Product | People | Potential – our chat with Machine Medicine Technologies
Our interview with Gareth Morinan, Chief Scientific Officer at Machine Medicine Technologies, which has developed an AI platform for the objective measurement of disability from simple video clips.
Jazz @ADLIB: Can you please introduce yourself, what MMT does, what stage you are at currently and what makes your business unique?
Gareth Morinan: I’m Gareth Morinan, the Chief Scientific Officer at Machine Medicine Technologies, I have a background in statistical modelling, in both the public and private sector. At MMT we create software to help better understand the human condition. We appreciate the practicalities of how hardware fits into existing clinical workflows, and where new software will add the most value. We develop software to maximise the usefulness to clinicians of existing, widely available, hardware (like mobile phones or tablets).
The company raised Seed Round funding in 2019, the same year we signed our first major contract, we are now profitable and looking for Series A funding.
Jazz @ADLIB: Can you share the story behind the origin of MMT?
Gareth Morinan: Our Founder, Dr Jonathan O’Keeffe, has a background in both medicine and computational statistics. He recognised the problems facing clinicians and the scalable solutions that could be provided through the use of technology.
Our focus is to provide an objective measurement of physical disability via a software solution that can be easily deployed. Having everything run on a mobile device means our software is more likely to get used.
We started in Parkinson’s Disease, because that is the most prevalent movement disorder. Now, at the request of clients, we are starting to look at other conditions.
Jazz @ADLIB: Speaking of People, can you share some challenges you have faced, are facing or are anticipating around scaling and growing your team? Do you have any top tips you could share with those businesses faced with the same issues?
Gareth Morinan: The biggest challenge when recruiting in a small start-up, is dedicating the time to finding the right people. The reason to hire is because the team is too busy, however the people in the best position to make the hiring decision are often the busiest people in the company.
My top tips would be to not hire the first person who comes along who seems to satisfy your requirements and try to minimise the number of steps in the recruitment process. Also, use time saving tools, like online coding tests to filter technical candidates.
And when hiring for a new type of role, one that no one in your company has any experience in, get outside help to assess the candidates – it is difficult to judge a candidate’s ability if you have no experience doing that type of job.
Jazz @ADLIB: Moving to Product, what has been your approach to understanding and implementing market-fit?
Gareth Morinan: It is all about listening to the users, getting their feedback. For example, we have a limited partner-programme, where non-commercial research sites are able to use our software and provide feedback.
Jazz @ADLIB: And then Potential, can you share some challenges or barriers you had to overcome to create a Product with potential?
Gareth Morinan: There are huge barriers in health care, however, the advantage is that there are the same barriers for everyone else, so once you get over those barriers, they are a defence.
Last year we went through ISO 13485 Certification (Medical Device Quality Management System international standard) and this year we are going through ISO 27001 Certification (information security management standard). Those standards are the same for every company, so proportionally it is a larger burden for a small start-up compared to a large company.
Jazz @ADLIB: Investment can often be a challenge for start-ups & scale-ups. Do you have any piece of wisdom you could share around best approach?
Gareth Morinan: Generally, investors aren’t interested in a quick return, they want to hear a story that has layers; the problems solved now, the problems solved tomorrow, and the problems solved in 5 years time. Build for 5 years in the future and tell a compelling story. And the characters in that story are important, it is as much about selling the team as it is about the idea. It’s all about implementation and who is implementing it.