back and I’m like, ah, yes, human behavior– I’ve been studying this and the sales process, we have it in our products, I should have known. Clinicians have to take the first step, which is, “here’s what I do every day; I’m just going to do that through a window, but I’m really doing the same thing.” That’s [seemingly] a very progressive step, but when they were forced to do it, they found it was actually not so challenging.¬†

[As an] aside, I’m usually pretty healthy and don’t have to use health care– knock on wood. Since the pandemic, I stopped traveling, I stopped having business dinners every night, and I tried to cook at home. I started a big kitchen fire and got second degree burns all over my hand and my arm. This was in late March, early April, where no one was going to the ER because they were saying “stay away, stay away.” So I did telemedicine with Hopkins. That was for burns! Most of us have thought [about] telemedicine [for] mental health, those kind of things, but he treated my burns through the window. That was so cool.¬†

But when you’re a provider, and you go, “Okay, that was cool. I did what I did. Maybe I give the patient a pamphlet or a sample– I don’t just send him out the door with nothing,” you begin to ask the question, “what else?” I think that’s where we begin to say, okay, we can now all work together: there’s telemedicine, then you might prescribe a digital therapy right after that. To me, that was super exciting. I didn’t realize we had to go through that. I’m glad we did it in less than a year.

23:42 Eugene Borukhovich  

Absolutely. There have been statements like, “10 decades in 10 days,” and things like that. I’ll try to put some words in your mouth– you don’t really see a differentiation, in the sense that it’s the right tool, or the right process, or the right thing for the right patient. It’s less about PDT or disease management 2.0; it’s what’s needed at the time for the end consumer.

24:03 Chris Bergstrom  

Yes, that’s the challenge. I 100% agree. Then the magic is, how do you actually implement getting the right tool in the right way and the right resource at the right time? I come from a marketing background, and I remember my first marketing mentor saying, “it’s all about the marketing mix.” Are you going to spend your money on seeing doctors, retailers, consumers? There’s no magic answer, but you want to be able to do it better than your competition. That’s what we have to do here. We have to deliver care in the right way at the right time. We’re going to get better and better at it. There will never be perfection, but hopefully choices.

24:39 Eugene Borukhovich  

Since we’re on that same topic, I always have this discussion with the digital therapeutic trailblazers: does a DTx (or maybe a more traditional DTx) that knows the end consumer experience swallow a pill inside? That is, the core product of pharma? Or does pharma look at it and say, “you know what, this is actually pretty interesting,” now that it’s generating revenue, and swallow the DTx? Where’s your head on where that part of the industry, the life sciences, with DTx companies is?

25:23 Chris Bergstrom  

I think it is all of the above. Let’s stop trying to say we’ll be swallowed or not and ask, what is the value use case? In one [case], maybe we’re doing this well, or maybe we’re not. That’s what it comes down to.¬†

If I were to go run a pharma company, I would probably be a digital first company, and the drugs would follow that. I have lots of ideas that I think could be pretty cool. But you can be a therapy-led company and have the digital support net; you can do a little bit of both, and most likely they will. 

I do believe that life sciences have to play a role in scaling digital health of all kinds. And shame on them if they don’t, because there are many people that want to take their place, whether it be Amazon or the next startup. So they can’t do nothing. But they, better than anyone else, can influence payers, providers, consumers, governments, and a couple sub-segments on a global scale. It’s been fun for me to be an advisor or partner to them. It’s a very normal journey; they’re only like five years into it, and they’ve got another 10 years before you really see it being a huge part of their business. But they can’t go from zero to 100. They’ve got to progress.

26:40 Eugene Borukhovich  

Yeah, if I look back on digital health investment tracking, it’s only been 10 years. It may sound like a long time, but it’s not for behemoths like that. I’m trying to keep with the existing value chain of it. We talked about digital therapeutics; there are companies that are going to market, getting the data and clinical validation and coming back in, and then there are others that want to be a prescription to begin with. But in all of those, there are human beings. I’m not only talking about the patients or health consumers. Where do you see the role of doctors, nurses, and health coaches in this spectrum?

27:23 Chris Bergstrom  

This was another “aha” for me that came a couple years ago (but it wasn’t 10 years ago, so it was somewhere in the middle of my personal digital health journey). Sometimes when I’m presenting, I have a pyramid. It kind of looks like Maslow’s pyramid, but it’s not necessarily meant to be a hierarchy. This goes right back to what we just talked about; I think it’s about getting the right form of care to the right patient, at the right place, at the right time. I think there’s at least four buckets:¬†

  1. Face-to-face care, and this can be from a community health worker, to an uber-specialist clinician.
  2. Remote care of that same group of people, going through that window. 
  3. AI-driven care, where we don’t necessarily need people, and it’s delivering care 24/7, doing things that humans can’t do. We’re building some assets so that it can move towards empathy; it’s going to move to the point where it can be human, but it’s not going to replace humans. There’s a time and a place for it.¬†
  4. Peer-to-peer support. So who’s walked in my shoes? And how can they not only bring empathy, but support?¬†

I’ve seen people drive 100 miles to provide some of their products to other patients that need those products. To me, that’s the pyramid of resources. They don’t need to all be bundled under one solution, but if you’re building a solution, it needs to fit into an ecosystem and be integrated in a way that a patient can experience all four of those.

