The Healthtech VC #014: How to pitch your startup to a healthtech journalist with Mimi Billing

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

Mimi Billing is a senior reporter at Sifted, a Financial Times-backed media outlet, where she covers pan-European Healthtech. As a Swede, Mimi’s tech experience started in the vibrant Swedish tech sector which has spun out exciting healthtech startups including Kry (also called Livi in the UK) and Min Doktor.


Backed by the Financial Times, Sifted is a media outlet that covers everything about the pan-European start-up ecosystem and regularly does deep dives into topics that matter to founders and investors alike. The pandemic has drawn communities together and the startup communities are no different. This has meant an increased readership at Sifted during the pandemic and the organisation has responded by being able to connect startups in a useful manner during these difficult times. 

Going to market in Europe

Mimi touches on the fact that culture and language varies across Europe. As a journalist with such a large geographical remit, she has to be comfortable with dealing with cultural differences. It is important to remember that Europe isn’t a single territory or a single bloc customer; there are differences between countries but also even between cities within a country. This is an important topic to consider if you’re a startup trying to devise a European go to market strategy and scale across Europe. 

It can be slow to sell in Europe and things can take time in bureaucratic hospital systems. Swedish people are very aware of various healthtech startups in a way that people in the UK and Germany are not. Thus, some countries are introducing change at the policy level and bringing in system-wide levers to address technological change in healthcare. Germany have introduced their digital health legislation, DIGA, which allows for prescription of approved digital therapeutics. The UK have introduced the organisation, NHSX, to provide policy levers and funding to drive technological innovation in healthcare.

The role of journalists in the healthtech ecosystem

Mimi discusses how journalists are an imperative part of the healthtech ecosystem. According to her, journalists are key to fuelling growth dynamics in healthcare innovation. From working with founders, operators, PR companies and others, journalists provide a part of the infrastructure of this community, shining a spotlight on the fastest growing startups. Their work encourages people to apply to work at these startups and signal potential new portfolio companies to investors and business partnerships for startups.

When should startups reach out to journalists?

Journalists are often inundated by requests from startups pitching to them. You need a great product/service and unique selling point to stand out from the crowd of PR pitches and startup emails. There is naturally a tension between getting attention onto your startup early on in its journey versus having a great company to talk about. Mimi touches on the key success criteria for getting media coverage which include startups creating a relationship with the journalist early on, doing their research on the publication and due diligence on the journalist’s work prior to reaching out. Don’t forget that journalists don’t write for individual startups or investors, they write for their readership. Think about why the readers of a publication would want to hear about your healthtech company.  Writing cycles are also important; if a publication or a journalist has covered sleep apps last month, they are unlikely to cover this again in the next couple of months so be savvy in your timing.

If you have a great idea, reach out to Mimi on Linkedin. 

Read about Sifted here: