Neil Patel

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In the dynamic world of entrepreneurship, stories often unfold in unexpected ways. Dr. David Albert’s journey from the son of a prominent politician during the Watergate era to a trailblazing entrepreneur in the medical technology sector is a captivating tale of resilience, innovation, and the pursuit of a passion that transcends traditional boundaries. His company, according to PitchBook, has already raised $50M+.

Dr. David Albert’s venture, AliveCor, has attracted funding from top-tier investors like Qualcomm Ventures, Khosla Ventures, BOLD Capital Partners, and WP Global Partners.

In this episode, you will learn:

  • Dr. David Albert’s entrepreneurial journey, from Watergate to AliveCor, showcases the transformative power of passion and innovation.
  • Growing up in contrasting environments, from rural Oklahoma to the political hub of Washington D.C., shaped David’s ability to navigate uncertainties, which is crucial for an entrepreneur.
  • A chance encounter in a Duke University lab redirected David from a planned career in cardiology to becoming an accidental entrepreneur.
  • AliveCor’s inception in 2010, leveraging the rise of smartphones, marked a revolutionary moment in remote ECG monitoring, as showcased in a viral YouTube video.
  • Strategic investor choices and securing over $50 million in funding, according to PitchBook, highlight AliveCor’s commitment to long-term success and sustainable growth.
  • AliveCor’s global impact is evident through millions of devices sold, partnerships with leading healthcare institutions, and the integration of AI, positioning the company as a pioneer in augmented intelligence.
  • David’s journey serves as an inspirational roadmap for entrepreneurs, emphasizing the importance of resilience, team-building, and the relentless pursuit of groundbreaking ideas.


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About Dr. David Albert:

David E. Albert, MD, an Oklahoma native, is a physician, inventor, and serial entrepreneur who has developed life-saving technologies and products over the last 30 years, turning a number of those innovations into tech startups.

Today, he is a founder of three technology companies: InnovAlarm, Lifetone Technology, and AliveCor.

His previous startups include Corazonix Corp (sold to Arrhythmia Research Technology) and Data Critical (sold to GE). Dr. Albert left GE in 2004 as Chief Scientist of GE Cardiology to disrupt several new markets.

His latest invention, AliveCor’s KardiaMobile personal ECG technology, became a global sensation via a YouTube Video in January 2011 around the Consumer Electronics Show and was featured on ABC, CBS, CNN and Fox News among many other media outlets.

Dr. Albert has 32 issued US patents, a large number pending, and several new “secret inventions” in development.

He has authored or co-authored over 50 scientific abstracts and publications, principally in the cardiology literature.

Dr. Albert has lectured at the Entrepreneurship programs at the MIT Sloan School and the University of Oklahoma. He graduated with Honors from Harvard College and Duke University Medical School.

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Connect with Dr. David Albert:

Read the Full Transcription of the Interview:

Alejandro Cremades: All righty hello everyone and welcome to the dealmakerr show. So today today we have a serial founder that is joining us. You know he’s done in multiple times I think we’re gonna be learning quite a bit. You know what he’s doing now is say remarkable and they and again you know we’re gonna be talking about building scaling financing. Taking companies public I mean all of the good stuff that we like to hear by and super inspiring. You know the the journey and also the story of our founder today. So without further ado. Let’s welcome our guest Dr Dave Albert welcome to the show.

David Albert: Thank you Alejandro it’s my pleasure to be here.

Alejandro Cremades: So originally born in Washington d c give us a walkthrough memory lane. How was life growing up.

David Albert: Well, it was very interesting. Ah my father was the speaker of the house so he was actually very famous and was the speaker of the house during watergate and twice was first in line for the presidency. So I grew up in a very interesting household. Let me put it that way.

Alejandro Cremades: And also you know like you changed the quite a bit. You know the places where you were growing up I’m sure like making new friends going to Oklahoma and places like I’m wondering like how did that shape you to as a person like dealing with building new friendships new locations. Ah.

David Albert: Are.

Alejandro Cremades: Dealing with uncertainty too being with uncertainty which I think is a really big deals an entrepreneur. So how do you think that shape you up.

David Albert: Well I had an interesting contrast Oklahoma where we’re from is very rural. So I grew up hunting and fishing I had a large extended family there and of course Washington Dc is the opposite of very rural and so I had you know friends in school. And friends back home in Oklahoma and really lived 2 lives alive of being an outdoorsman and and a life of being you know in in a major in in the capital city so it was I think it helped broaden my experiences.

