Data and the Human Experience — Full Transcript
What it means to be at the exciting intersection of tech and humanity
Will our thoughts and actions someday seamlessly integrate with data? Anish Sebastian and Juan Pablo Segura, Co-Founders of Babyscripts, discuss a future where every aspect of the human experience is being embedded into tech and how it will affect our health. They also share their experience pivoting their company to focus solely on pregnancies.
Key takeaways from this episode of StartUp Health NOW can be found here.
Unity Stoakes: [0:05] Welcome to StartUp Health NOW, the weekly Web show that celebrates the healthcare transformers and change‑makers reimagining health care. My name’s Unity Stoakes, and we’ve got a great show today. We’re actually shooting from Health Datapalooza here in Washington, DC.
[0:21] I’ve got the honor to be with two amazing healthcare transformers here from Babyscripts. We’ve got Anish Sebastian and Juan Pablo Segura. Great to have you here. It’s going to be a great show. Stick around.
Unity: [1:12] Welcome, guys. It’s great to have you here. It’s great to be connecting here at Health Datapalooza and it’s always good to see you guys. Just to kick things off, just to share with the audience, could you just share a little bit about your vision your mission for Babyscripts, what you’re trying to accomplish?
Juan Pablo Segura: [1:30] First of all, thanks for having us, Unity. I’m super excited to share what we’re doing at Babyscripts. At the end of the day with Babyscripts, our real hope is better pregnancies. That’s what really drives us on a day‑to‑day basis.
[1:46] What’s really exciting is that patients, providers, just the health system in general, has a lot more tools available and at its disposal, to really move the needle in areas like prenatal care. We’ll talk a little bit more about our technology in a bit.
[2:06] Now that you’re surrounded with things like the Internet of Things and smartphone ubiquity, what can you do to really change outcomes, to rethink the way not just doctors, but patients approach their care. At the end of the day, we want to improve that, so that really is why we say “better pregnancies.”
Unity: [2:25] Just to back up and frame who you guys are, it came out of consulting and finance, and now you’re entrepreneurs. Maybe share a little bit about yourself and the arc to how you got to making this decision to become an entrepreneur.
Anish Sebastian: [2:44] Sure. First of all, Unity, thanks again for having us and welcome home. This is our home base here in DC.
Unity: [2:49] Thank you.
Anish: [2:50] You’re right. I did a lot of consulting at Deloitte, which is a large consulting company.
Unity: [2:56] That’s where you guys met, right?
Anish: [2:57] Yeah that’s where we met. Pablo was…
Juan Pablo: [2:58] Yeah, back in the consulting days…
Anish: [3:01] Interestingly enough, I was his supervisor when we first met.
Juan Pablo: [3:05] That’s why I made sure to get the boss to be the partner. Can’t get bad reviews from that.
Anish: [3:10] I’m still his supervisor. Let’s not get that wrong. No, I’m just kidding.
[3:16] My formative job was I’d just go to a C‑suite, whisper in their ear what to do, what not to do, primarily when it came to IT risk. On the side, one thing that I got very interested in was the whole quantified self movement. In fact, I’m one of the organizers of the QS movement here in DC and a self‑proclaimed data nerd. That’s really what I am.
[3:40] I was very fascinated with all this data that’s being collected out there. The question that I always posed was, “What is the real clinical relevance in all this data?” Fundamentally, when we jumped ship, that was a question we started to probe, which is, “What is the real value of all this health data? How can you aggregate it together and find value in it?”
[4:01] That’s what started the company. I know, Pablo, you have a slightly different angle as to what your core calling was. But we both knew that we were going to start it. Why don’t you share your background?
Juan Pablo: [4:12] From my perspective, I come from a family of entrepreneurs, so I’ve always had the entrepreneurial blood in me. Also, us being millennials, we’re never satisfied having to respond or having to, at least on my end, to a boss in any way. Everyone wants to be their own boss.
Unity: [4:32] You take yoga five times a day.
Juan Pablo: [4:33] Exactly, yeah. I like to think about.
