Cover Image for ⚓️ Explorers Club: Healthtech & AI

⚓️ Explorers Club: Healthtech & AI

Hosted by Jason Benn & Alicia Chen
Past Event
Welcome! To join the event, please register below.
About Event

The Explorers Club is designed to help you find a great thinking partner.

This event is themed! Please share this invite with anyone interested in biotech, longevity, healthcare, mental health, or other related fields. If you're interested in AI, you should also be interested in healthtech.

There's some light structure. It's kind of like speed dating. (This is our third time running this event, and we iterate each time.)

  • Everyone puts their hunch in a spreadsheet. Here's the sheet from last time.

  • We rate each other ideas by how interested we are in the same thing, from 1-10.

  • We run a variant of the Stable Marriage matching algorithm and sort everyone into pairs for 20 minute conversations!

  • Whoever is back after 20 minutes gets matched into new pairs. (If you miss the boat, we assume it's because you're having such a great conversation that you didn't want to stop)

  • Usually we'll do 3-4 rounds, then stop for free mingling.

We encourage ideas at all stages of the generative process, from intuitive inklings, to illegible hunches, to great questions, to concrete ideas, to polished pitches. Remember to ask your partner for the kind of feedback they're looking for, because needs vary greatly by stage.

Here are some example ideas that you might put in the spreadsheet.

  • I want to make the Grand Unified Theory of Collective Flourishing

  • I think most people are wrong about biology lab automation, and I want to write about it

  • A new therapeutic tool which aids those struggling with depression, anxiety, trauma etc through the art of play

  • AI EMR

Excited to see you there,
— Jason and Alicia

Postscript: the culture of Explorers Club

There are lots of places to go if you have a great idea: incubators, accelerators, employers, grantmakers. But what about before you have the great idea? Not so much.

This "illegible phase", when you have a strong hunch about something but struggle to explain it or where it's missing key pieces, took me like 6-15 months to get through, depending on how you count. The history of innovation would suggest that this is normal. Darwin took 15 months to realize his theory of evolution, Page and Brin met and worked together for a couple years before starting a search engine (then called BackRub), Watson and Crick spent years researching together before discovering the double helix structure of DNA, etc. Turns out that ideas don't hit you like a bolt of lightning so often as they gradually unfold. It's more about being patient (for months or years), following your curiosity, and exploring in the general vicinity of your hunch.

Last June, mine would've been "How might we raise families in community in the city?", and by October it would've evolved to "How might we take over a whole block on Twin Peaks?", by January it would've been "How do I convince/help 50 friends move into a single square mile, and where should that be?", this June it would've been "I think sponteneity is the bedrock of friendship and I want to lower the barriers", etc. At each stage there were key pieces missing and/or wrong assumptions, and that's normal.

There's a huge variance in how much a collaborator can help. Perhaps they have a knack for asking the question that helps you think about it from a new angle that unlocks a key insight. Or perhaps you have the same passion but bring different relevant experience. Watson and Crick were both fascinated by the structure of DNA, but Watson's background in biology and Crick's background in phyics allowed them to play complementary roles. That's why this Explorers' Club features a crossover between healthtech and AI.

This event will work best if you embody a few cultural guidelines:

  1. We're not all here to make startups. Great ideas can be about lots of things. If you're producing value, trust that there will be opportunities to monetize it later.

  2. Struggling to explain why you think something is interesting or how it could be financially sustainable is totally normal.

  3. Try to strike the right balance between creative riffing ("yes, and...") and diplomatic disagreeableness (disagreeing because you care about them, while being open-minded to being wrong).

And here are some of my favorite mental models for being a great thinking partner:

  1. Try to model what they're imagining in your head, and look for where your confused, and ask about that.

  2. Reflect what you're hearing ("it sounds like you're saying..."), or attempt bold, pithy, or metaphorical/evocative summaries.

  3. Tell a story about your own related experiences, or share resources you love.

  4. Ask questions that raise their aspirations, like "What would you do differently if you had $500K?" or "What dream coalition would you build?" or "How could you make 10x faster progress?"