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Venture Strategy: HealthTeacher mobilizing community allies to advance contract sales
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CEO Scott McQuigg HealthTeacher

HealthTeacher, which supports K-12 health teachers, aims to attract community funding for its customers' purchases, nationwide.

With U.S. schools' budgets drained and health problems rampant among students, HealthTeacher CEO Scott McQuigg told VNC during an interview Saturday that he is now spending most of his personal time working on market-by-market alliances to ensure schools can obtain HealthTeacher instructional materials.

Going forward, a much smaller portion of HealthTeacher's marketing and development effort will be allocated toward freestanding school districts, individual schools and isolated teacher-subscribers – even though teachers and their districts will remain HealthTeacher's customers and end-users.

McQuigg explained his company must shift its focus to community funding partners, largely because Federal "No Child Left Behind" mandates have resulted in shifting school funding toward math, science and reading materials, often leaving little or no funding for health education, physical education and similar pursuits.

McQuigg declined to provide financial data on his company, but said there are currently 15 HealthTeacher employees, with about half those in Nashville.  HealthTeacher investors or investor representatives, in addition to McQuigg, include Koleman Karleski of Chrysalis Ventures, based in Louisville; and, Rob Smith of Petra Capital Partners, based in Nashville.

McQuigg said that thus far under HealthTeacher's new strategy the company has executed a dozen "community health education collaborative agreements," including several that have not yet been formally announced.

"We're not alone in this space, that's for sure," McQuigg continued, but he said major publishers of health textbooks have such broad interests that it creates a competitive advantage for niche-focused HealthTeacher, at least for now.

"Our unique value proposition for teachers, and for schools and to our community partners is that 'this is all we do'," McQuigg said.

In line with that proposition, and to ensure that the new collaborative alliances work, HealthTeacher is working with local leaders to create permanent advocacy and fundraising organizations in each community, with ad hoc support or, less frequently, even fulltime staffing from HealthTeacher.

McQuigg told VNC his company's Sept. 7 announcement of two new board members with credentials in children's health, healthcare delivery and publishing is a direct result of the company's intense new focus on these alliances with hospitals, health systems, businesses and schools.

To accelerate its efforts, six months ago HealthTeacher appointed Jon Vice (at right) a special advisor to management on collaboratives. Vice retired in January as CEO of Children's Hospital and Health System, in Milwaukee.  Now, both Vice and veteran education publisher Gary Facente have been named to HealthTeacher's board of directors.

McQuigg told VNC that Facente's appointment is an individual one, rather than being tied to Facente's long-standing involvement in several publishing ventures. McQuigg indicated Facente's entry does not, for example, foreshadow a strategic investment by EMC Publishing Co., in St. Paul, Minn.

Facente, himself, told VNC in an email response to a query that he is "non-executive" chairman of EMC and resides in Santa Rosa, Calif.  Facente also holds directorships with Penn Foster Schools, a distance education provider; and, with Carus Publishing Company, a family-owned publisher of magazines for children.  Facente was also previously CEO of Delta Education, a provider of K-12 science and reading materials.

In addition, HealthTeacher is stepping-up its relationships with key national organizations.  For instance, later this month HealthTeacher teams will participate in the annual conference of the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy, convening in San Francisco; and, in October the company will advocate for "sustainable" health-education partnerships during a breakout session during the annual meeting of the National Association of Children's Hospitals and Related Institutions, in Orlando.

McQuigg said HealthTeacher will maintain its current focus for the forseeable future, but may eventually diversify into more "student- or parent-facing" offerings, to augment teachers' efforts.

Last week, the McQuigg-led parent company, previously known as ConnectivHealth, changed its name to HealthTeacher Inc., and remains registered in Delaware.

In the wake of the recent sale of other corporate assets, HealthTeacher represented the only active line of business for the company, although the ConnectivHealth, Relegent and other entities owned by now-HealthTeacher are being maintained as active for a variety of administrative reasons.

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Tags: Carus Publishing Co., Chrysalis Ventures, ConnectivHealth, Delta Education, EMC Publishing, Gary Facente, healthcare, hospitals, Jon Vice, K-12 education, Koleman Karleski, Penn Foster Schools, Petra Capital Partners, philanthropy, Relegent, Rob Smith, Scott McQuigg, venture capital

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