Product Market Validation Leadership
Hello, I’m Max. You have a technology with a lot of potential; but it’s easy to feel overwhelmed or lost in the possibilities of how to establish value with your customers quickly. That’s where I come in: I take a creative and collaborative approach to help researchers and technologists transform early-stage concepts into market-validated products.
Enabling Technology Leaders to Achieve Greater Impact
My methodology to close the gap between technology breakthrough and commercial viability:
Define the Opportunity
Understanding objectives within the context of the problem you are looking to solve, validating information, and available resources
Develop the Market
Gathering & analyzing intelligence to inform market needs and potential for technology and business model innovation, before investing significant resources
Discover the Customer
Listening to customers to define approaches to problem solving, industry integration, and data-driven metrics to track impact
Prove the Concept
Turning vision into a prototype to prove initial value and iteratively improve on hypotheses, in collaboration with technical leadership
Developing investment and partnership pitches to communicate business proposition through a coherent story, establish consensus, and raise capital
Project Impact Examples
University Healthcare Technology Commercialization
- Overview: Improve quality of patient care and reduce costs through transitioning healthcare informatics research into digital health technology spinouts. The PHDA is a collaboration between UPMC Enterprises, Carnegie Mellon University School of Computer Science, and the University of Pittsburgh Schools of Health Sciences
- Focus Markets: Consumer and population health
- Goals: Transform clinical healthcare research into high-impact medical innovations by identifying leads among clinicians and biomedical informatics experts, pitching for seed capital, and acting as business advisor to commercialize technologies.
- Obstacles: Navigating complexity of consumer-provider-payer relationships; building strong relationships with technical leads as part of data quality assurance and HIPAA compliance for electronic medical record integration, achieving consensus on business and tech validation within and outside of program
- My Role: Joined team at program conception to provide strategic and project investment leadership.
- Impact: Successfully identified multiple high-profile projects, built business cases, and achieved seed investments to validate commercial opportunities. Outcomes include corporate customer partnerships, integration of technologies into internal hospital system platforms, and identification of dozens of viable project investment leads supported by market and customer development.
Consumer Digital Health Technology
- Overview: Personalized medication assistant improving consumer drug safety and treatment plan engagement (mobile health app)
- Focus Markets: Consumer Digital Health
- Goals: Bring consumer mHealth app to market by refining opportunity definition, assessing market forces, and developing clinical and corporate partnerships to validate mHealth app impact on medication plan accuracy, consumer education and engagement.
- Obstacles: Assessing complex consumer-provider-insurer market and workflow to inform business and tech buildout; narrowing project scope to show clear validation of concept and scalability through health system platform integration.
- My Role: Partner with leading researcher and clinician from the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy to define initial business opportunity, raise seed capital, refocus business and tech proposition to validate concept through consumer and clinical trials, and develop a go-to-market strategy.
- Impact: Established relationship with the venture investment arm of one of the largest integrated health systems in the US; achieved commercial partnership with regional retail pharmacy for deployment across 90+ stores; integrated with electronic health records to capture relevant patient medication data on-demand and provide greater usability and transparency to consumers.
Seed-Stage Impact Investment Fund
- Overview: Impact venture fund investing in and providing business support to regionally-based seed-stage technology companies
- Focus Markets: Renewable energy and environmental sustainability technology startups
- Goals: Cultivate regional start-up economy through generating new investment leads with university researchers and entrepreneurs, assess new investment opportunities, and develop investment theses to achieve Managing Director's support
- Obstacles: Building relationships with a wide range of technical and business entrepreneurs; working with founders to expedite market analysis and customer validation of products with small amounts of capital.
- My Role: Source new investment opportunities, market and customer research to develop investment theses, work with company founders to refine business propositions, and serve as board observer post-investment to provide ongoing portfolio company support.
