Casual portrait of Steven Collens, co-founder of startup MATTER, standing against chalkboard with furniture

A start for startups

WashU alum Steven Collens is co-founder and CEO of MATTER, a healthcare startup in Chicago.

Collens started his first business while working for a large healthcare company. He partnered with a professional dancer and chiropractor to provide healthcare coordination for dancers. According to Collens, they did everything wrong that a startup can: The business failed three years later.

But Collens would soon get a chance to put the lessons of that failure to work. In 2011, as senior vice president of ­a private investment firm, he was tasked with establishing a ­co-working space to help create a more connected tech community in their city base of Chicago.

Collens found that although the process was messy and the hours long, launching a startup suited him. In 2012, the co-working space, called 1871, opened its doors and young companies vied to be in the new startup incubator from the get-go.

Soon after, Collens met a pair of entrepreneurs, Andrew Cittadine and David Schonthal, who were convinced of Chicago’s potential as a hub for healthcare innovation. But no forum existed for the city’s institutional healthcare providers and product innovators to come together. Together, they founded MATTER to connect large healthcare institutions with member companies to guide innovation and make sure products in development were meeting a real need.

Since opening in 2015, MATTER member companies have employed 2,200 people and developed healthcare products used by 76 million patients.

The lessons he gained from his previous experiences, both good and bad, helped Collens navigate MATTER into the success it is now. He found reward in building something from the ground up, messes and all. Collens has no plans to leave MATTER and launch another startup any time soon — but that could always change.

Read more in the Source.