Anish: [4:37] Skinny jeans.
Unity: [4:38] Skinny jeans.
Juan Pablo: [4:39] Existentialist at heart. From our perspective, working at Deloitte, it’s a great place. Consulting was a great job, but never really allowed you to make a difference, at least in a tangible way, in your job. I think that was the big thing I came to grips with and I realized, “Hey, maybe this isn’t what I’m supposed to do.”
[5:00] When we both uncovered the opportunity…
Unity: [5:02] Was there an aha moment that you had, both of you, that, “Hey, I’ve got to…I’m meant to be an entrepreneur. I’ve got a bigger vision for my path.”
Juan Pablo: [5:14] The fact that I can never tied my work to specifically helping one person or furthering a specific goal. It was always just another cog in the big machine of the client, was not very satisfying. Everyone’s different, but it came a moment, and I think a lot of it was tied to the beauty of the healthcare industry, in general.
[5:39] You look at health care, if you’re improving it, you’re not just helping people make more money or be more efficient, but at the end of the day, you can always connect what you’re doing to improving someone’s life. That was really what motivated us to get into this space in the first place. You can start talking about all the opportunities, data and devices. That innovation, it’s touchable. It’s possible.
[6:08] Start‑up health’s always great about discovering this new age, this golden age of entrepreneurship and healthcare IT. It is people like ourselves, who didn’t necessarily have a healthcare background, but had a mission. This is a place that anyone can make an impact, if you’ve got the willpower and the resilience to stick it out. We’ve been through that a lot.
Unity: [6:28] I think one of the cool things is talent coming into this sector from outside of health care, really thinking about what needs to change in a different way, and thinking about the solutions in a completely different way. Do you feel like you both coming from outside actually helped you as you got started?
Juan Pablo: [6:52] 100 percent. I’ll let you take that one.
Anish: [6:53] I remember going to my first conferences. About 90 percent of what people were saying was just totally over my head. They were using a vocabulary that was very foreign to me.
Juan Pablo: [7:06] Do you remember we were looking at each other, trying to figure out what a payer and a provider were, because we only knew what a health insurance company was?
Anish: [7:12] Right.
Juan Pablo: [7:14] That’s a little embarrassing.
Anish: [7:16] The first two to three months was a total crash course. With that, we also questioned, “Well, why is it this way? Why are the incentives not aligned? What are the mechanisms?” Sometimes, that out‑of‑the‑box thinking can be great, but sometimes you also need to know the system.
[7:37] The first thing we did was, “Let’s find all the advisers that know a lot about health care, and then have lunch with them, have constantly.” There were a lot of lunches, a lot of coffees, but it was a crash course. We got that knowledge but, at the same time, we were also questioning the entire time. It’s like, “Well, what if we did this? What if we did that?”
Unity: [7:53] “Does it have to work that way?”
Anish: [7:55] That’s right, “Why is it so screwed up?” No, I’m just kidding. It’s like, “Why is it this way?” the why question. Coming from outside, we constantly asked that question, which I think was fruitful for us. Ultimately, when we found what worked, it was because of that constant why. That’s something that definitely worked for us, definitely.
Juan Pablo: [8:14] The only thing I would add to that is, for a while, you might be the crazy young guys with bow ties, running around, declaring that things need to be different.
Unity: [8:23] But on brand, though.
Juan Pablo: [8:24] Yeah, this is the Babyscripts bow tie. What ends up happening is there’s that moment, and I think it happens in most startup’s lives. All of a sudden, there is a doctor at a health system who’s like, “You’re not crazy, and what you’re talking about actually makes a lot of sense, and we can do that here.”
[8:45] I think that’s been our story, where we were screaming at the ramparts saying, “Hey, we can do this differently. We can do this differently,” and someone said yes. All of a sudden, it’s not just one person, but it’s two, it’s four, and then there is this mass effect that develops. All of a sudden, you’re looking at scaling your company. That’s what’s started to happen with us.
