Startups · Healthtech

What is the best way to find a CEO for a health tech company?

John Dayton, MD, FACEP, FAAEM

October 21st, 2015

I'm a physician building a med tech company. Because my background is in medicine only, I've had trouble figuring the best way to reach out to potential CEO's. I'd love any recommendations folks from the health tech industry have. is an online physician community and medical product review site, currently in pre-revenue beta testing.  The CEO role will involve business development, management of a database of medical practice tools, and relationships/sales with medical product companies. 

The problem I am running into is my limited connections to the entrepreneurial and health tech community. I'd love any recommendations on how to find and reach out to potential CEO's to run a health tech company. 


Thomas Kaled Business Development Consultant @

October 21st, 2015

With the exception of 'management of database of medical practice tools' I would concur with @Mark Talaba-it sounds like you need a peddler if I'm understanding 'business development' functions' in correctly. Likely someone from the Medical Products or Medical Distributorship Industry who is 3-5 years in, has a track record for 'new product' sales or detailing, 'Hi-Tech' Health Care Services like Pedi Home Care or Home Infusion is another talent pool. If you have access to Hospital Pharma (as opposed to Doc Office Pharma) that would probably be another talent pool you could consider as well. 

The candidate should have a business degree (BA) or near equivalent or Bio degree and have an additional couple years in printer or commercial mobile phone sales with documented success so you know that they have the educational background and the proper sales pace as both those products (printers or mobile phones) are high call volume, telephone sales experience and great 'suspect-to-prospect' conversion skills.

Although I agree with @John Rodley in principle with "good personality" you may not have the infrastructure to teach medical terminology and technology sufficient to point them in the proper direction hence experience in medical sales will get them productive more quickly. C-level sales experience is mandatory.

Good luck.

Peter Johnston Businesses are composed of pixels, bytes & atoms. All 3 change constantly. I make that change +ve.

October 21st, 2015

There is an excellent line in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
"Presidents don't have power. They exist to hide where the power really lies"

In the same way the role of a CEO is fluid, depending on the tasks given to the rest of the team. He/she can be investor focused, employee focused or customer focused. A figurehead, an autocratic despot or something in between.

Medical markets are not real markets, but insider driven. Thus you need a CEO here who is an insider and credible within the industry. Ideally someone with lots of connections and which attracts interest and investment just because they are involved. The actual management tasks can be done elsewhere.

Think of the people you look up to. The ones you think "wouldn't it be great if they got involved". Approach several of them and structure a role - chairman, president, non executive director etc. for them to be involved. The one which is most engaged - who will work 7 days a week in this business - is your CEO.

Mark Talaba Founder, Vision Former, serial entrepreneur

October 21st, 2015

Hello John. I checked out your company on Angel List - looks like you have found a very marketable niche that could become a big business. Depending on how far along you are, you may not need someone who’s looking for a CEO seat…not yet, anyway. Your resources should go into building the minimum viable product, and enrolling some participating med device vendors.That’s a Marketing/BizDev job, and one that requires endless amounts of activity, energy, and alliance-building. That’s not characteristic of many former (or aspiring) CEOs, and I’ve seen a lot of companies struggle (even die) under the weight of experienced and capable people who just don’t know how or when to get their hands dirty. Whatever direction you may take, I invite you to use Teamability® technology (free, on my account) to understand how the candidate seeks to make a meaningful team contribution. It will ensure that you are choosing the right kind of team player for the tasks at hand, and one who will team synergistically with you and your colleagues. Best of luck!

Henry Chou Product & Marketing Leader

October 21st, 2015

I would have a chat with Jeremy Jensen.

Rowan Richards Business Developer at Rowan Richards

October 25th, 2015

Hi John
It looks like you are receiving great advice and recommendations. Since you requested potential CEO candidates I decided to suggest one. Please take a look at Kathryn Cavanaugh. I can't say for sure if she would be interested, but she is definitely marathon qualified.

If you believe Kathryn is a good fit, I would be happy rot make an introduction.

All the best,


David Austin Relentless problem solver and innovator.

October 26th, 2015

I'm with Stan Poldenski.  Do you really need a CEO right now?  Hire someone who has the necessary skills, at a less senior position related to the functions you expect from the CEO.  Stan recommended CTO, but I'd say a CIO, but only you know for sure.  Frankly, I'd go with the title of coFounder, and let the chips lie where they fall.  He/she may be a real keeper, but simply not CEO material, and you don't want to loose such a person simply because they expected something they aren't cut out for.  Like Peter said, CEO is not the MVP on your team.  Not even when he's in place and doing a bang up job. You, as the founder, are the MVP on your team.  Be the interim CEO yourself ... but keep the option open for them to move to a CEO position.  Unfortunately you've let the cat out of the bag ... it would have been better if you kept this plan secret.  

Anton Yakovlev Founder of four successful businesses on two continents who can help you do the same

October 21st, 2015

Just find a person who:
- is capable of managing other people;
- you can trust.

It is not that hard. In case you hire the CEO you can also fire him/her any time you find he/she is not delivering. 

BTW what is the startup about? 

Stan Podolski CEO at Nimble Aircraft.

October 21st, 2015

I strongly believe the CEO should be the one with the vision. 

Well, let's say there are stages in building a company. And different stages require different skillsets. It is totally possible to have hired CEO (as Apple has demonstrated when Jobs was fired) when company is behind the 1st startup stage and stable. But to have a hired CEO in the beginning when you need all those crazy ideas and constant pivots is a way to disaster.

So I think you need a CTO, business development manager, marketing person

John Anderson Senior Vice President at hrQ Inc.

October 21st, 2015

I'd suggest Roger Holstein, managing partner at Vestar Capital and CEO of  He was also the former CEO of WebMD.

John Rodley Technical co-founder with exits

October 21st, 2015

You asked "how" and most of us have answered "who" because the who drives the how.

My take is that for what you're trying to do (yes I've looked at it) personality matters way more than experience.  It's an advertising-driven community site with, presumably, a non-obvious home-run play behind it.

I'd look among the ranks of product managers at similar sites (i.e. ad-driven professional community sites).  As Aiborlang said, reach out through LinkedIn. Given your location I don't think in-person networking would be high-percentage, though of course you must go to all FD events.  I could be wrong on that, all I know about Utah is a couple of trails at Snowbird.

Lots more to say. Feel free to DM me.