Alejandro Cremades: Now in your case, you know 1 thing that I felt you know was saying quite interesting is that you decided you know to go at it we studying in Cambridge medicine and then also engineering you know out of all things. So. Why did you thought you know it was the way to go to blend those 2 together.

David Albert: I always wanted to be a doctor and so I I went undergrad to Harvard and then when I graduated from Harvard I went to duke to both medical school and engineering graduate school because I always want to be a doctor I did I i. In fact, probably for. For 8 years I wanted to be a cardiologist and ah I accidentally became an entrepreneur and so ah, you know, just just by happen chance working in a lab at Duke University Medical Center I came across I had an idea. And ultimately I learned how to make that idea into reality and I sold it so that you know when when most of my classmates and colleagues were were you know making minimum wage as as residents actually less than minimum wage working 100 hours a week and. Not making much money I was driving a corvette I’d bought for myself with money I’d made by licensing and invention. So I went back to Oklahoma to train. But I left because I came up I’d already licensed 2 inventions that I’d made ah because I had an idea nobody wanted to license it. And I thought it was my best idea so I went to my wife and my dad said I’m going to drop out of medicine and become an entrepreneur they thought it was crazy but my mentors at Duke and at Oklahoma said you know Dave can always go back to medicine so you know let him go see if this is and I knew nothing about business. Absolutely nothing.

David Albert: Not sure I know anything today about business to be honest with you because my passion is still medicine and and being an inventor but you know that was thirty five years ago and I haven’t looked back a little more than 35 and so ah, you know 4 companies later I think i’ve. Had a very interesting professional career. Ah despite the fact I didn’t have to go back to my plan b of practicing medicine.

Alejandro Cremades: Now in your case, you know that first company you know you ended up selling and then the the latest one you know before actually you know you went in on with the live cor wars we’re gonna be talking you know, quite extensive extensively today that one you took public and it was in 99 you know I think that at the peak of the of the valuation of the company was about 500000000 the company ended up pay being acquired by g which is amazing. You know, being able to get the acquisition from from someone like that at that moment I’m wondering like what was that journey to of. Of taking the company public. You know how was that like because I mean you were used to you know privately held companies you know inventions like you were doing so this was you know like more you know like nerve raking of taking something public and writing you know that type of of growth. So how was that for you.

David Albert: Well, but except for my first company I was never the Ceo. So I I realized soon that I’m an inventor and a scientist and I’m not a manager. So ah in that company data critical I had a Ceo who’s very experienced. He’s been a serial ceo afterwards and ah, you know we we were our lead venture capitalist was new enterprise associates and ea on Sand Hill Road we had our board meetings. So I’ve already been to Sand Hill Road many times long before ah costla ventures and others invested but but you know and and we were taken public by a firm called Dlj Donald’s and lufkin and genret doesn’t exist anymore. Okay, many of those small investment banks Hamburg Andquist Alex Brown They don’t exist anymore. They were all acquired really in the aftermath of the dot com bust they were all acquired by larger banks like like chase and and bank of America and so you know we went through the process. The roads show. Ah the vetting and and and you know had quarterly reports and and you know safe Harvard statements and all those things to quite frankly I’m glad somebody else had the main responsibility for that. But you know everybody’s always looking, especially your investors for some type of ultimate exit.

David Albert: Be in an acquisition or a public offering and so this was the evolution of of that company and then ultimately you know, ah in gehealth care thought we were a strategic fit so they came in and acquired us and actually acquired us the the shareholder vote was on 9 eleven two thousand and one was an interesting day. We had a shareholder vote while the world was erupting and so in and of itself. Ah, ah, an interesting story I’ll never forget.

Alejandro Cremades: No kidding no kidding now I’m wondering like what was it like to go through the dotcom bust because I think that most founders today they’ve been just writing you know, very easy market up until now we see which is an interesting macro environment that we’re all experiencing. But what has it been like to be able to experience different cycles when it comes to the market and and what have you learned as an entrepreneur tool.

David Albert: Well, we learned it there. We were a public company growing literally 15 to 20% quarter on quarter and then bust hit and everybody’s stock take cratered because if you watch Nasdaq we were on Nasdaq went down as a private company. We’ve seen something similar so 2 three years ago you had an influx of all the specs you saw many many unicorn valuations and today most of those companies are at a fraction of the value they went out at and so. You know you’ve had ah a real dichotomy between the the alphabets. Ah the Nvidia and and the apples of the world versus the privately held companies or the sp the small cap companies and I think we’ve watched it as a private company. Thank god we didn’t. Go down this back route because it didn’t matter what your business was you were pulled in the downdraft that was the macro environment of the market and so ah, you know I think we we made the right choices at the time we have an outstanding management team that has great experience and. And an outstanding investor cohort. That said you know that’s not the right thing to do and I think today everybody would agree, those facts were not the right thing to do they were if anything a financial you know fad.