Unity: [9:08] What are the biggest things that surprised you from making the switch, to being outside of the entrepreneurial sphere, and then going head‑first into this deep dive you talk about for the first few months, and really walking the walk and living your lives as entrepreneurs, and building your company?
[9:32] What surprised you?
Juan Pablo: [9:35] The thing that I was surprised at the most was, even at the highest levels of a healthcare system, of a payer/provider, people had no idea what to do. I remember, to this day, we were down in North Carolina and talking to the CEO of a hospital. I went in assuming that he knew all the answers, he had all the solutions figured out.
[10:01] Even though he was the CEO of the hospital, he was just as lost as everyone else. If he’s lost, I’ve got a shot. That’s what I’m thinking. I’m like, “What if I did this? What if I did this?” Then the level of uncertainty in this industry right now, given the change that’s going on, is striking. Everyone’s…
Anish: [10:18] It’s creating this massive window of opportunity.
Juan Pablo: [10:20] That’s right. The more uncertainty there is, the more window there is for opportunity. I know Steve calls this the golden age of healthcare entrepreneurship. That’s a great marketing line. At the same time, it’s really true.
Anish: [10:35] It’s true.
Juan Pablo: [10:36] They’re all trying to figure this out. The hottest thing in health care right now is mobile digital. That’s a done deal now. It’s not questionable any more. Once we figured that out, it’s like, “Well, we can actually take some of our initial successes and attach a level of expertise in this”, then they’re listening to us and they’re giving us a phone call.
[10:57] Seeing that transformation, wasn’t that just impressive?
Juan Pablo: [11:00] It is cool when someone in the industry, has been in the industry for 40 years, comes to you and says, “Can you teach me about this whole area?”
[11:09] You’re like, “Wait a second. You’re…”
Anish: [11:11] “I came here to learn from you.”
Juan Pablo: [11:15] That’s right. On the flip‑side of what Anish is talking about, which is this void that needs to be filled in the space, one of the most surprising things for me was, as an outsider looking into the world of entrepreneurship, you admire companies like Facebook or some other West Coast, Silicon Valley companies that don’t have corporate structure or do things on the fly and are able to build incredible things.
[11:42] When you come into the entrepreneurial circle you realize that they’re not doing everything…there aren’t loose ends. There’s structure that needs to be built. There’s a reason why at your consulting job you were doing year‑end reviews. You have a sales pipeline. You have HR because all of these little things matter.
[12:05] Structure, discipline, having a plan, you can’t just do thing one off. You actually have to spend time building everything out so that you can scale. I think those are the things that you don’t really appreciate when you’re first starting, or at least when you’re outside. When you’re inside you’re like, “Holy cow, if I don’t organize myself I’m in big trouble.”
Unity: [12:26] A couple of lessons learned. What wisdom would you pass up to fellow entrepreneurs or other entrepreneurs just getting started. Or, maybe other people who are sitting at Deloitte thinking, “Wow, I want to take this leap. I want to be an entrepreneur.” What would you say to them?
Juan Pablo: [12:43] I’ll take the first stab at that. I think the one thing that keeps coming back, and it resounds to be true to this day, from the second I left Deloitte to what we’re doing now in trying to grow our company is that you have to invest in A players.
[12:59] When you try to build your team, because there comes a moment in growing your company when the founders can’t do everything themselves and you need to start bringing on employees, other partners, you can never settle. I think a lot of companies fail because they try to get something done quickly. They don’t think about how hard it is to actually succeed.
[13:22] If you have good people, whether it’s a technology team, whether it’s a sales force. People that you can trust. People that can produce results. There’s the old mantra that A players hire A players. B players hire C players. Organizationally, if you’re not focusing on your people, then you’re not going to succeed, I guarantee you, 100 percent of the time.
[13:44] That’s something that you have to really bite the bullet and spend more time. If someone’s not working you need to just get rid of them and go to the next man. I don’t mean to sound ruthless but you only get one shot at this. You’ve got to do it right the first time.
Anish: [13:59] I totally agree with what you’re saying. The other thing that I would add is don’t ever let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
Unity: [14:09] Ship early and often?
