I was searching the other day for a list of incubators and accelerators in the US that specialize in digital health. I was surprised to find how many specialize in that one sector. You can see a list of them here. The list isn’t the point though, it’s what I realized in looking at the list.
I’m sitting here in Toronto and I can access MaRS for help in building a Digital Health business. Same thing in Montreal or Vancouver. But what if I lived in Winnipeg? There doesn’t seem to be a digital health accelerator in Manitoba or in the Prairies for that matter. (There may be one or even more but I didn’t go looking.) Back to the Winnipeg startup. Would I go for help to Toronto or Vancouver? Or should I contact one of the programs in the US midwest.
I then asked myself (I do a lot of that these days) what if I lived in Buffalo? Would I go to MaRS for assistance? After all, it is the closest digital health accelerator. And Toronto is a pretty big city, fastest growing whatever. They must have a lot that would benefit me. Of course I realized that this would be ridiculous. Going to MaRS would get me access to that horrible socialized Canadian health system and all of those huge Canadian MedTech funders. Since Canada isn’t a big enough market within which to develop a digital health superpower, why would I bother going there for help?
It struck me that of course the answer is that if I lived in Buffalo, I would link up with an accelerator or incubator in the US. And then I thought (that’s two thoughts in one day – a new record), if I’m in Toronto, why should I go for help to a Canadian accelerator, wouldn’t I be better off going to a US or European based one. That’s where the customers, capital and marketing know-how are located. Getting help in Canada would only get me access to Canadian customers, capital and employees. Given that you can’t build a world-class business in Canada you’re better off going to the US (or Europe etc) right off the bat.
And so, after all that thinking, I’ve adopted a new mantra. It’s not as good as WWJD, but the same idea. If you have to make a strategic decision that relates to geography, forget where you live, don’t think locally, think globally and ask yourself, what would you do if you lived in Buffalo?