My Interview with an MIT Sloan School Alum & Proof that MIT Invented America… Or at least Massachusetts

Bruce Baron is a successful Boston-area entrepreneur that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a few times while I was a lowly intern. VoiceFriend is located in the Boston area and was designed to allow seniors in various living situations (senior living, skilled nursing, hospice) to be more social as a result of their technology, which reminds and notifies them of events, as well as alerting seniors, staff and families of emergencies. The company was founded in 2006, but Bruce didn’t become involved until later.

I had an interview to do for an online class through Case Western and Bruce was more than happy to help. All coordination was via email.

What is your company’s mission?  To enable Healthcare providers to improve outcomes at a lower cost.

When and how did you become involved with VoiceFriend?  In 2010 I invested in VoiceFriend.  In 2011, I became the CEO.

Explain the product/services you provide. Web based Solutions for healthcare providers.

What area did your funding come from? (VC, federal grant, research center, etc.) and were any of the following present in funding: gov, philanthropy, anchor institutions (schools, hospitals, etc),  intermediary institutions (NGO’s).  Funding has come from the Founders, an Angel investor and the CEO.

Talk about some of the challenges you’ve faced as well as tradeoffs you’ve had to make in building a startup. Was the accessibility of funding for scale a challenge?  Funding is always a challenge. Not just the capital, but the right capital coming from sources in which you are strategically aligned.  Major challenge is the risk vs. reward.  Salary is much lower than a mature business would offer, but the upside is far greater.

What are opportunities VoiceFriend has had or future opportunities? These can be elements that enabled growth or any other support (financial or otherwise) that have helped you succeed. Can also answer as it relates to you personally (Opportunities you’ve had in life by being an entrepreneur).  My past success in business enabled me to build a nest egg that offered me the opportunity to take on a risk that otherwise I would not be able to do.

How do you define success for VoiceFriend or of how you do business in general?

Revenue growth and client acquisitions are the key metrics we monitor as a measure of success.

Who are the beneficiaries of your success and what does that look like?  Seniors, healthcare providers employees and shareholders are all beneficiaries.

Was there ever a goal in terms of the number of rooms or facilities (senior, hospice, etc.) that you wanted VoiceFriend to be in? Yes, they are all part of our business plan.

I was absolutely blown away by the impact MIT founders have had on Massachusetts’ economy. 6,900 MIT alumni companies with worldwide sales of $164B are located in MA and represent 26% of sales of MA companies. What about your education there prepared you to be an entrepreneur?  Incredible stat!  Tactics and strategy, interactions inside and outside the classroom.

 

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