Anish: [14:10] Ship early and often because no matter how awesome you think your app is, it’s probably not as good as you think it is. Let the market and the users decide what’s good and what’s bad. Just keep putting it out there. Let it get beat up. Let it get torn up. Learn from it, which is very much in the iterate quickly.
[14:32] That’s true about every facet of business model. Try it. Does it fail? Does it work? Keep moving.
Unity: [14:39] I think you guys did a really good job at transitioning your own business. You started as 1EQ. You’re now focusing on Babyscripts and have pivoted to that focus. Talk about that transition and why you did it and what the benefits have been so far.
Juan Pablo: [15:02] You should mention the realization we had after the showcase in San Francisco a year ago. For those that don’t know the corporate structure of Babyscripts, what it was back a year and a half, two years ago and what it is now, we used to be a consumer…
Anish: [15:22] Data aggregation.
Juan Pablo: [15:23] Yeah, data aggregation play. We realized that we weren’t getting a lot of traction. We re‑thought how we could not just generate revenue but build a scalable business model. We pivoted into obstetric care and more remote monitoring using the same data points that we were collecting back at the 1EQ days but now focusing on one area and deliver a lot of value in one place.
Anish: [15:47] There was a link between the two, just re‑focus.
Juan Pablo: [15:48] Yeah, there definitely was.
Anish: [15:50] The core foundation of the company and even some of the code base was the same. We just said, “What is a pressing pain point in the market that can get us started?” We tried a whole bunch of things. We must have had…
Juan Pablo: [16:09] We tried to go cardiology, endocrinology, fleet medicine. The interesting part, though, is the fact that once you find somewhere that has promise, you’ve got, since you’re a startup, if people watching are related or somehow connected to a startup you’ve got to focus in on one area. You can’t be all things to all people.
[16:32] I was bringing up that moment after the JP Morgan conference because we went up during the showcase. I did my 59 second pitch. I talked about this grand platform that could consolidate all this data. Right towards the end, I mentioned that we were doing a pilot in obstetric care and pregnancy care.
[16:52] Anish pulls me aside and goes, “You know what? We’re a pregnancy company now.” It didn’t hit me until around two months afterwards. It didn’t hit us as a company but two months after that moment we got rid of every other potential pilot that we were pursuing in other areas…
Anish: [17:08] We just focused like a laser on pregnancy care.
Juan Pablo: [17:09] That’s a really important point. At some point you stop pivoting and you start refining and focusing. We’re still going through that process. I don’t think we’re necessarily pivoting anymore.
Unity: [17:20] How do you describe the value proposition today of Babyscripts?
Anish: [17:25] Babyscripts is a technology platform that essentially enhances the care the obstetrician delivers. We focus on patient engagement, patient satisfaction. More importantly, we’re able to automate and remotely monitor a lot of the elements of low risk pregnancies.
[17:42] That causes a lot of operational…
Unity: [17:43] The patient is the user but the doctor or provider is really is the customer.
Anish: [17:47] Is the customer.
Anish: [17:49] That’s right. The OB/GYNs, they’re our customers but the end user is the patient. That’s right.
[17:54] The patients get, we call it the Mommy Kit. We usually have one around us.
Juan Pablo: [17:58] It’s a big pink box.
Anish: [17:59] Yeah, it’s this big pink box.
Unity: [18:00] What’s in the Mommy Kit?
Anish: [18:02] It’s a wireless blood pressure cuff. Maybe we can grab it or nave someone bring it over. We always have it handy. I don’t leave home without it.
Juan Pablo: [18:12] There’s the camera. There you go. You’ve got to display it this way.
Unity: [18:16] I remember you held that up on stage at JP Morgan Heath Care last year.
Juan Pablo: [18:21] Three months ago.
Unity: [18:22] Three months ago?
Juan Pablo: [18:25] Yeah. We unveiled it for the first time publicly. We actually delivered this kit to expecting mothers from their doctors. Their doctors actually prescribe our solution, like a drug, to their patients and then they get our solution.
