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We caught up with Victoria Norman, CEO & Founder at Signum Health, who provide Virtual health care services, powered by their own digital interface.
The purpose of article series ‘Product | People | Potential’ is to feature and showcase the very best UK start-ups with great potential, truly inspiring businesses that are shaking up their sector. We capture and share the stories behind the name. We collate authentic peer to peer real-talk, while celebrating the growth and success thus far and gather a glimpse of what’s ahead.
Victoria Norman: I’m Victoria Norman, the Founder and CEO of Signum Health. We are a digital health tech company that designs, develops and deploys digital tools for the healthcare market. We use innovative technology to build applications that enable, modernise and make efficient existing workflows that historically would not be able to scale or change within our healthcare setting. Our digital applications provide care organisations with their own building blocks to be able to implement a virtual health care service.
Our portfolio of tools includes the more clinical aspects of health, such as remote diagnosis, telemedicine and at-home monitoring. But then we have the other aspects of digital health, where we look at the emotional aspects of wellbeing and mental health, which is very apt at the moment during Covid. We are right at the heart of this pandemic, helping organisations to get people off waiting lists, triaging quickly, and providing people in the community with support around their isolation and mental health.
Victoria Norman: I am a single founder, which has been quite lonely, but I can now refer to ‘we’, as I have a team that is as passionate about the company’s mission as I am. I worked in the NHS for over 18 years, focusing more on the preventative side of things, so downstream healthcare, implementing health promotion programmes to change our lifestyle behaviours such as diet and exercise which impact on chronic conditions, like diabetes. I found that there was such a disconnect between Primary Care (GP’s and Nurses) and the community and what services the community could offer. Once you map community provision, around your GP practice, you could in some areas have over 2000 services that would support an individual – the key part for me was about integration. I am not a developer, I don’t code, but I know what technology can do, so I started working with a range of universities and providers to map out how that system would work so that a GP could, directly from a patient record, easily find an appropriate service for that patient, refer them, engage the service rather than leaving it down to the person to make contact, and then track the outcome of the intervention.
We formerly incorporated the company in May 2016, although I had probably been working for 10 years before that on this idea. Since 2016, we have completed 4 rounds of investment, Development Bank of Wales being one of our lead investors. We are excited to be moving to a subscription model – which is relatively new in health care, but it is now a primed market.
Victoria Norman: We are still a small team, but we are now in the growth stage. My biggest advice in terms of building a team is that when I interviewed and recruited, I based it on experience and years of experience they could bring to the table. However, as a young company, the person must “fit” – which is the biggest thing; this in my view surpasses experience, or skills and ability. As a founder, you want someone to come on a journey with you, so they must have the passion and belief in the product. We are now focusing on building a team with a mix of individuals, that bring a mix of skills, a mix of passion and a mix of experience.
Victoria Norman: I am lucky that I came from the sector where our products are being delivered, so I have a good understanding, but it is literally about building from the ground up, developing your networks, reading and really keeping yourself informed – particularly in the NHS, where there are lots of policy changes. Understand your “customer” from a “buyers” point of view right down to the individual user. Analyse the “hooks” and work out where your products fit. Put your customer right at the heart of any decisions. We were able to implement our product in one health board in Wales, then within 8 months we had rolled it out across the whole of Wales, it was a really quick turn around because we listened to what they needed and were able to react quickly.
Victoria Norman: For us, the challenge is cash flow, you have to have enough capital at the beginning to be able to build, develop and deliver. Investors need to know that it could be a long development journey, small investment rounds really do stunt growth and slow the route to market. Additionally, a barrier is that contract negotiations in healthcare take time, contracts can take 12-18 months, and tender processes are not regular (2-3 years cycles). Hence we looked at the private market, as an alternate revenue stream, which tends to be quite fast in adopting new ideas and new technology.
Victoria Norman: I would say be confident in what you are offering and Go Big! We have had smaller “drip fed” funding rounds, which slowed us down. So really plan the “costs” out, plan what you will need to invest in not just now but in the future, from development right through to marketing, don’t underestimate, and break it down so the investors know what they are investing in and at what phase.