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The latest and greatest about Ruckus Partners

Is Your Business a (Viable) Model or Does it Just Look Like One?

What is a business model?

A.) An entity posing for a picture-perfect business
B.) A kit that comes with of plastic parts and airplane glue
C.) The mix of revenue streams, customer segments, product or service offerings, supply chain, supporting resources and financing sources

If you answered, “C”, you are correct!

As you create and grow your business, you might be asked…

“What is your business model?”  The inquisitor seeks to understand if you have a sustainable and scalable business.  She wants to understand if you have considered all of the factors associated with setting up a successful business: target customer, customer acquisition at a reasonable cost, ability to fulfill the promise (value proposition) and whether a profit can be realized.

Consider these factors as you analyze your business model:

1) Value proposition aka The Promise – the problem you are solving, for whom and how.

2) Revenue – where are your customers and how will you reach them? Are they ready and willing to buy what you have to offer? If not, how do you convince them to engage with you?

3) Cost – how will you fulfill the promise you make to customers and ensure that their expectations are met?  What does the supply chain entail and who are your key partners? Can you deliver over and over again and at the same level of reliability and quality each time?

And remember, as you learn more about your market and as your business evolves, the business model will change.  It is dynamic!

If you have questions about your market and how to reach your target audience and what to say when you get there, email Ruckus Partners at today! We are happy to help you realize your goals!

So, You Want to Launch Your Product. Now, What?

The prospect of launching a new product is exciting and nothing gets the team more engaged than a new beginning and fortuitous horizon. That said, make sure that come launch day you are prepared for a resounding success. Start off with a bang (and avoid a loud thud). But, how?

First, ensure that you are clear about the product market fit.

1. Are you and your crew exceedingly clear about the problem you are solving and for whom?

2. Does your target customer recognize the problem and are they motivated to find a solution?

If the answer to these questions is ‘yes’, you are on the right trajectory.

The next step is to ensure that your message platform resonates with your target customer. Remember, people decide to buy based on satisfying emotional needs. So, in addition to providing your customer with the rational argument to purchase (features and benefits); be sure to highlight the emotional benefit they will receive. For example, they will have confidence that the test result you provide is accurate and with this information they can safely recommend a treatment plan for their patient.

Finally, how will you introduce your product to your customer? Where do they turn to get information to inform their clinical practice? Do they attend scientific conferences or read publications? Do they rely on thought leaders in their community or national organizations for insights in the latest practices? If you know the answers to these questions, you can develop a promotional plan to hit the right communications path that will put your product message in front of them.

To learn more about how to launch a product successfully, email us at and watch your business take off!

To the Moon in 42 Folds: Exponential Growth for Your Medtech Innovation

Imagine if you could reach the moon with a piece of paper. Alex Bellos writes in The Grapes of Math that this is possible. Theoretically. Assuming the average width of a letter size paper is 0.1mm in thickness, with each fold, it’s width doubles. It takes only 42 folds for it to reach the height needed to touch the moon from earth. Of course, while it’s not possible physically to fold a sheet more than seven times, it does raise an interesting question. What would it take to fold that paper 42 times?


Now, you may be asking, what does this have to do with scaling my business? Answer: Everything!

Business leaders often tell us that they want to scale their business quickly. Yet, to minimize risk, many want to avoid the traditional reimbursement path. This model is feasible if your innovation doesn’t impact the physician-to-patient treatment interaction. However, if it does, it is important to ensure the key stakeholders are ready to accept and support your product. In other words, consider how you are going to fold that paper 42 times.

Let’s take fitness trackers. Consumers have shown that they are more than willing to pay out-of-pocket for the full cost of these products—in fact, the Gartner Group suggested 2016 would realize sales of nearly $29 billion in this category.

However, if your device is specifically designed to help a person manage a diagnosed health condition, then your product falls into a category in which these same consumers consider themselves patients. As patients, they expect their health insurance provider to pay the costs for the innovation. So, if private or public insurers are ready to pay, great. If not, lining up the payers may seem harder than folding a piece of paper 42 times. But, here is the good news: it is more possible than theoretical.

Now, tell us how you want to scale your business. We’ll help with the folding.

(G)rowing in the Same Direction

Swing. It’s a term in rowing that describes that state in which all rowers appear to be moving in perfect harmony with no wasted effort. When each rower moves in synchronization, with every pull, momentum increases and the win is more assured.

pho_growingIt’s race day.
You boat is at the start.
What happens next will set the
tone for the entire contest. Will
you stay ahead of your
competition and come out
victorious? Will the crowds be
on your side? Will your team
achieve swing?

