Innovation and creativity in technology are hallmarks of modern entrepreneurship. While companies continue to innovate in a variety of sectors, healthcare technology faces more complicated hurdles.
Companies hoping to improve healthcare through new software innovations often hit a wall when it comes to privacy and security protocols. This can stunt important progress and growth. MedStack aims to solve this problem by delivering a base data model that has compliance built in: developers can use this shell and a flexible cloud hosting environment to build and bring new healthcare apps to market.
We chatted with Balaji Gopalan, CEO of MedStack, about his inspiration, advice for entrepreneurs in his space, and future plans for the company.
What was the inspiration for your company?
Before MedStack, I had spent 10 years building platform businesses across various industries. Similarly, my co-founder Simon Woodside (CTO) was building healthcare apps for over a decade while leading his agency.
Through his work, Simon noticed that healthcare apps take a lot of time and money to build, beyond the work on the app itself. One particular client spent 10% of their capital on building privacy and security compliance.
Both Simon and I came to the conclusion that this is the reason why innovation moves slowly in healthcare. Drawing from our platform building and app development experience, we decided to join forces to solve problems surrounding compliance in healthcare technology.
What do you find the most rewarding about being an entrepreneur? What do you find the most challenging?
I love the fact that our success is built, right to “raw metal”, on our customers’ successes. It’s both the best and most scary thing. We drive our customers to market so they can make a positive impact on people’s lives in healthcare, the world’s most important challenge. We have to support their plans and ensure they succeed, all while dealing with slim resources and all the “keep the lights on” activities of a startup.
How has entrepreneurship defied or lived up to your expectations?
I didn’t expect there to be so much “spam”! But seriously, it’s the expectations, opinions, and judgments of those around you, more than I could have expected. I love the challenge, and taking ownership and inspiring those around you with your own idea, reflecting on mentors and leaders you’ve had in the past. But there is so much to learn, far more than I could have anticipated.
How did you become involved with Innovation Factory?
We have a longstanding relationship with Hamilton’s innovation community, as Simon has been leading Hacking Health and Engineers Without Borders in the region. Hamilton’s particular strength in healthcare innovation has been instrumental in driving our business, and we have curated the idea behind MedStack with iF’s mentorship and events.
What have you valued most about Innovation Factory’s services/support?
Strong support for digital healthcare; relationships, opportunities, and introductions with the local healthcare industry; and the promotion of our business to other healthcare innovators.
How do you measure success?
We measure our success purely by the success of our customers – the number of apps, and how fast they are implemented with a healthcare enterprise. More intangibly, I am constantly seeking indications that we are making a positive impact on our innovation community, based on the examples we set and what the community says about us and our contribution.
What differentiates you from your competition?
What is the best recognition you have received?
Getting accepted into the Dreamit program, Creative Descruction Lab, and 500 Startups. Winning the Highline BETA award at this year’s inaugural ResolveTO event in Toronto.
What are your plans for the next year and beyond?
We are moving into selling to healthcare enterprises and building a two-sided marketplace for healthcare innovation.
What support will you look to Innovation Factory for in the coming months?
We look forward to developing a deeper relationship with iF to onboard digital health applications to MedStack via exclusive incentives for Innovation Factory companies, supporting innovation initiatives at HHS and St. Joseph’s.
Do you have any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs who may just have an idea?
I have been teaching Product Management at Brainstation for a couple years and have seen many great ideas grow. I do it because I am motivated to inspire and help entrepreneur build great things. To my students and any entrepreneur, I tell them this:
“Be both confident and humble. Don’t hide it, talk about it to anyone and everyone and gather as much feedback as you can. Focus on the problem, never push your solution until you have the problem well articulated, you’ve played it back and your customers have agreed. Partner with them, involve them in the creation. If you have an idea, put it aside and focus on the person, the business, the problem and prioritize ruthlessly.”
How can we connect with you?