Why Boston? An Interview with American Well Co-Founder Dr. Ido Schoenberg

If you’ve heard of American Well, you know we are a Boston-based digital health company and a leader in the telehealth space. However, many may not realize that our American-born company was founded by two Israeli brothers who still maintain close ties with the Israeli innovation community.

Massachusetts has long been a draw for Israeli companies looking to expand operations in the U.S. and recently, there is even greater interest from Israeli-led healthcare and technology firms in moving to the state. As such we sat down with Dr. Ido Schoenberg, our co-founder and chairman, to find out more about what drew him and his brother to establish American Well’s headquarters in Boston.

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Q: In just a few words – why Boston as the corporate headquarters for American Well?

Ido: Boston is in many ways the healthcare capital of America. We have a lot of healthcare companies, fantastic hospitals and health systems, pharmaceutical companies, and amazing healthcare talent through the local universities. It’s a wonderful place for a healthcare technology company to build a business, find partners and recruit the best people.

Q: That’s a great summary from a business-making perspective. On a personal level – what about Boston made you want to live here?

Ido: I really like Boston. It reminds me in many ways of Europe, in that it’s understated and refined. People here are very accomplished, but are more modest about their accomplishments. As for lifestyle – it’s a great place to be. We have an amazing education system, for one. In terms of a U.S. location, we have family back in Israel and prefer to be closer to home. The West Coast is not an option in that respect. The weather could be better, though [laughs].

Q: American Well has been around for 10 years, and you’ve lived in Boston about 20 years. Looking back, how would you describe your original impression of Boston versus now?

Ido: I’m very happy we made the choice to set up shop in Boston. Over time, we’ve developed a lot of personal and professional relationships that have made us very successful. It’s the benefits of working in a cosmopolitan city combined with the feeling of knowing people – I go to restaurants where I know the chefs, I can walk into a local conference or event and recognize many faces. It’s a big impact town but it feels like a small town, too, which I like.

Q: That’s very true about Boston – all the perks of a city, without the anonymity. As a business leader, recruiting the right people must be top of mind for long-term growth and success. How do you see Boston as a great place for finding talent?

Ido: Absolutely, you want to establish your corporate headquarters in a location where you can recruit and retain the best people. Through the universities and healthcare organizations already established in Massachusetts, we have access to many talented, new and seasoned professionals. There is a domino effect that occurs when you are in close proximity to other star companies. As we see more, promising healthcare technology companies emerge in Massachusetts, we will become a more attractive place for employees to live and work. Leaders like American Well, athenahealth, Optum, Vertex, IBM, and now newcomers like General Electric, will help continue to position Boston as a great place to find work.

Q: Do you have any advice for other entrepreneurs looking to move or expand operations to Massachusetts?

Ido: If you’re a serious company looking to succeed in healthcare or technology, and you want access to the best talent, strategic partners, and the support of an innovation-friendly local government, then Boston can’t be beat.

 

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