With a thoughtful strategy and planning, the answer to all of these questions can be yes.

Key Factors to Winning a Medical Innovation Race are:

  • The provider is eager to adopt the innovation
  • The patient is open to and accepting of the innovation
  • The payer is willing to pay for the innovation

Develop a (G)rowing Strategy

An integrated brand plan that focuses your cross-functional team’s efforts across all stakeholder groups ensures team alignment—everyone knows what to do and why. They know how to achieve swing.

Think of each target geography as a race. Before deploying a field team consider:

  • How many patients in the community are seeking treatment and from whom?
  • Who are the predominant payers and are they likely to cover your innovation?
  • Who are the providers and do they accept patients with the insurance plan that covers your innovation? Are the providers considered early adopters or are they slow to accept innovation?

By understanding these deep customer insights, strategies and tactical plans can be devised to ensure that the race will be won.

Now, tell us about your (g)rowing strategy.

Creating Opportunity through Storytelling

Once upon a time, there was a fabulous medical innovation that met a critical unmet need for lots and lots of people. It was quickly approved by the FDA, physicians incorporated it into their practice as soon as it launched and payers happily reimbursed it at a premium.

While this may seem like a dream, it can be reality. The original MULTI-LINK® stent from Guidant enjoyed a rapid FDA review and market share leadership within weeks of launching. BYETTA® (exenatide injection) for type 2 diabetes realized nearly $800MM in product sales within 18 months of launch. pho_storytelling

There were many factors that led to the early success of these products. An important one is that each of the product development teams had a clear understanding of the problem they were trying to solve. They understood how the product features translated into problem-solution benefits for the customer. Further, the product performance was supported by credible, clinical evidence.

You might ask, “What does this is have to do with creating opportunity through the art of storytelling?” The answer: everything.

All great stories have a beginning, middle and an end. The beginning introduces you to the protagonist (customer) and establishes the conflict (unmet need). Shortly thereafter the hero appears (the product). The customer is able to solve their problem with your product and everyone lives happily after.

You have a great product idea. You fully appreciate the customer’s challenge and how your innovation will address their needs. Tell the story in a compelling way that resonates with your customer and watch your company grow. So, tell us your story.

How to Prioritize Market Segments for Platform Solutions

Our clients recognize the value some investors place on technologies that have multiple applications. Yet, a common dilemma among founder’s is determining which market segment to target first.

Here are a few simple steps to help you determine how to prioritize your opportunities.

Step 1. Landscape Analysis – Customer Needs, Payment & Product Fit Here are some questions to answer that can help you identify your go-to-market strategy: ruckus_landscape_analysis

  1. What problem does your solution address?
  2. Who are all the customers who may have this problem?
    • Do these customers recognize they have a problem?
  3. Will the payer (commercial and government insurance) cover this solution in each clinical setting?
    • If so, does the payment level enable profitability?
  4. How motivated are the customers to use your solution?
  5. What is the total market opportunity and total addressable market for each application?
  6. Are there synergies across markets that can be leveraged over time?

Step 2. Market Attractiveness Criteria In addition to the questions above,  it is important to understand what your success criteria are and the relative value of each. These could include: total market opportunity, sales complexity, motivation to address unmet need, strength of value proposition, barriers to entry and more.

Step 3. Prioritization Steps one and two inform step three. By conducting due diligence on each market through primary and secondary research, you will gather market insights to inform an ‘apples to apples’ comparison. This will enable an at-a-glance view of where the opportunities and challenges lay leading to an informed decision. From here, commercialization strategies can be developed to maximize the opportunities and minimize the risks. Further, you will have a clear story to attract investors and employees to enlist in your vision!

Rapid Market Adoption: Pay Heed to the Patient, Physician (and Payer)

With the Accountable Care Act, now more lives are covered and the total cost burden
of healthcare is greater. Thus, payers (private and public) are seeking ways to
reduce costs. It is no longer enough to follow the FDA’s design control process
with a sole focus on the physician and patient. The payer’s need for proof of
economic value must also be considered.


Success Tip:

  • Consider the patient, physician and the payer during the “User Needs” phase:
    • Integrate product design, clinical study design and regulatory strategy with a complementary reimbursement strategy
    • Ensure the clinical data plan includes assessments of economic value and clinical outcomes

Resulting benefits include:

  • Patient realizes improved health with innovation
  • Physician benefits from a new treatment option
  • Payer will reward demonstration of improved outcomes at a lower cost

For on demand commercialization and reimbursement leadership, email us at or call 650-743-0059.

