Far from replacing humans, Artificial Intelligence is actually coming to the aid of a very old profession that has fallen out of fashion to such an extent that people are increasingly not joining it. I speak of the rarified world of the Actuary.
Medloop, which allows patients to manage healthcare needs and providers, has secured €6 million from Kamet Ventures and AXA.
The cash will be used to enhance its product offering and continue expansion across Germany and the U.K. Medloop is also developing an evidence-based medical rule engine embedded on the Electronic Medical Record (EMR) of patients.
Medloop offers patients what it calls “intuitive” self-service features in an app that enables them to navigate their own healthcare, including online appointment bookings, electronic medical results and prescription refills, as well as chatting in-app with healthcare providers.
Founded in 2018 by Berlin-based entrepreneur Shishir Singhee, some medical practices in Germany use the Medloop doctor system to run their entire practice, using it to give an overview of their patient population.
Singhee, said: “Healthcare today has become increasingly impersonalized as ever-growing patient registers have made it challenging for doctors to treat patients in a bespoke way. Medloop strives to bridge this critical gap, by employing technology to empower patients and help doctors deliver proactive and holistic care.“
Stephane Guinet, CEO of Kamet Ventures, said: “It is no secret how overstretched doctors are in terms of the time and care they can offer each patient. Medloop’s offering is a novel solution to this challenge and we are very excited to be part of Medloop’s growth story given how critical its offering is to the U.K. market and beyond.”
Medloop achieved compatibility with EMIS last summer, enabling its entry into the U.K. market.
In Germany, its main competitors are the incumbents that were built in the early 1990s, such as Medatix and Medistar. In the U.K. it is up against patient management tools such as QMasters.
The best UX is no UX. The best code is no code. Pretty much everything I, and probably you, have worked on would be better if it wasn’t there.
Ok, so I’m being a touch facetious. That’s not quite what I mean. I’m not saying there is no value in products or the work that we do. Just that they are a means rather than an end.
Nobody wants to buy a product. Nobody wants to use software.
What they want is to achieve a goal. That might be a social goal – connecting with friends, improving self-esteem. Or a functional goal – getting food to eat, paying an invoice. It could be anything in between. But at its core, it’s about solving a real problem someone has. Getting paid on time, finding love, improving your home; the needs have existed long before technology or products existed even as concepts.
Don’t create the wrong thing
There is a big difference between the things people will buy and the things that they need. There is also a big difference in the mindset of companies that are creating products in either of those categories.
Nobody needs a fridge that can browse the internet, a lightbulb that can change colour via an app, or a coffee machine that makes you coffee through the internet. These are all things that someone in an office somewhere decided that people love, so they should add. It’s evident in the proliferation of touch screens on an increasingly random selection of devices. Even when in some cases, especially cars, it reduces usability to the point of being dangerous.
How to create the right thing – the ideal state
“By looking at [problems] in a solution-neutral way, teams can consider the ideal state—a hypothetical, imaginary and perfect experience that is free of constraints, compromises and contradictions.”
– Clayton Christensen (Harvard Business Review)
The point of all this is that whatever you are making, it serves only as a solution to a specific problem set and no more. Customers don’t care about your product, they just want you to get things done for them and get out of their way.
Using this as a lense, we can create far superior products, saving time and money. Focus on framing the problem a long time before you even start considering solutions.
Ideal state, backwards
Without any constraints on time, budget, people or technology what is the ideal state for a customer? Assuming you can’t achieve that, work backwards until you can. In most cases, you will have to work backwards a few steps until a product or technology even come into it. If then, and only then, you need to build something, get stuck in.
How can we do this with no code, no interface?
Always be asking how you can reduce your product to it’s simplest possible form.
The best interface is no interface
If your product is an app, the ideal interaction is for the user’s problem to be solved instantly, without any interaction. Nobody wants to record the calories they consume in a day. They want to be healthier, fitter or thinner. Interacting with an interface, in this case, is necessary now. But if you could do it from a photo, that’s better. If you could do it just from sensing what you have eaten with no interaction, that’s your ideal state. 99% of the time this isn’t possible, but if you frame the problem this way you will focus on building less.
The best code is no code
Software takes time to build, takes time to change and takes time to improve. It introduces risks of bugs, security breaches and maintenance costs. Every new feature introduces a maintenance cost, risks and customer support needs. Every decision to build something should not be taken lightly. You are inadvertently taking on a cost burden that you may not fully appreciate. The less you have to maintain the more you can focus on your real reason for existing. It’s certainly not for software.
Focus on outcomes
“We need to hire 10 developers in the next four months”
“That’s $2-3 million dollars a year…”
“Yup. Things are crazy!”
“Could you walk me through your last ten product decisions…how did they contribute to mid/long term sustainable growth?”
It’s unbelievable how so many people are happy to throw vast sums of money at rushing towards a hastily constructed roadmap. All without really knowing whether this will produce the needed outcome. Tell these people you need to spend more time planning or researching, you will likely be met with a blank stare. This is the reality of countless companies of all sizes.
The good news is you have an advantage, staying laser focussed allows you to stay nimble, keep the team smaller for longer and build something your customers love. Taking this approach is not the easiest path in the short term, you will have to resist strong forces to just get ahead and start building.
You have scarce resources, scarce time and scarce money. Focus on building only what is necessary. The rest is the road to nowhere.
