22nd September 2014: Startup of the week: Vivametrica

For this 'Startup of the week' post, I caught up with Dr Richard Hu, Founder and CEO of Canadian startup, Vivametrica.

[Disclosure: I have no commercial ties with Vivametrica]


1. What is Vivametrica?
Vivametrica provides a first of its kind analytics platform for wearable healthcare. Our device agnostic platform delivers a standardized approach to data collection and management, bridging the gap between wearable fitness applications and actionable data for consumers, enterprises, healthcare and researchers. Created by physicians and researchers, Vivametrica’s approach is based on comprehensive clinical findings in the fields of physical activity, rehabilitation and medicine.

2. Could you explain the essence of Vivametrica, i.e it's core values?
Since the consumer is quite literally the engine producing wearables data, they own it, should benefit from it, and can decide who to share it with.

We standardize and analyze the data from wearable techs to create health solutions for consumers, enterprises, healthcare providers and insurance providers. 

Personalized information gathering, management and analysis can create meaningful actions that improve health and wellness.

3. What's the business model you're operating under?
Our consumer solution is free to anyone. In the future, we will introduce enterprise offerings on SaaS and DaaS models.

4. Is there anyone else doing the same as you?
We see significant opportunity to turn potentially competitive entities into partners, channels and clients.
•    Google, Apple and Samsung are making significant investments into developing platforms for wearables and healthcare
•    Device manufacturers are developing technology and/or business partnerships to address future market demand
•    Health solutions providers are searching for ways to deliver value and realize incremental gains from clients that are vertically aligned with Vivametrica’s values

5. Was there one moment which compelled you to begin the journey of working on Vivametrica?
The impetus to begin working on Vivametrica came from an accumulation of past experience with clinical care and research. However, the “aha moment” came when I started doing more in depth investigation of activity monitors on spinal diseases. That coupled with some recent health problems in my family acted as a trigger to convert the knowledge and relationships that I had accrued over many years into the development of Vivametrica.

6. What have reactions to Vivametrica been? Do different people perceive it differently?
It’s been quite astonishing to us just how many people ‘get it’ and do so almost instantly. Just four months ago, most of the buzz was still around devices – Today, the conversation has shifted almost entirely to what can be done with the data from wearables, and, specifically how wearables analytics can and will play a role in the future of healthcare.
Perception is definitely dependent upon the focus and past life experience of the viewer. Despite this wide variation, the core concepts remain easily understandable. Personal information gathering and management, personalized analysis and resulting meaningful personal actions are the foundation of what we do.

7. Given that Silicon Valley is the world's innovation hub, it's inspiring to see a Canadian startup pushing boundaries. Do you see more ground breaking innovations in Digital Health coming from outside Silicon Valley?
If you want to envision the future of digital health, the innovation may need to come from areas where the problems are big and solutions are poorly defined. Being closer to the users, the systems and the patients who have the highest need and most pressing problems gives problem solvers lots to think about.
There have been some recent Op-Ed pieces describing the evolution of Silicon Valley away from a startup center and becoming more of a financing center for technology innovation. Although this may be overstating what is going on, innovation in health services can occur anywhere and the financial and human resources may be more readily available outside of Silicon Valley.

8.    What are the weaknesses of Vivametrica and what are you doing to address them?
Though our team has been researching activity as related to human health for more than 12 years, we are a young organization, just removed from our initial seed funding. Our market opportunity is growing quickly and we need to scale, while remaining focused on our core objectives and technology. 

9. Two years from now, in 2016, what would success for Vivametrica look like? What are the barriers to success?
For Vivametrica we envision our platform to be a leading provider of health and wellness services not just related to wearable technology, but also in relation to all manner of data from biological sensors. Serious headway will be made in different markets, and we will be considered a credible and trusted source of health information analytics and services for health care providers, systems and related enterprises.
We think there will one million-plus devices connected to our platform, and enterprises will have begun to adopt and embrace wearables. Doctors will be further along in understanding how to apply wearables data in the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases. Health systems will be studying massive biometric data sets to tap into their inherent value for managing health and improving operating efficiencies. Insurance providers will have more tools to calculate risks and set actuarial tables. Researchers focused on the use of wearables will be greater in number and looking at detailed questions and use cases in a wide variety of disease categories. 

10.  If people feel inspired by your journey, and want to do something with technology to improve Global Health, what would your words of wisdom be?
The journey for me, and I am sure for many others always starts with the words “Why and What if?”

Whenever I am presented with a problem, either clinical, personal or professional, the first response is never “Why are you bothering me about this?” or “You can’t do that!” I always try to think about the reason a problem arises – The Why – and the possible solutions to that problem – The What if. The solution is almost never the first solution, but stems from forever asking yourself and others:

 “Am I solving the real problem? What if I did it this way, or that way? What if someone different than me has this problem? How would they solve it?” 

These huge, complex and difficult problems start to get more manageable when taken in small logical and doable steps. They become even more manageable when your team has the right attitude and the right skills to tackle these problems. If the right people are not part of your team now, go find them and invite them to join you on your journey. You will be surprised how many will take you up on the offer.

Vivametrica is on Twitter and click here for the Vivametrica website.