Refine AI startup’s go-to-pharma strategy


A well-funded NYC tech startup had developed and proven its artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms and technology for patient support and pharma marketing programs early on with a few pharma brands. However, the startup was struggling to gain additional pharma business and was investing in fragmented, ineffective marketing tactics, so its board sought outside expertise to provide market insights, strategic recommendations, and practical next steps to the startup’s young founders.


After a series of structured interviews with key company leaders, the Health Accelerators (HA) team brought the senior leadership of the company, members of the board, and the company’s marketing agency together for a series of virtual strategy exercises and discussions. Drawing on input from prospective customer interviews and its deep experience with pharma brand teams, HA helped the company reshape its core value messages to pharma so that its impressive performance data from non-pharma areas in healthcare could be made relevant to a pharma brand leader.

HA reshaped the company’s other key messages and communications strategy to better focus on the needs of the pharma audience, and HA equipped the company’s agency with several core advertising and PR concepts to develop further. HA also uncovered a key issue for their lack of repeat business: clients needed to wait 9-12 months to receive reports on whether their marketing investments were working. A capstone alignment day was used to bring the company’s leadership, board, and agency together in person so they could move forward as an effective, cohesive team with a common understanding and approach.


By following the strategy and recommendations laid out through this engagement, the startup was equipped to shift its messaging and tactical plans without a significant increase in budget or agency burn rate, while better resonating with the pharma audience that was critical to its future success. They refocused messaging on benefits to pharma brands, such as maximizing the impact and efficiency of patient support programs and omnichannel pharma marketing and found ways to make their non-pharma case studies relevant to brand leaders.

Based on our recommendations they also developed interim performance reports for their current clients to reassure them that projects were on track, even though the formal ROI analyses often took 9-12 months to complete. These interim reports also became the source for several blinded pharma case studies used in selling. The engagement lasted two months and set the company up for a successful course correction at an important point in its history.