[18:40] It’s both an app in this box. Inside is a scale and a blood pressure cuff that are connected to the Internet. Through the experience of using the devices, the app, we’re able to remote monitor the mother. If anything’s wrong during the pregnancy we actually alert their doctor in real time so that the doctor can intervene.
[18:59] The interesting thing is…and how we’ve gone to market is, we haven’t said we’re going to work with pairs and improve healthcare outcomes which is most first time entrepreneurs tendency in this space, is to try to go for value and this whole ACO value based healthcare system.
[19:16] We actually are simply eliminating in office visits for the doctors, since we’re capturing the same data that’s usually captured in the clinic at home. Doctors…a lot of people don’t know this, most pregnancy care is paid with global fees, which are lump sum payments.
[19:32] They’re actually able to be more efficient in managing the pregnancies, and they actually make more money by not seeing the patient as often. It works on both ends, and that’s really how we’ve targeted this niche.
Unity: [19:44] It’s interesting that two men are focusing on a pregnancy solution.
Anish: [19:48] Most knowledgeable bachelors in pregnancy matters in the world right here.
Unity: [19:51] Yeah. Obviously one of the things we’re trying to do at StartUp Health is inspire more women to become entrepreneurs, and doctorpreneurs. I think about a third of our companies are run by women. How have you guys gone out and talked to either people who are pregnant, or worked that into your process to really understand the needs?
Anish: [20:23] To your point if two bachelors talk about pregnancy, it’s not really going to be in our favor. We really let the OB/GYN and actually the patients themselves, do the talking for us. We do a lot of focus groups, case studies. People don’t know this but, OB/GYN is the area of medicine where it’s predominantly female.
[20:49] If you look at resident class graduating today it’s 90 percent female, as opposed to surgery where it’s like 80 percent male. Typically, a lot of other specialties are like that. We step back and move into the back and let the product and the users of the product, really do our talking for us. That’s helped.
[21:11] We also have female employees now. That’s also been helpful. At the end of the day we’re building a story and a story that’s actually enhancing the experience of pregnancy.
Juan Pablo: [21:25] I will add that one of our employees actually is pregnant, and on the Babyscripts program. It’s great to get live feedback in the office, as well as just this is something we want to encourage and obviously we’re providing for free and everything else. It’s great to just include that in the culture.
Unity: [21:46] One of the things I know you guys talk about is the human experience of data, of technology. Could you talk a little bit about that, and what that means?
Anish: [21:58] Sure. We’ve now abbreviated that to HuMax.
Unity: [22:03] Like TM.
Anish: [22:04] TM.
Unity: [22:05] TM. That is a Babyscripts concept.
Anish: [22:08] UEX doesn’t exist anymore. It’s all about HuMax. We think that technology should be so ambient in nature, where it just fundamentally is within the fabric of the human experience. I’ll give you just one example. In our case we have the scale. It’s exactly like in every other scale that you ever see.
[22:30] You step on it, and then you go to work. The only difference is we can collect the data from it, but there’s no additional work that the user is doing. The Amazon Echo which just came out, is another good example of it. Where we think technology is going, is outside of an interface.
[22:51] It’s embedded into your everyday life. The Apple Watch, another good example.
Unity: [22:54] Designed right into your life.
Anish: [22:55] That’s right. You look over it and you go, “There’s an email.” You don’t need a computer. Eventually you don’t need a mobile phone. It just comes to you.
Juan Pablo: [23:06] Even concepts like behavior change, that are very…it’s not cliche, but they are used often in the space. You need to redefine that so that you’re necessarily not doing…there isn’t a moment where everything changes. It’s just part of your life. That inclusion is what ultimately changes your behavior in a very ambient way.
Anish: [23:30] The other side of HuMax, HuMax is incomplete without really the data science. When you have a purely human experience run technology, you’re going to collect a lot of data. We’ve been now working on concepts like data science as a service, and that type of thing.
[23:46] The idea is when you have a purely human experience, you can collect a lot of data. You need to quickly be able to refine, look at the data, and see where the value is in that data. