Center4 (Social Innovation) in NYC

Technology has the ability to touch our lives because of its ubiquitous nature and its unique role as an enabling platform. I had the pleasure of attending the grand opening of the Center4 (205 West 39th Street, 16th floor) in NYC. The mission of Center4 is to help benefit social good by transforming the nonprofit health and human services sector by accelerating technological innovation. Its sponsorship includes the Blue Ridge Foundation, FEGS, and the Booth Ferriss Foundation.

Center4 focuses on the 4th sector of social innovation, which is the combination of 3 other sectors -government, private, and the nonprofit sector to solve social and healthcare issues including homelessness, mental health, workforce and employment needs, aging and youth development. There are currently ~35,000 nonprofits in the city and the center is a way of matching the tech space with nonprofits, as well as providing resources and mentorship for better efficiency and sustainability.

Brian Cohen, Chairman of NY Angels, spoke at the grand opening and talked about the need for people words and human words when it comes to technology. At the event, he announced the establishment of “Angels for Good”, which would educate angel investors on investing for social good, he also presented the Center with a check for $10,000.

14 different companies were showcased at the grand opening and I had the opportunity to talk to 2 of them in depth. The first company was Apploi (, which seeks to connect job seekers and employers, particularly in the service and hospitality industries via mobile technology. Employers pay to list jobs, and the app is free for job seekers who fill out a one time application, as opposed to filling out the same form and details over and over again for multiple jobs. It is device agnostic and is available as a free-standing kiosk or can be accessed from any mobile device. This is especially helpful, as job seekers who do not have land lines can easily access jobs through their mobile phones. Another key feature of the app is that it lets employers record questions and potential employees record responses. For example, a restaurant owner could ask a potential bartender hire to record him/herself making a martini. A second key feature of the app is the ability to show users jobs that are nearby, so a job seeker could potentially walk down a street and be notified that job openings are available.

The second company that I spoke to was CauseVox, an online fundraising platform for individuals, causes and nonprofits. Clients have the ability to design and customize their fundraising sites and have access to fundraising and social media enabling tools. The Causevox site ( also offers tools, tips and resources to help clients in their fundraising efforts.

Center4 is yet another example of what is happening in NYC’s ever growing tech and entrepreneurial ecosystem. Moreover, it brings the work of social good and social innovation to the forefront and celebrates it.

To find out more about Center4 please visit their web site at:


Being “P/C” About Healthcare -It’s Not What You Think

There are many words that are often used when it comes to talking about technology, healthcare and entrepreneurship. Call them what you like, jargon, buzz words, professional language -they help us frame how we think about the problems that exist, and are often a signal that a person has been initiated into this world. There are also the acronyms, the alphabet soup that consists of ACA’s, AMA’s, UX/UI, and to a certain extent, because of their quantity, OMG’s, the resultant WT*’s, and hopefully a certain DIY attitude that helps define the spirit of entrepreneurship and the entrepreneur.
For me, it’s less about acronyms and more about the meaning behind the words that we use. It’s less about disruption, and more about being “P/C” about healthcare and digital health. Whenever I think about what’s happening now and what will happen, the same words always float in my mind.
The P’s
-PEOPLE. To me, people are at the core of everything. People are a part of the why and how of everything. It’s people who run companies, it’s people who are affected by the system, it’s people who inspire us to do what we do. In healthcare, it’s the patients and the providers (doctors, nurses, allied health etc) who are at the center of the ecoystem, even though it seems like sometimes they are lost in the fold. This leads me to another “P” word, and that is participation. I believe that a system works most effectively when the people who are most affected by it are able to fully participate in the processes and design of that system.
-PURPOSE. I believe that having a clear purpose is incredibly powerful; it guides your actions. Put yourself in the places of greatest need, where your skills and talents can make a difference. For many, a purpose that is connected to service is often connected to joy -the kind that cannot be bought, but multiplies and is inherent to who we  are and strive to be as human beings.
-PASSION. Passion is the fire that lights our days and warms us during the cold twilight of our endeavors. Passion is what drives us to go farther than we ever could without it. Passion is the match that sets the rest of the world aflame.
-PLATFORMS. Technology is a platform that enables us to do things that we could only dream about before. With every new groundbreaking technological advance, new technologies and methodologies are built upon that. Platforms are also important because they give people a place to stand and be heard.
-PILOT. Pilots are important because they let us test out if an idea works and how we can improve upon it in a real world setting -the only setting that really, truly, matters.
-PIONEER. In a way, being an entrepreneur is about being a pioneer. It’s about embarking into often unknown territory with only your mind, your dreams, and the tools that you have and then making your way. It’s about being able to change the landscape of the places that you touch.
-PROGRESS. Sometimes bold, drastic change is needed. Other times, it’s about those incremental improvements that add up to something in the long-term. Imagine an ocean of change being built up by adding one droplet of water at a time. When it comes to progress, I also think about changing the ratio in healthcare, business and technology. Women are often the primary consumers and decision-makers in a household, especially when it comes to healthcare, so why aren’t they more equally represented when it comes decision-making at the broader, executive and national levels? This needs to change and it will. Personally, I’m committed to making that happen.
-POSSIBILITIES. The world is full of possibilities and they are limitless. If none are seen, then make your impossibility an I’M POSSIBLE-ility.
The C’s
-CHANGE. It’s about having an open mind, change cannot happen without that first step. It’s about being open to the idea that change is needed and being open to solutions that can come from anywhere.
-CARE. HealthCARE. We need to take care of ourselves in order to be healthy. We need to put care into what we do and how we do it when it comes to what happens to the people who are affected by what we do.
-COMMUNICATION. It’s a cornerstone of healthcare. It’s often the breakdown in communication that leads to a snowball effect of issues down the road. How do we work towards not just hearing each other but listening as well? Words are important, but their meaning even more so; people hear your heart language before they hear your words.
-COLLABORATION. Working together and building teams is a way of celebrating our differences and sharing our individual strengths to support the changes we are trying to achieve in a synergistic way.
-CONNECTION. We live in a connected world and it will become ever more so with the Internet of Things. However, connection isn’t just about the physical connections, it’s also about getting through to the heart of the problem and more importantly to the hearts of the people. It’s about being able to see the whites of people’s eyes, about being able to understand our commonalities, our needs, our wants, our collective dreams.
-COMMUNITY. Building an ecosystem is incredibly important. It takes a village, in fact it will take many villages. A sense of community is important because it is the broader unit to which we are all apart of. Communities are built, they aren’t just made, and their strength lies in their members.
-CODE OF ETHICS. CODE OF HONOR. CONSCIOUS CAPITALISM.  As a doctor, as a student of medicine, we take the Hippocratic oath, and it’s about being in service to others and “first do no harm”.  We are also human, and making mistakes is a part of our humanity. It’s not about being perfect, it’s about acting with a conscience. Everyone at one time or another has been privy to the ugly side of business -broken promises, expectations that were not met, outright lying and backstabbing. It’s just business, people say, that’s how it is. I disagree and reject that.  Business isn’t a war, it’s more like the Olympics, where people work hard to be the best and compete so that the combined efforts lead to a societal win. I believe that you can do good by doing well and you can do well by doing good. I believe that you can prosper without being a jerk and I believe that we can change the notion of how business can be by refusing to drag ourselves to that level. Your word should be as good and as binding as the paper with which you endorse and sign your name. Integrity, trust, honor, these are the words that matter in business, and in life.