One on One with Medicx Founder Michael Weintraub
We sat for a wide-ranging interview with Medicx founder, CEO and president Michael Weintraub to discuss his career experiences with health data monetization, the right time to bet on your talents, and life lessons he has learned from his commitment to fitness and a healthy lifestyle using high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
Q: You've worked in the life sciences industry in different capacities for nearly your entire career, about 37 years. What about the work has kept you engaged and coming back for more?
Michael Weintraub: I've been in the healthcare and life sciences industry since 1982. Before that, I was a pharmacist. I discovered I had a passion for the data and for working with people in the industry to solve serious business problems. The data and the insights garnered from it opened everyone's eyes.
Having worked around health data for so long and looking for ways to apply it–here at Medicx and at other companies in the past–became an ongoing challenge in my mind about how to leverage and monetize data assets. It started as a job and became a passion.
Q: What inspired you to step out on your own to found Medicx in 2006?
MW: I had been working for what’s now Symphony Health for 20 years, and I saw how my ideas were the impetus for a lot of growth in the company, and an enormous amount of revenue. There was so much money being spent on DTC media. And I saw very little investment in it by my company and our competitors. So, I saw a huge opportunity.
I was turning 50 that year. I knew I had one shot left to do it on my own. It was time to make a bet on myself. The company where I had worked for the majority of my career had just been sold. I didn't love where they were taking it, and I didn't want to look back in another 15-20 years and wonder what I could have accomplished.
Q: Looking back to those days, what is one insight you wish you had known about the business when you started the company?
MW: I wish I hadn’t been as naïve and sure of myself that my idea was great and that adoption would happen quickly. We were the first to market with data-driven advertising. We invented it in 2007 and 2008. Targeting consumers and using offline health data are bellwether concepts that agencies didn't understand when we first started promoting them. We heard over and over that we were five years ahead of the marketplace.
At times, I wondered if I could keep the doors open. What would I say to my investors? I thought I was going to have to moonlight as a pharmacist to pay the bills. I doubt I would have done anything differently. You can’t climb to the top of the mountain without taking a risk. So, I hung in there, pivoted the business as programmatic was just a conversation, and here we are.
Q: Which industry trend are you most excited about right now?
MW: It is an excellent time for advanced TV, specifically CTV. We see more of a digital application because addressable TV has its limitations. The cost to run an addressable TV commercial is much different than for a connected TV commercial. There is incredible potential if we can stay out ahead of the very dynamic world of CTV. If it is easy enough for people to adapt to it, it will be possible to build some considerable scale there.
Q: What are three words you use to describe Medicx Media Solutions?
MW: Safe, innovative, and SME’s (subject matter experts) in pharma and health. By subject matter experts, I mean it is about knowing our space, our clients, their business challenges, and staying focused by not trying to be all things to all people.
I have been asked many times why we don't apply our platform to other categories like automotive. The truth is that the health industry accounts for one-fifth of the GDP in the country. According to Kantar and Nielsen, nearly $12 billion is spent on healthcare advertising in the US each year—pharma media alone accounts for half of that spend each year. Thus, we still have plenty of opportunities to grow and help our customers in this vertical.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about Medicx?
MW: The biggest misconception is that we aren't HIPAA-compliant—we've been challenged. We definitely are HIPAA-compliant. We've always taken the high road on HIPAA and patient privacy to steer clear of any potential HIPAA issues. Other companies in the industry use the look-a-like models or the “safe harbor” method to de-identify protected health information because they want be able to commercialize their data. Because we use the expert statistical determination method, we don't license our data to any third parties. We embed it into our offerings to create a powerful closed-loop platform where we can manage our customers’ media for them, or they can take our platform in-house with our support.
Q: You spend a lot of time outside the office doing HIIT training. What got you started working out? And what have you learned from it that you apply to your Medicx life?
MW: I made a significant career change at 50 years old. I walked away from a big, lucrative job to start my own company. And five years later, my wife was working out with a trainer, and looking 20 years younger than her actual age. I was using an elliptical machine and not making much progress.
I started looking around for a place to work out that would be welcoming and not intimidating. I stumbled upon my gym through a friend on Facebook. They have classes from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM so I couldn't make excuses that I wasn’t able to find the time to work out. I got into a routine that works for me and have stuck with it for over eight years.
They also taught us about nutrition and started a fitness challenge. I learned how to eat without feeling like I am dieting. The big thing was keeping a food diary, which helps me hold myself accountable. I lost 27 pounds and cut my body fat in half on that first fitness challenge.
In the end, it was the same attitude I had when I started the business. My family got into the whole fitness and healthy lifestyle, making it much easier to stay committed at home. Now, for me, it has become a passion. I know my commitment to fitness and health not only gives me confidence, but it also keeps me sharp, and it’s done great things for my family too.
Q: If you could choose anyone who would be your dream mentor?
MW: I could probably relate most to Steve Jobs. People have accused me of having his temperament. I didn't invent the iPhone or Mac, but I created some products that were quite revolutionary in my career in the [life sciences] industry.
Medicx Media Solutions provides best-in-class data-driven healthcare media analytics that set the standard for hyper-locally targeted multichannel marketing and media campaigns with a focus on life sciences and other health-related brands. Learn more at medicxmedia.com.