Amar Kendale has already raised $70M for his latest venture. A healthtech startup focusing on a sizable, yet underserved segment, with big potential for impact.
On the Dealmakers Show Kendale talked about innovating and being disciplined in building a new prototype every week, when failing competitors can be a bad thing, refusing to take no for an answer versus knowing when to quit, recognizing when investment cycles change, $18B acquisitions, and trends in customized healthcare.
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Amar Kendale was born near NYC to parents who had immigrated to the US from India. His father was an engineer and head of sales and marketing for an industrial equipment firm in NJ.
From an early age Amar says that he was fascinated with his dad’s engineering work. The ability to work on big problems, and have a substantial impact. It inspired him to follow in his footsteps.
That interest took him through MIT for a mechanical engineering degree. He also spent time in business classes at the Sloan School. Meanwhile, other peers were diving into computer science as the dot com bubble was forming.
His experience at Sloan connected him to a diverse group of intellectuals. Including Carmichael Roberts who was spinning out life sciences venture Surface Logix from Harvard. Amar loved how it brought together so many minds and specialities from chemists to biologists and business people, to do something new together.
He was really taken with how these cross-functional teams you know can actually innovate across boundaries. Especially when taking a first-principles approach.
That company was ultimately acquired. Though, still to this day Kendale’s top advice is all about embracing first principles, and a beginner’s mind when you’re looking at a problem and trying to understand it.
If you do this, he says that you’re not going to fall into the trap of pattern matching incorrectly. An easy mistake to make. Because if you misidentify the problem, then you could be living with something that’s heading you in the wrong direction for a long time. Since then he says he has been making sure that he gives himself the time and space to take a first principles approach to validating a problem.
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Go Faster, But Don’t Fall In Love With Your Technology
Another key lesson Kendale says that he has picked up on the journey is not to fall in love with a specific technology. He says that can be the single biggest mistake as an entrepreneur. A common problem for technical founders.
It’s great to visualize the power of what a technology could do in the future. Though there is a huge risk that you may be blinded to the real problem out there.
He adds that pushing a technology into a market is a hundred times harder than a technology being pulled into a market where there’s a really clear and strong user need and problem to be solved.
It’s vital to learn the skill of really immersing yourself in the problem and space, and being comfortable before deciding to go after it.
In his early roles Amar describes himself as that annoying engineer who just couldn’t stop asking why. He was not the typical engineer to just take orders and go build what he was told.
He always wanted to understand why they were building what they were building.
Looking For Shorter Life Cycles
Still, he craved the ability to go faster. In life sciences he found a lengthy 10-year product cycle. So, next he joined a Fortune 50 medical devices company, where the product cycles may just be two or three years long.
This was an opportunity to get really close to the customer. To be in the operating room with cardiac surgeons as they worked. There he learned it is not only about what prospective customers are telling you they want, but often what they don’t say, and the problems they don’t talk about where the opportunity is.
His next move from Boston to California put him under a mentor who taught him the discipline of constant innovation. His mentor Dr. Al Chin would constantly be in the trenches in the lab, working on new prototypes each week.
Amar continued learning and rounded out his skills through acquisitions, an $18B IPO, and fundraising.
Still desiring to go faster he saw how software could facilitate that, and speed up cycles.
Today, Amar Kendale’s startup is Homeward. A healthtech venture that has already raised $70M through its Series B round in 2022.
Storytelling is everything which is something that Amar Kendale was able to master. Being able to capture the essence of what you are doing in 15 to 20 slides is the key. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here), where the most critical slides are highlighted.
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Homeward is on a mission to serve the 60M Americans living in rural locations. 20% of the nation’s population, who have been sorely underserved in healthcare. Especially when it comes to primary care and specialist care.
They are working to help this massive segment enjoy far better healthcare outcomes and lives, with digitization and customization of care.
Listen in to the full podcast episode to find out more, including:
- The changing capital markets and its impact on startups
- How Homeward is changing healthcare
- Having the grit to keep persevering, and the wisdom to know when to quit
- The future of medicine