Building a Startup in a Weekend with BizSpark & SQL Azure

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On the 30th anniversary of the 1st AIDS case ever documented, Scott Mustard pitched his & Claudia Pucci, M.D.’s vision for simplifying the arduous process doctors have to go through to document atypical cases, such as those first citings of HIV/AIDS.

When doctors note unusual findings in a medical case, they search the medical literature and may document it if they can’t find an exact or very close match. Often such cases are never reported due to a cumbersome submission process. In the example of HIV/AIDS, a small tight knit community was seeing the same observations but collaboration was word of mouth and analog. This delayed the publication of the first case by years.

Having a vetted central repository for this information – as envisioned by Claudia & Scott – would have been a huge help in identifying and treating new cases of HIV infections.

Case Reportal: What intersting case do ou need to share with the medical community?

How did it all come together?

Scott had already been planning on attending Startup Weekend. When Claudia, an Attending Physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, mentioned her frustration with the current case reporting process, the idea for CaseReportal was born.

Friday night, Scott stood up and pitched the idea to over 130 Startup Weekend attendees. Then he got busy, getting out into the audience with the mission of finding the right talent. And he succeeded – to the tune of 15 people, one of the largest teams at the event.

15 people is a HUGE team to bring together to make something happen in 54 hours, especially when none of them had ever worked together before. Peeking into the conference room they took over for the event was like seeing mission control in action.

Validating their Idea

Half the team focused on the business end. They spoke to doctors. They did preliminary financial forecasting to start thinking about the revenue model. Over the weekend, they captured 20 data points from 18 doctors & medical personnel to validate their ideas.

Can you DO an Azure solution in 54 hours using the free Azure in BizSpark?

The other half of the team was split into designers and developers. They used ASP.NET MVC and started off on SQL Server. I invited them into BizSpark and let them know about the free Azure. Of course, they were skeptical. None of them had used Azure before and there’s no time for learning curves when you only have a weekend. But, they agreed to give it a try. We signed them up, a few clicks to create a database instance in the Azure Portal, and they tried connecting to it with SQL Server Management Studio. It worked!

Encouraged, they tried updating the server in their code’s database connection string to point to SQL Azure and… it worked! Their code was automatically building the schema, so once they connected it built the schema and started using it just as expected.

Nick Goodwin, their lead developer, admitted his surprise. “I had some pretty serious doubt about switching from a local DB to SQL Azure… but it was a breeze and just worked.”

Demo Time

5pm Sunday night. It’s time for each of the teams to demo what they’ve got to the other attendees and a panel of judges. The team got their software working literally within minutes of the demo and then Scott had to show it off and hope it would work.

Claudia couldn’t be there in person because she was hosting colleagues from Mass General Hospital when the demo took place. Hating to miss it completely, she joined in with Skype. And good thing! One of the first questions was from judge Rob Go (Partner, NextView Ventures) about a popular physician’s website. The rest of the team – not being doctors – had a brief deer-in-the-headlights moment before Claudia popped on screen from Skype to provide a brilliant answer.

Everyone breathed a sigh of relief and the rest of the questions went wonderfully. So well that the judges awarded CaseReportal 1st place. We also gave them an XBox/Kinect for their stellar use of Microsoft technology, which – as you can see in the picture below – they were pretty excited about. :)

CaseReportal celebrating their win & the

What’s next?

A couple minutes after this picture was snapped, Scott rushed out to meet with Claudia and her MGH colleagues to show off CaseReportal. They were duly impressed and expressed strong interest in doing a pilot. Scott has since bought the trademark and is incorporating this week, with himself and Claudia as co-founders. Discussions are underway to keep a couple members of their Startup Weekend team moving forward.

Congratulations, CaseReportal! We look forward to your continued success & following your positive impact on the medical community.