Alejandro Cremades: I hear you I hear you now 1 thing led to the next the company you know that you took public. You know, ended up getting acquired by g and you spend it. You know like a few years there in g I mean you were about 3 years before you saw what was happening. You decided that it was time you know as they say once an entrepreneur entrepreneur always an entrepreneur entrepreneur that it was time to go at it again and 1 thing let to the next and you end up finding yourself traveling to Hong Kong which is a trip that they changed everything for you. What happened there.

David Albert: Well, it was it was actually dating back to 1995 I had an idea that you could not implement because the technology simply didn’t exist. There were no smartphones. We didn’t have digital wireless communications. Things of that nature but the notion that a patient could send their ecg immediately to a doctor and have immediate assessment of whether or not the patient needed to be cared for and so I had that idea but it wasn’t it. You couldn’t do it so in 2009 ah, with the advent of the smartphone I saw an opportunity to do that. So with a couple of partners. We built a prototype and then I took a trip to Hong Kong in 2010 ah to to go to 1 of the manufacturers the many manufacturers they have in Hong Kong and Shenzen to manufacture some prototypes of this new device smartphone ekg device and on my birthday December Fourteenth I received a package from Hong Kong of 15 cases for smartphone. Ah that were ekg cases the first cardias and ah. I was planning on going to the consumer electronics show in early january in Las Vegas to show a bunch of companies something I thought was a very exciting new product and just happened to be that four companies I wanted to talk to weren’t going to be at cs so I thought I need to show them something. So.

David Albert: My nine year old taught me how to make a Youtube video That’s my youngest of 4 because he made videos for nerf gun modifications and I went into my office and made a 4 minute unscripted video and I was uploading it to to Youtube and there happened to be a box to say. Connect upload to your Linkedin connections and I had about 3 or 400 then my only social media at the time was Linkedin 3 or 400 business connections and I happened to click that uploaded when home and the next day was new year’s eve had a date with my wife. It was fun and that night after new year’s I get a call from the producer of good morning america wanting me to be on their show from cs and I was shocked the next day. My partner who lives in australia said what did you do I said what I made the video I uploaded it. He says we have 300000 views of that video and in 36 hours I went what and I was I went to cs that sunday I was on fox and friends I was on good morning america I was on radio shows my so my oldest son who was at undergrad at duke at the time said dad I have friends who heard on the radio your video in. Montana and so this video went viral ah hundreds of thousands of views and I was contacted by just any number of venture capitalist companies. It became crazy and and as a result of that.

David Albert: It became clear that we could raise a venture capital and ah start a live course which is what happened Ah, that’s fine. My dog just went nuts. So sorry, no so ah.

Alejandro Cremades: And will will will. We’ll edit we’ll edit this piece. So why we don’t we don’t We don’t and who areries nories. Well we’ll edit this piece. So so would you mind repeating that go ahead, go ahead.

David Albert: You know this video I made went viral and I had all types of venture capitalist companies like ge reach back out to me. Ah, and I had been to ge I had been to ge first back to my old haunts of Ge Healthcare and they’d said well you know we think this is kind of a toy dave you know people aren’t really going to use this It’s not a hospital device medicare is not going to pay for it. They’ve since admitted I was correct. You know it’s the old adage. You don’t skate to the puck you skate to where the puck’s going. And and at the time in 2011 in 2010 digital health wasn’t even a term anybody recognized and so later in 2011 I was approached by a number of venture capitalists people like Qualcomm ventures and ended up starting the company. Ah, putting it in San Francisco because I thought silicon valley was was the right place to put it. Data critical had been in Seattle Washington by the way because at the time you had Microsoft we started in Redmond you had mccaw communications later became at and t it was a hotbed of technology. Amazon was just getting started. But now we started in San Francisco later brought on costla ventures and began the odyssey that is today a live core kind of a global brand selling product in 42 countries so having sold millions of devices.

David Albert: And I can say very proudly having saved a number of people’s lives so spent a journey.

Alejandro Cremades: So for the people that are listening to really get it. What ended up being the business model of a life core. How do you guys make money.