28:51 Eugene Borukhovich  

A consistent experience for the end consumer patient. We talked a little bit about the doctors and the human beings surrounding it. I want to touch on your recent acquisition of Avhana. Can we peel the onion a little? What I got out of this conversation so far is that you guys are not a traditional DTx company as defined, so when I saw that announcement, that was pretty interesting. Maybe you can explain a little bit.

29:17 Chris Bergstrom  

This was a key piece of the puzzle of helping our vision of bringing parties together for the purpose of scale. Avhana was very focused on serving on the provider side of things, providing clinical decision support. They have a rules engine that’s more impressive than anything we’ve seen, embedded inside of all the major EMRs. So when a clinician is using their screen, at the point of care– this is the last mile, where decisions are actually being made in healthcare– [Avhana is] able to provide recommendations to the provider. They could be safety guidelines, quality practices, therapy decisions, labs that are overdue, or the digital tools (or therapies, whatever you want to call them) that could be available. Then with a single click, implementing all of that for the provider. It’s right there, in the moment, and in the workflow in a way that they are very familiar with.¬†

Avhana had earned the trust of providers by helping them practice better care, enabling enormous amounts of savings, and with that trust, we’re able to come in and bring a lot to the table that was on the Amalgam side– to find that synergy and a way to bring some of the things we’ve been doing, and some of our life sciences partners together, so that those two parties can work together and do stuff that hadn’t been done before.

30:44 Eugene Borukhovich  

It’s time for a question from my journalistic partner on this podcast, Brian Dolan, who is the founder of Exits & Outcomes, and as I like to call him, the digital health detective. Let’s see what question Brian has for our guest today.

30:58 Brian Dolan  

Okay, here’s my question. Amalgam might be the first company I’ve tracked in digital health that made an acquisition announcement before it made a funding announcement. So is Amalgam bootstrapped? How could it afford to make an acquisition so early on? And could you share more about the company’s finances?

31:17 Chris Bergstrom  

Brian, very interesting question. I miss the days, Brian, where I could read every single one of your articles. I can maybe do it with your new publication, but on your old one, I can’t even keep up with the daily articles. It’s been really cool. Thanks for being part of helping establish the industry.¬†

To answer your question, it starts with who we are as entrepreneurs, and where we are in our career, in our life cycle, and what we’ve learned. It doesn’t always have to be this way, but we believe it’s awesome when a company can be self-funded. So we built and designed Amalgam to be self-funded. It bothers me a little bit with how much glory is put on people raising money; that’s not accomplishing changing the world, that’s accomplishing raising money. I think there’s absolutely a time and a place [for that]– and you’ll probably see us raise larger rounds of capital– but it should be purpose-driven, where you really have a great use for that money, you’re not driven out of necessity. It’s just a little bit of our philosophy.¬†

We have, luckily, been able to drive the company that way. We also believe very much that digital health needs to scale. It’s time for roll-ups, and whether you’re doing horizontal integration or vertical integration, this is the time to be able to put pieces of the puzzle under one roof that haven’t been done before. I think you’re going to see us do more of that. Even in the first two months post-acquisition of Avhana, we’re seeing some amazing synergy. That’s where it came from, and why we did it. We’re glad we were able to do it, plus we picked up a super talented team. So that’s always important.

 

 

32:55 Eugene Borukhovich  

I’ll chime in here; I joke around that it’s harder to raise money (aka: revenue) from customers than from VCs. To tack on to your answer, it’s great if you can self-fund it and raise revenues from customers, and then continue moving in that direction. That’s fantastic, and you’re in control of your own destiny that way. Listen, we started with this podcast getting to know you, Chris, and I would love to end it with you. We’d love to understand what gets you up in the morning. What is your why?¬†

33:30 Chris Bergstrom  

Very simple. And I’ve been saying it– scale, scale, scale. For me, for 10 years, it was “prove that it can be done.” We’re past that. Now it’s “prove that it can scale” and show what the end-to-end journey is. Show all the tools and the pieces of the puzzle that need to make that happen. And don’t just do it for our products, but help other people do it. That’s my motivation, and obviously the reason that we do that is to help a lot of people, not just a few people.

33:57 Eugene Borukhovich  

Amazing. Well, Chris, thank you for making the time. I know it’s been busy times for you and the team, and I’m looking forward to seeing where you guys go next. And while I know that the focus is not on the funding rounds, let’s see where that goes as well. I am looking more for the outcomes on the individuals out there. So great tracking. Thank you very much.

Thanks so much for tuning into Digital Therapeutics Edition of Digital Health Today, a production of Mission Based Media. Be sure to hit that subscribe button to this podcast on your favorite podcast player, so you’re then automatically notified when we post our upcoming episodes, where I speak with dozens of leaders and trailblazers who are forging the path for digital therapeutics.¬†

If you’d like to learn more about YourCoach Health, or Brian Dolan’s Exits & Outcomes, you can always find the links to this and more in the show notes for this episode. You can connect with me personally on Twitter @HealthEugene, or follow my journey of writing my first book, Hard Pill to Swallow at hardpilltoswallow.substack.com.

I’m Eugene Borukhovich. Catch you next time.

 

 

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