Payers and Providers are Innovating. Are you?

Commercial health insurance plans are innovating in a variety of ways. From shifting away from B2B toward B2C models to new retail partnerships, plans are embracing innovation as a way to grow business, cut costs and improve quality of care and the patient experience.


  • Aetna wants to “Radically re-invent the healthcare landscape” by moving to simpler, consumer directed health plans. The product offerings to employers are beginning to look more like individual health insurance exchanges and they want 75% of all provider payments to be value based.
  • Anthem and United are trying to improve the eating habits of their beneficiaries through partnerships with grocery stores—like Walmart. The partnerships show an increased interest in prevention as well as a significant shift to B2C engagement.
  • In their Vital Innovation program, Highmark is hoping to speed the adoption of value-based ideas and technologies. They provide funding for research “to accelerate the pace with which novel technologies and services are made available.”


Payers are innovating and want solutions that help them meet their financial goals.

  • New technologies that facilitate value based payment systems, improve quality of care or increase patient engagement are likely to have wheels with payers.
  • Therapies that allow patient management in the least intensive setting without compromising outcomes will also capture a plan’s attention.

Partnering with payers early in the development process will foster collaboration for innovation. Make sure your strategies keep the payer needs in view.

To contact Ruckus Partners, click here.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA): Standing on a Shore of Shifting Sands

With a new administration comes uncertainty in health policy that feels like shifting sands under our feet. This has been true for every Presidential transition in recent memory. With the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) unclear, changes from this new administration are expected to be more disruptive than in the past and not necessarily just in the ways we may think.

In addition to expanding access to health insurance, the ACA introduced many Medicare payment reforms. In 2016, Medicare implemented bundled payments for hip and knee replacements (Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement Model) and proposed to launch a similar program for acute myocardial infarction and cardiac surgery in July 2017 (Cardiac Incentive Payment Model).

With the new President’s Executive Order halting regulatory activity on the ACA, the status of these programs is unclear.

  • Should health systems continue to align incentives across the care paradigm to be prepared for bundled payments?
  • Will bundled payments go away?
  • Will new incentives be created?

The ACA also helped launch the Accountable Care Organization (ACO) movement in the market place which provides incentives via Medicare to encourage providers to develop integrated health care delivery models. Now, the future of the ACO model is uncertain.

  • Will the ACA repeal include the elimination of ACO initiatives?
  • Will ACA stay in place, but will the development of these care delivery models be slowed?
  • Will ACO initiatives from commercial health plans instead drive innovation in care delivery?

Today, the answers to these questions are unknown. So, we are left to watch and wait as Congress and the White House decide the future of our healthcare model.

The good news? You can do something now. You can learn where your technology fits within today’s payment system and be ready to adapt quickly as payment models change. So, while the sands are shifting, we can help you plan for today and be ready for tomorrow. Learn more by clicking here or emailing

Hello from Ruckus Partners!

We are thrilled to announce the launch of Ruckus Partners. It is a gift to do the work we do – to help people be healthy.

As we face the continued disruptions in our healthcare delivery system we need to adapt in order to thrive. Companies that flourish consider the patient, physician and the payer from the start to enable rapid market adoption and coverage at the time of launch.

Ruckus Partners helps companies bring innovations to market – smarter and leaner by integrating reimbursement and marketing strategy development during product development.

To contact Ruckus Partners, click here.

Recent Comments


    "Ruckus Partners facilitated the development of an integrated strategic marketing plan for my company.  They used a thoughtful process that was inclusive of all key team members input.  The effort aligned us to a common purpose and helped move us to the next stage in our company’s growth."

    Kim Bridges
    President & CEO, Acessa Health

    "Laura’s coaching on our pitch worked. People immediately understood what we are doing and the value we provide, and I had four investors reach out to say they wanted to invest during the event. That hasn't happened before."

    Colin M Carpenter
    President & CEO, Siris Medical Inc.

    "I worked with Laura when she led the marketing team at diaDexus. She is a very skilled marketer, adept at identifying the overarching commercial goals, customer needs and strategies necessary for success. A quick study and super smart. A motivating leader."

    Susan Hempstead
    former Senior Vice President, Account Management and Strategy, VIVO West

    "Laura brings her exceptional marketing and product strategy expertise to the portfolio development process…She has the ability to assess a technology opportunity, identify make or break issues, and tactfully communicate these – key to enable sound decision-making."

    Peggy Hawkins
    former Business Development & Venture Management, Santen, Inc.

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