It takes courage, steadfastness, perseverance, and often a degree of bloody-mindedness to create a business and make it work. It’s one of the many reasons why individuals who found and lead successful companies are lauded throughout the business world and beyond. Then you have your serial founders: entrepreneurs who time and again can build something from nothing but an idea. But where do these ideas come from?
The inspiration for starting a company can come from many places. For some, it’s simply spotting a gap in the market and having a combination of the foresight and fortitude to capitalise on it. Others will develop the concept for their company after spending their early careers working in and getting to know the opportunities within a specific sector. And for some, the basis of their business is as much personal as it is professional. This was the case for Rav Roberts, whose journey began 17 years ago with a medical diagnosis that would influence the course of the rest of his life.
A chance discovery
Rav Roberts’ background is in tech, having started his career as a database analyst and coder with an investment company before moving to San Francisco for six years, where he worked in technology consulting before starting a Dot.Com. It was during this time as Rav was in his 30s that everything changed, with chance playing no small part. His employers at the time happened to be conducting voluntary diabetes blood tests, which Rav opted in for on a ‘why not?’ basis. When the results came back, Rav was stunned to discover he had diabetes, a condition that affects around 3.3 million people in the UK alone. It is estimated up to a further one million people have type 2 diabetes but are unaware – just like Rav prior to his diagnosis.
Not knowing much about the condition, like many others, Rav was unable to prevent himself from developing debilitating linked conditions and comorbidities like high cholesterol and eye disease. As is typical for someone in his position, he only searched for help on these new conditions after he was diagnosed with them.
Although he was resolved to better manage his wellbeing, Rav discovered that finding trustworthy and up-to-date information was difficult and time-consuming. And yet the more he read about his conditions, the more he realised they could have been avoided if he had known more about their risks, causes and what steps could have been taken to prevent them.
The penny drops
Diabetes was the disease he was personally familiar with, but as his research expanded to other conditions, Rav soon realised he had only been scratching the surface. While long-term conditions are unsurprisingly more common in older people, over 15 million people in England alone currently live with one. The magnitude of the impact on health and social care is shocking: chronic conditions account for around 50% of all GP appointments, with treatment and care estimated to take up around £7 in every £10 of total health and social care expenditure.
Rav shared his experiences and discoveries with two good friends from his time at business school in London. One of them, Nasir, had been working at the UK’s medicines regulator the MHRA and at several leading pharma companies. The other, Paolo, had amassed over 25 years of experience in technology roles for companies like Samsung and Broadcom.
Through their joint discussions, the seeds of a technical solution to this ever-increasing global problem were planted.
Nasir’s insight from a career in healthcare provided the initial spark that something could be done to improve the situation. Together with Paolo’s technical knowledge and Rav’s experience shaping the product, 18 months later they launched their solution.
The team’s solution comes in the form of Medsii.com, a digital health-tech startup providing personalised, timely and trustworthy health news and information to help people with chronic illnesses or those taking regular medicines. The platform uses AI to tailor users’ news feeds in an easy-to-follow, engaging experience, allowing users to follow developments in medical treatment. Ultimately, the co-founders envision it as a way to enable people to take proactive steps to manage their condition more effectively – and avoid developing further conditions as Rav did.
Launching in the tail end of 2020 as the Covid-19 pandemic was reaching its second wave, it was as though the stage had been set for the platform’s introduction. In the face of vaccine scepticism, conspiracy theories gaining traction and conflicting reports of varying authenticity, the need for timely, reliable health information was never more apparent.
Since its launch, his company has already won a number of awards, while Rav and his team have built out their Android, Apple and Web apps, their backed database, APIs and AI. Crucially, they’ve built relationships with health professionals in the UK, USA and Europe, who are providing them with the credibility to begin scaling in those markets and has recently landed its first large corporate advertiser – the NHS. More importantly, Medsii has already begun helping people across the world to stay informed about – and proactively manage – their conditions by providing them with vital, timely information and developments in treatment.
And coming soon through its Creators model, Medsii will provide healthcare practitioners with the opportunity to both generate income and put their knowledge and experience to further good use, by producing engaging content for the platform’s growing user base. As Rav simply puts it: “I’m just grateful I’ve been able to turn my negative personal experience into a positive one and help people who find themselves in a similar position to me avoid the same pitfalls I encountered.”