- Impact: Completed market and customer analysis, thesis development, and investment execution for over 12 new seed-stage and follow-on investments totaling $10m; Establish new sales channels through industry relationships, and assist in identifying executive co-founders; Multiple companies received follow-on funding and continue to build sustainable businesses
Real Estate Impact Investment & Development
- Overview: Leading real estate developer of sustainable, and opportunity-rich urban communities for families, children, seniors and veterans
- Focus Markets: Affordable and market rate sustainable housing
- Goals: Revive historic inner-city communities through financing and construction of modern, sustainable affordable housing
- Obstacles: Achieving consensus within a community divided by decades of disinvestment; partnering with public and private investors to raise capital and achieve financial and environmental sustainable housing
- My Role: Project manager focused on land acquisition, capital raising, building relationship with community members and local officials, and management of engineering and construction contractors
- Impact: Completed construction, from concept to completion, of $100M mixed-use development that included more than 300 units. Successfully delivered projects on-time and on-budget, leveraging sustainable construction techniques and community initiatives to help lower cost of ownership, impact on the environment, and enabled additional partnerships for public health initiatives
Behavioral Analytics Software
- Overview: Software that improves truck fuel efficiency and driver safety through behavioral analytics
- Focus Markets: Environmental sustainability and data analytics
- Goals: Reposition small environmental consulting firm into scalable technology company
- Obstacles: Working within structure of legacy business and investor group to transition into a tech company; recapitalization and negotiation of equity cap table; reducing up-front capital expenditures based on new investment capital limitations
- My Role: Partner with Founder to refine business go-to-market strategy and create product planning road map
- Impact: Reduced up-front capital requirements by over 2x through reducing hardware requirements. Identified CTO with significant industry background to lead product development and data analytics for customer development. Established foundation for company to continue scaling both organically and through venture funded product expansion
Federal Research Lab Spinout
- Overview: Specialty catalytic material technology startup spun out from the Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory
- Focus Markets: Alternative energy and advanced materials
- Goals: Translate research to form new specialty catalyst company focused on diesel and natural gas reforming for use in fuel cells and hydrogen production
- Obstacles: Transitioning long-term industrial research activity outside of the Department of Energy with limited capital, manufacturing, and product testing resources; Structuring, funding, and executing cooperative research and development agreement
- My Role: Collaborate with high-profile research team as part of larger Federal research laboratory partnership to commercialize emerging energy and environmental technologies
- Impact: Defined the opportunity and crafted initial business pitch used to successfully recruit executive team with notable industry background and deep understanding of market dynamics. Raised seed and follow-on venture investment capital, and received SBIR phase I and phase II grants totaling over $1 million to achieve commercial validation of technology. Worked with founders to define key market metrics and achieve proof-of-concept trials.
As a Pittsburgh native, I’ve participated in and learned from the City’s renaissance from a down-and-out steel town to a model laboratory in its own right--a small epicenter of thriving neighborhoods, prominent healthcare and emerging high-tech innovations. And being part of this evolution has helped foster my current focus on commercializing technologies that make people’s lives better and communities more sustainable.
I began my career in urban development with a leading real estate firm, working to raise capital and manage projects to sustainably revitalize a historic, inner-city community. 2008 was a turning point, when I (and many others) came to realize the effect of a real estate industry and global financial markets contaminated by greed.
Inspired to think more broadly about how to positively impact communities, I shifted my focus to investing in people driven to profitably improve lives and the world at large. As an Investment Associate and Program Manager at a triple bottom line venture firm, I spearheaded a seed-stage fund dedicated to backing software and advanced materials entrepreneurs in the alternative energy and environmental markets.
Now I partner with business & technology leaders, and investment funds, to commercialize innovations attacking consumer health, environmental, and urban problems. I take on practical roles to help overcome the challenges inherent to building scalable businesses that solve customer needs. Spending time on 'both sides of the table' gives me unique perspective on the importance of listening and focused execution.
Fill Out the Form Below, and Let's See if I Can Help You
...but please note, I only take on opportunities where I believe I will have a discernible, positive impact--on both the project and the team. If a project is not the right fit, I’ll give you my honest feedback and try to connect you with better resources.