The entrepreneur of popular mythology is a buccaneering character – ambitious, independent, just a little arrogant and brimming with disruptive ideas. And if you want to dig a little deeper into the stereotype, you might also note that entrepreneurs tend to see themselves as leaders rather than team players. Indeed, entrepreneurs are notoriously reluctant to delegate or trust others – something that often becomes increasingly obvious as a business begins to scale up. Senior people are hired, but they find the founder is reluctant to allow them space.
It’s a very characterisation, of course, but it does contain a large element of truth. You could put it more simply and say that founders start businesses because they want to do things in their own way, without too much input from others.
The corporate world, on the other hand, seems to operate in a different universe. CEOs arguably enjoy something of the same cult status as startup founders, but they are constrained not only by the expectations of investors but also by governance arrangements and long-standing practices and procedures. A CEO may consider himself or herself to entrepreneurial and encourage members of staff to adopt the same mindset, but the truth is large businesses can find it hard to innovate. And when they do, it tends to be a slow process.
A Middle Way?
So is there a middle way? Is there a space in which would-be founders can develop ideas and business plans in the company of industry experts who can guide them through the process of bringing products to market? A space where the entrepreneur doesn’t have to make all the decisions alone?
This takes us into the realm of startup factories or studios. As distinct from conventional incubators or accelerators, these are places where the managers assemble teams of people deemed to have entrepreneurial skills and help them to build businesses from something close to the bottom up. Often the concepts are created within the “studio” itself, rather than being brought in by the entrepreneurs.
Kamet Ventures is one such Startup Studio. Focused on developing technology products and platforms for the insurance and healthcare sectors, the venture was founded by former Axa executives, Stephane Guinet and Nicolas Bosc and Boston Consulting alumnus, Michael Niddam.
On the face of it, Kamet has its roots very firmly in the corporate world. Indeed, standing just off stage, insurance giant Axa has provided 100 million euro to fund the businesses that are developed within Kamet and has an option to invest again if and when Series A and B finance is required.
However, when I spoke to Guinet and Niddam, they stressed that once ventures are ready, they can seek alternative funding from VCs and other third parties if that is more appropriate. In other words, the aim is to create businesses that have the potential to scale up and address problems across the insurtech marketplace, rather than necessarily developing solutions for Axa.
So how does it work? In the first instance, entrepreneurs are selected by the Kamet team. “They are assessed on their abilities,” says Guinet. “Most are seasoned entrepreneurs.”
That doesn’t necessarily mean seasoned founders. Those who come on board might have worked for startup companies as developers or marketing people and may not have a track record of launching businesses themselves. And as Guinet adds, some come with ideas, others will work on concepts developed by Kamet, based on its knowledge of the requirements of the insurance and healthcare markets. However, he stresses that is not a case of signing up people with relevant skills and telling them what do to.
“We offer ideas. But they are free to come up with their own.”
But Kamet has its own way of doing things. All ideas will be tested and many will be dropped in favour of others. So in that respect, Kamet’s entrepreneurs have to be comfortable with a collaborative approach and – equally important – they may have to accept that the idea they started with may not be the one that they ultimately take to the market.
So will Kamet’s entrepreneurs really buy into something that they themselves haven’t conceived? Michael Niddam says this hasn’t been a problem. “Ideas are maybe just 1.0% of the entrepreneurial process,” he says, adding that after several months people tend to forget who came up with the original concept. “They tend to become the ideas. They appropriate the ideas.””
But there is another question. Why don’t Kamet’s founders simply start their own businesses?
There are perhaps a number of reasons. The Kamet management team’s close links with (and knowledge of) the insurance sector provide a base from which to develop customer-centric products addressing real industry needs. .
Samuel Falmagne, co-founder and CEO of Akur8 – a company that applies machine learning to actuarial decision making – says he had to assess the Kamet model before coming on board. The studio’s connections with the insurance industry was an important factor. “Kamet’s industry knowledge is very strong,” he says. “And the association with Axa allowed us access to claims data.”
And – let’s be honest – there is less risk. Kamet pays a small salary to its entrepreneurs until the businesses hit a certain point in the development cycle. This will be appealing to those who want to start and run a company without necessarily having to support themselves through the early days when no revenues are coming in.
To date, has invested in 23 businesses. Once certain milestones have been reached, the newly formed ventures go out into the world and rent their own offices. Once fledged, they may also seek funding from third parties or develop a closer commercial and financial relationship with Axa. There can be a mix of investors. For instance, one portfolio venture, Ibex Medical Analytics, has just raised $11 million to support its cancer diagnostics solution. The funding came from aMoon Ventures, Kamet, Dell Technologies and 83 North.
Akur8 is also raising Series A at the moment. In its case, a decision was made to focus on third party investment to emphasise the independence of the model.
That said, In addition to the 100 million euro in Kamet provided to fund the Kamet model, Axa has invested almost as much again in Series A and B.
The Kamet model won’t be for everyone. Many individuals set off on the road to entrepreneurship because they are passionate about a particular concept or idea. They value independence are prepared to make – and learn from – their own mistakes. But that is a romantic vision. In reality, few entrepreneurs are truly independent once investors come on board. And, of course, making mistakes can be fatal.
Kamet’s approach aims to produce genuine entrepreneurs, albeit through a carefully managed process. For those selected to take part, it’s a model that offers an arguably lower-risk introduction to entrepreneurship, along with links to the insurance and healthcare industries.