David Albert: Well, we make money two ways we we sell hardware people see our ads on Tv or their physicians oftentimes recommend they buy our device and then we have a whole suite of services both for physicians and for patients for customers. We have our cardiac care services that allow them to subscribe and get. Ah, whole series of enhancements to the basic functionality which you’ve had from the beginning you can record your ecg you can email it to somebody but we give you advanced analysis of that ecg. We give you connections directly to cardiologists to read your ecg. We give you ah monthly reports and so we give you enhanced services and we have you know hundreds of thousands of people, cardiocare subscribers and millions of customers. So we have a business and now we have not only a consumer oriented business where you buy either from our website or Amazon. And that’s true around the world but we also have ah a commercial business that sells into healthcare which is why we have a partnership with people like gehealthcare which focuses their business principally on the hospital but we all know that patients are discharged from the hospital and go home. And healthcare will be increasingly focused outside of the hospital and Ge Healthcare saw live core as one of the best avenues for them to be in that business of outside the hospital. They’re very strong in but they had almost nothing outside and so you know we’re glad to partner with them because.

David Albert: Inside the hospital is an important aspect of Health care. You don’t get your surgeries in your living room.

Alejandro Cremades: So according to pitchbook you know I see that you guys have raised 50000000 plus so I guess the the question here that comes to mind is what is the experience and the journey of you know, financing you know a company like this and. Obviously you know like now this is not your first rodeo so you’ve done it multiple times. So why did you choose to bring on board the investors that you did you know, end up choosing here.

David Albert: Well I wanted investors who had a view for the long term because you know if if if all you’re focused on is is short term ah a short-term return I don’t want to be involved in that because healthcare is a completely different beast. You know this is not a social media play. This is is not a Tiktok and so you know what you have to do to be accepted in healthcare to get through the food and drug administration to be accepted by regulatory to be accepted by the cardiologists so that when their patient sends them an ekg. They believe it’s accurate to do that takes. Publications and peer reviewed journals takes time takes running studies. It takes clinical validation and so that takes time that takes effort that takes money and I wanted investors who understood what it was going to take and I think we have those kinds of investors.

Alejandro Cremades: So when it comes to bringing on Board. You know investors like this you know obviously vision is really Big. Vision is a really big one. So if we’re thinking about the vision here and and let’s say I give you the opportunity of going to sleep tonight. And you wake up in a world where the vision of a live core is fully realized what does that world look like.

David Albert: Well I just think we’ll we’ll be in more hands. Well be. We’ll be helping more patients. We’ll be helping more doctors and will be bringing acute cardiac connectivity to anywhere in the world. That’s South America Africa Asia India China it doesn’t matter where it is but but you know today the smartphone is the front door to healthcare around the world. You can be anywhere and have a $30 android phone that. Quite frankly is more powerful than your best phone of twenty five years ago and that device provides access. We want to add value to that device with our products and services and create opportunities to help patients and potentially save their lives.

Alejandro Cremades: So I guess for the for the people that are listening to to get an idea on the scope and size of the operation today. How big is a live core I mean what can you share what kind of impact have you guys you know, brought already you know to to life.

David Albert: Well, we’ve sold millions of devices we have hundreds of thousands of people who subscribe to our advanced services. We have scores of hospitals if you looked at the us news and world report leading cardiovascular hospitals beginning with Cleveland Clinic all those top 10 are alive core users and have literally thousands of patients using a live core devices you have places like the mayo clinic which is an investor in a live core and a corporate partner and is today conducting more than a dozen studies using cardia devices. So we have unparalleled clinical acceptance at the best medical centers around the world and that includes Canada U K Europe Asia as well as the confidence by consumers and patients that this is a quality device despite the fact they can just buy it. At their local drugstore or through

Alejandro Cremades: And I’m wondering too I mean obviously when when you started your first business in the late 80 s compared to now you know there’s been quite a bit of time that has passed but also the the venture world has changed too. I mean I guess how have you seen things changing in. And what are you experiencing now that you know we’re not there before.

David Albert: Well I think first of all, there are many more venture players now than there were then okay, there’s been an explosion in in venture and that you know you have many more players from family offices to private equity and many more limited. Funds and I think that that has created you know everybody’s looking for a good deal but how many more good deals are there and then you have the the fads the trends whether it was dot com and today ai generative Ai you have trends. And fads some of them will stick Ai is definitely going to stick ah but some of them come and go like the dot com boom you know, etc and so I think we’ve seen the evolution just just like the business cycle. It goes up and down. Venture isn’t immune from that we had Sps spaxs became and I think they’re now well gone as as a financial fad funding a lot of companies that probably in hindsight shouldn’t have been public companies and should have stayed private like a livecore. And I think you know, but but wall street in finance is always looking for a new way to make money investment bankers create new vehicles with which they can make fees that was another one. Ah.

