058: Blake Marggraff (Epharmix)

Blake Marggraff on Innovation City

“The secret to raising venture capital is long-term relationships… I’ve never received money from someone with whom I’ve had a shorter than six-month relationship.” — Blake Marggraff

Welcome to Innovation City—powered by Venture Cafe—where Tyler Kelley and Michael Johnson, Co-Founders of SLAM! Agency, interview innovators, creators, and disruptors to discover how business is changing in the modern world.

Created and produced by SLAM! Agency in cooperation with Venture Cafe St. Louis and Venture Cafe Miami, Innovation City gives you an inside look at how rapidly business and culture are changing thanks to increasing diversity and inclusion, heightened creativity, and a stronger and better-connected business community. Venture Cafe is the largest combined gathering of entrepreneurs and innovators anywhere in the world. Events are held every Thursday in St. Louis, Miami, and other leading innovation cities around the globe.

Today’s guest is Blake Marggraff, CEO at Epharmix. Blake founded Epharmix the year he graduated from Washington University. Epharmix is a digital health company that provides automatic remote patient monitoring for medically underserved patient groups. Blake joins Innovation City to share his insights on startup culture, cultivating venture capital relationships, quantitative goal setting, the next evolution in healthcare, and setting the standard of care for patient engagement technology.

They discuss:

  • Medically underserved patients aren’t receiving the necessary care they need
  • Underserved patient populations have an outsized financial impact on the healthcare system
  • Keeping people healthy saves money and benefits everyone
  • Epharmix’s goal is to make the world a better place in a quantitative way
  • Big Pharma argues that the healthier the patient population, the more money added to the national GDP; more value produced, more money spent
  • Epharmix calculates that they have added over $40 Million to U.S. GDP through patient monitoring
  • Epharmix was never supposed to be a tech company, it just started as a weekend project with a goal of getting a specific subset of dialysis patients to attend every medical appointment
  • Randomized control trial to evaluate the effectiveness of Epharmix: They wanted to show a 5% reduction in hospitalizations to prove their product could work.
    • They showed a 55% reduction in hospitalizations
  • From there, they looked at other areas of chronic care to see how they could help in those areas, COPD, heart failure, depression, substance abuse, etc.
  • Clinical approach first, then commercial
  • Text-based questionnaires at a 4th-grade reading level
  • Epharmix is Blake’s 2nd business
  • Blake built and sold 1st business while an undergrad (that biz received an Arch Grant)
  • The prerequisites for starting your own successful business:
    • Follow through
    • Quantitative goal setting
  • The secret to raising venture capital is building relationships
  • Build trust by setting quantitative goals, make sure that you understand the assumptions behind your goals
  • According to the goal schedule you’ve set, evaluate why you either hit or missed your goal
  • What traction means to a startup
  • The trouble of getting healthcare providers to enroll their clients in Epharmix
  • The power of the scientific method
  • Why stay in St. Louis?
  • Capital, customers, strategic advantage (research opportunities in healthcare)
  • St. Louis is also a good home for Ag Tech
  • If there was a better place to do business, Epharmix would move there
  • Some tech companies do need to move to particular locations in order to tap particular clusters of specific tech talent
  • The standard of care: your doctor needs to provide good health recommendations
  • Epharmix’s goal is to be the standard of care for patient engagement technology
  • Blake thinks Epharmix could add Billions of dollars of value each year
  • “White-horse whippersnapper” (the trouble of being a young tech company breaking into healthcare)
  • The hardest part of communicating the value of any idea is figuring out what story to tell
  • Epharmix’s story: try.epharmix.com