The Healthtech VC #013: Hiring the right team in AI healthcare with Emil Larsson

Listen to the full episode of The Healthtech VC podcast on Apple Podcasts here and on Spotify here.  

Emil Larsson is a global executive search specialist in the medical imaging space, regularly helping post-Series A startups to hire top talent. As various global medical imaging AI landscapes develop and startups grow to become scaleups, specialist recruiters are a key part of this bustling ecosystem. 

Medical Imaging and AI Ecosystem

Emil’s work covers EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) with a large amount of work derived from the UK, DACH (particularly Germany) and France. 

He helps large imaging companies hire talent and also, importantly for this podcast, focuses on the more niche end of medical imaging startups that we at Crista Galli Ventures, invest in. The evolving early-stage nature of the AI healthcare market makes it an exciting space to be a founder or an investor. As startups become scaleups, they realise that they need to move beyond their immediate networks to recruit new hires. 

Emil will often get to know startups early on, keeping in touch with them until they have reached a stage where they have capacity for hiring external talent. This moment in the funding cycles of early-stage companies, tends to come at the series A and post series A stage of funding where the recent cash injection means they can afford to pay closer to market rates for experienced hires.

How recruiters are moving beyond ‘just’ hiring

Emil’s company, CM Medical, and other specialist recruiters are moving beyond only placing talent into companies and now provide a whole suite of market intelligence to their clients.  In a fast-paced online world, recruiters are also evolving their business models by creating market insights that matters for their clients and the wider ecosystem. No longer can they rely on ‘just’ placing people into roles.  Specialist recruiters work in collaboration with consulting services and regulatory contracting services, putting startups in touch with relevant reimbursement services as they look to get reimbursement codes for their products. Given their nature of working with multiple companies, specialist recruiters hold an innate amount of macro knowledge about the medical AI startup space. Emil often knows what will, and will not, work for a given startup, in a given location at a specific stage of funding and regulatory approvals.

Hiring talent in medical startups

Startups must set realistic expectations around culture prior to starting an external hiring process. This is especially important in a post-pandemic, remote working world, culture will be the key thread holding remote teams together.  Ensuring a rigorous and open process for new hires can avoid a scenario where a new hire looks great on paper but doesn’t fit into the startup’s culture when they hit the ground running.  Emil discusses the idea of warrant programmes for key hires, how to coax senior hires from big corporates and the role of personality testing in hiring. Some medical imaging start-ups start becoming a mini-versionof Siemens or Philips and it is important to consider diversity of skills and product backgrounds of incoming talent to avoid this scenario.

What skills are AI startups looking for?

Medical AI startups are looking for intellectually curious, analytical people who are flexible in their approach. Emil discusses how those from an academic (PhD) background, doctors and those from management consulting can transition to healthtech. Emil’s top tip for those looking to transition into healthtech is to make the effort to really understand ‘the business of healthcare’ and to get as many touchpoints in the healthtech world as possible. For a doctor, this might be consulting for or advising a startup, helping their hospital or GP practice with digital health strategies or getting involved with national organisations such as NHSX or NICE (National Institute of Clinical Excellence). The more touchpoints you obtain, the more opportunities will present themselves and a positive flywheel into healthtech will emerge naturally.

Learn more about Emil and CM Medical:

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