From Struggling with a Virus to Celebrating Life at is Virtual Best

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COVID-19 has shaken us out of complacency, disrupting our lives and catalyzing a “new normal.” In this new reality of distancing, remote work, and a major shift to digital channels, the delivery of and access to health and care solutions has become a challenge. Not so fun, to say the least, but the flip side of the coin is a once-in-a-decade opportunity to push the “refresh button” and embark on a journey to a happier, healthier life. Lockdowns left us with no choice but trying, engaging, and getting used to a new world of Virtual Health and Wellness available at our fingertips and evolving rapidly. As someone who has lived and breathed this world for the past two decades, I’ve been getting daily inquiries from friends, family, and business colleagues to direct them to the best virtual health and wellbeing resources. And as an investor and advisor, I’m receiving more and more requests for funding and advice from both large companies and startups racing to create new and better solutions to help the billions of people who need virtual access to health and care resources more than any time before.

This proliferation of, and quest for Virtual Health and Wellbeing solutions, as well as the dire need I’m feeling and observing for more community and human connection, sparked in my mind and heart a new idea for a better way to Learn about, Connect with, and Experience what’s best in this rapidly evolving field. This need and passion inspired me to design FestiHealth, the first Virtual Health Festival that’s driven by a mission to do good and have fun by educating people about, connecting them to, and engaging them in a healthier, happier life! FestiHealth opens the door for everyone to a brighter and happier future, enabled by a vibrant community that is creating and using innovative Virtual Health & Wellness solutions to make life more enjoyable, and care more accessible and affordable for all.

Friends and family loved the idea so much that they jumped in immediately to help me recruit Virtual Health experts, as well as trainers and instructors of virtual wellness activities (like yoga, fitness, meditation, comedy, art, and music), and inventors/makers of cutting-edge health tech solutions that help individuals and organizations live and foster healthier, happier lives.

Then came the fun part: designing a great virtual experience where people can Learn, Experience, and Connect. It started with a sketch of the grounds of a virtual festival that included a large stage in the middle for engaging and showcasing insightful speakers, brilliant inventors, and top experts in healthcare, technology, entertainment, business, and design to help individuals and organizations understand the new world of Virtual Health.

Around the stage, I added virtual interactive rooms where the best and most engaging trainers and instructors would offer a wide variety of live virtual activities like ashtanga yoga, meditation, intenSati exercise, and healthy cooking classes. In the next concentric circle, I added a dynamic Virtual Expo Hall where makers, physicians, and providers of the best virtual care and wellness solutions would offer demos, and free trials for their leading products and services.

Since human connections are so central to our health and well-being, and lockdowns and quarantines have drawn us apart, networking and meeting people at FestiHealth needed to be seamless and integrated into every part of the experience. I wanted everyone to easily engage in group or private conversations with friends, loved ones, and colleagues, or easily make new, meaningful, and valuable connections with people they meet. Just for fun, I added a Virtual Juice and Coffee Bar, where talented artists would play live music and perform stand-up comedy (and even magic!) to create an atmosphere where connecting with others is as pleasant and seamless as a walk in the park.

In the process of building FestiHealth, the most exciting and gratifying aspect for the founding team and me was to see the community forming and crystallizing around the event. We gathered Thirty three incredible speakers for the main stage (including David Rhew, Microsoft’s Chief Medical Officer, and Tom Lee, Founding CEO of One Medical, ePocrates, and Galileo), twenty four top notch instructors for live wellness activities, twenty five compassionate doctors for the Medical-Panel Track, six super-fun entertainers for the Virtual Juice & Coffee Bar, and 39 prolific makers and providers of some of the most intriguing virtual care and wellness solutions to offer live demos and free trials for their leading products and services in our dynamic Virtual Expo Hall. A real health festival!

This past Wednesday 5/27, after just 4 weeks in the making and one week of word-of-mouth publicity, FestiHealth brought together more than 1,500 of the leading minds, top talent, and biggest hearts in health, wellness, technology, business, arts, entertainment, and media to celebrate the new era of Virtual Health. And the best thing about FestiHealth this week was to hear from the community that it was more than just valuable — it was also a lot of FUN! A bunch of new and long-time friends shared enthusiastically that they learned a lot, met great people, and tried new health and wellness solutions they had not seen before. Even more so, it was awesome to hear how much they enjoyed the overall experience. Another pleasant surprise was the number of messages from attendees after the event telling us that they came to check things out for a few minutes, and ended up staying for hours.

The best part of the feedback was to discover that we enabled a new type of online experience! We learned that couples and groups (like friends, families, and work colleagues) coordinated to meet one another at FestiHealth to experience together talks/music/yoga classes/comedy and magic! A new meme was born: “Meet Me @FestiHealth” to enjoy a unique health experience together, while simultaneously interacting with the members of the group, even when they were physically located on different continents!

Both participation and engagement in FestiHealth exceeded all expectations and the feedback we’ve received from attendees and presenters has been overwhelmingly positive, as well as enthusiastic about what’s to come. Most importantly, we’ve brought together a fabulous new community of wonderful people who are seeing these otherwise challenging times also as an opportunity for a better future for everyone. We all came together to create and enjoy the FestiHealth experience, while celebrating the new and exciting era of Virtual Health.

At this time of massive disruption in our lives and in how care is accessed and delivered, and with the huge white-space in health and wellness convening caused by the cancellations of virtually all physical healthcare conferences, our community and I are looking forward to seeing you in the next FestiHealth that’s coming up very soon! You can drop us a line here and we will update you personally about the exact details and date. See you @FestiHealth!

Written by

Inventor, investor, serial technology & healthcare entrepreneur, Stanford lecturer. Constant learning smiling and caring for others help me remain an optimist

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