MassDevice Q&A: American Well CEO Roy Schoenberg

November 11, 2009 by Brian Johnson

The web-enabled, on-demand healthcare service firm's chief on why 2009 will be a watershed year and the similarities between fundraising and warfare.

MassDevice Q&A: American Well CEO Roy Schoenberg

Roy Schoenberg seems to have the gift of good timing.

The 42-year-old is CEO of American Well, a Boston-based company that's developed a web-enabled, on-demand healthcare service so patients can speak directly to physicians at any time. The system could prove to be a low-cost solution to getting healthcare to the uninsured or under-insured — pretty fortuitous timing, when you consider Washington's struggle to figure out a way to control spiraling healthcare costs while increasing access to care.

But Schoenberg's best timing might have been his decision to tear himself away from sand and surf to start the company. As he tells it, he and his brother and business parter Ido Schoenberg were just three weeks into a planned one-year hiatus in late 2006. Roy was sunning on a beach in Tel Aviv when inspiration struck.

The brothers had just sold their prior venture, electronic health management systems provider CareKey Inc., to TriZetto for $60 million and had left the company to pursue other ventures. The plan was to spend a year on the beach reading and figuring out their next move. Roy made it a whole three weeks before he found himself cajoling Ido back into the ring for another go-round. Two months later, American Well was funded and under way.

Today the company is enjoying a serious growth spurt, having signed several clients and just recently raising an additional $10 million in financing. Schoenberg spoke with MassDevice about why 2009 will turn out to be a watershed year for the company, how fundraising should be treated like warfare and the reason it takes more than 20 interviews to get hired at the company.

MassDevice: You raised an addition $10 million about a year after landing a larger first round. What's the new funding for?

Roy Schoenberg: The motivation is really like the tactics of war, when you actually have an option to generate significant success in a certain path of the fight, that is where you're going to put most of your efforts. You don't raise money to cover up when you're unsuccessful, you raise funding when you see an opportunity to capture.

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