Alejandro Cremades: So when it comes to the actual um you know work but like basically where things are heading because you were touching on it ai I mean everyone is talking about Ai nowadays obviously very interesting. They blend and intersection between Ai and. And medical devices that the that you guys are you know? Ultimately, you know, ah pushing here now. My my question here is where do you see the whole Ai and and medical device. You know, ah intersection Where do you see that you know heading towards.

David Albert: Well, there won’t be any medical computerized medical device that doesn’t integrate Ai into its operation. I mean healthcare is in desperate need of improved efficiency. We don’t have enough doctors who don’t have enough nurses. We just don’t have enough access. And that’s here in the United States where we spend way more than anyone else. The rest of the world has even fewer resources. You had a lot more people so we’ve got to use Ai to empower the current healthcare worker group to make them more efficient. To be able to deliver more care to be able to reduce errors and so I think it’s inevitable that you know as people say ai will not replace doctors but doctors who utilize Ai will replace those who do not and I think that’s that’s the case and when you talk about medicine ai really means augmented intelligence. It’s helping that doctor or that nurse not make a mistake not overlook something critical to that patient’s care and I think so the future is very bright for Ai and healthcare care and and it’s not a short-term thing. It’s a long-term thing and will continue to evolve.

Alejandro Cremades: So Then so that in this case too. I mean as we’re thinking about we’ve been talking about the future but I want to talk about the past and doing so with a lens of reflection. So Let’s say I was to bring you into time machine and and I bring you back in time you know maybe to that moment. Where you were coming out of college and you were thinking about before you were driving. Obviously your corvid but let’s say you know before that you know before that moment where you decided to venture into the world of entrepreneurship and that moment where you’re thinking about taking that leap of faith and you’re able to just show up. Um, be right there in front of your younger self and you’re able to give that younger self one piece of Advice. What would that be and why before launching a business knowing what you know now.

David Albert: I I would have said go to business school get an mba because I I launched into business without doing anything about business and I I have an Mba from the school of hard knocks. But I also learned that you know you need, there’s no I and team and you need a team of people. Who can handle everything from hr to marketing to sales to regulatory to invent all the manufacturing all these things that quite frankly I don’t have any skill in nor do I care about and so it is the notion that it’s dependent on a team It’s not dependent on me or a single person and I think that’s. That’s what I would tell myself thirty five years ago

Alejandro Cremades: So I Guess the um the the last thing that comes to mind you know as obviously you didn’t go to business school like you were saying you wish you would have gone and some of these say hard knocks ah lessons that you’ve learned I think that there’s probably been a ton of incredible self-velopment there to be able to. Grow at the same pace as the companies that you’ve built especially now what you’re doing with a life core I Guess when it comes to self-development and to you and to growing you know yourself? What is the biggest takeaway you know and something that maybe you can share with other founders that are listening when it comes to. Also. Making sure that they’re not being outpaced by the company that they’re building.

David Albert: Well I think I think it’s it’s the notion of surround yourself with the best people that that that have a passion not only for your idea or your company. But for the things that they have to address. So you get the best ah hr people and the best marketing people and the best and and to be honest with you from my perspective I found a best Ceo who can then go do those things because again, there’s so many opportunities ah that require special skills. That any 1 individual just simply isn’t going to have so you need to learn delegate and find the best people.

Alejandro Cremades: Amazing. So for the people that are listening that will love to reach out and say hi. What is the best way for them to do so.

David Albert: Well I’m I’m on x I think we used to call it Twitter at at Dr Dave 0 1 Drdave 0 1 same thing for Linkedin at Dr Dave 0 1 drdave zero one so you can reach out to me connect with me on either of those 2 social media platforms and I’m happy I have a lot of young entrepreneurs physicians inventors who come to me in and ask advice and tell me they want to do what I did and I said no, you don’t you want to do what you’re going to do not what I did. But I’m happy to to give you my stories of hard knocks and and and and best paths. So.

Alejandro Cremades: Amazing! Well Dr Dave thank you so much for being on the dealmaker show. It has been an honor to have you with us.

David Albert: Thank you very much for inviting me I really enjoyed it. Thank you sir.


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