Andrew Lyle, a Flexible MBA student, won first place in both rounds of Carey’s Student Startup Challenge for his telemedicine comparison platform, Sifter.
On April 30, seven Carey Business School teams and students competed for funding to infuse into their startups as part of the Student Startup Challenge. Andrew Lyle, a Flexible MBA student, took home the top purse in both the first and second rounds of the challenge, totaling $15,500, to invest in his newly launched telemedicine site, Sifter.
The Student Startup Challenge encourages Carey students and entrepreneurs to bring their visions to life and their ideas to market. As solo entrepreneurs or in teams, students compete for two rounds of funding by pitching their business plans to a panel of investors and industry experts. In the first round, the top team or teams receive various amount of seed funding to develop their concepts, meet monthly with an industry mentor, and receive valuable investor feedback. Then they reconvene for a second round to show their progress, with one winning team taking home the $10,000 prize.
In both rounds, Lyle competed against six other Carey Business School teams with pitches including an AI platform that predicts the success rate of new drug candidates, an app that increases visibility and traffic for local restaurants, and a platform that facilitates and guides Chinese families and students through the application and acceptance to U.S. universities, among others.
The winning pitch
Lyle swept both rounds in the Student Startup Challenge with his telemedicine platform, Sifter, a website that helps consumers navigate and compare telemedicine options. Just like Expedia, Lyle’s site gives patients the opportunity to select their telemedicine preferences: choosing their treatment, price point, and location to find the best provider.
“How can we simplify this process?” Lyle asked. “I came up with this idea for a central database for telemedicine companies that puts the decision making in the hands of the patient.”
Lyle used his initial round of funding for web development, user experience design, and paid media to drive traffic. The site launched mid-April, and since then he has seen continued growth of the platform, new visitors, and conversions. He’s heard from telemedicine providers asking to be included.
"It’s the wild, wild West in telemedicine. It’s a free-for-all trying to get patients’ attention any way possible."
The $10,000 he received in the second round of funding will go to what Lyle calls the “phase two launch of the company.” This includes releasing new features and advanced web analytics. He will also allocate some of the funds for additional paid media to promote growth and for administrative costs including analytics tools and platform management.
Lyle’s idea for Sifter began after he was inundated with online advertisements for telemedicine options ranging from men’s health and fertility to dermatology telemedicine options. Drawing on his years of experience working at a pharmaceutical company, he viewed the deluge through a patient’s perspective.
“It’s the wild, wild West in telemedicine. It’s a free-for-all trying to get patients’ attention any way possible,” said Lyle.
A new world of telemedicine
Most consumers are first finding information about telemedicine through online ads. While consumers have the ability to compare options now, in theory, the number of telemedicine options and providers makes it nearly impossible to make a meaningful comparison.
Lyle’s website aims to change that, and he thinks consumers will bite.
According to Lyle’s research, 73 percent of consumers want to compare health care options. His site extends the power of comparison to telemedicine.
“I spent 45 minutes researching which vacuum to buy for myself; why wouldn’t you do that with health care?” Lyle asked.
Sifter’s launch coincided with a surge in telemedicine offerings amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Lyle says COVID-19 has helped to generate interest in Sifter and telemedicine more broadly.
“As numerous people are beginning to advertise COVID screening program and COVID test kits, Sifter is able to provide available options and provide the facts to patients,” Lyle said. “COVID-19 is going to change the norm in health care and drive more telemedicine utilization even after the pandemic subsides.”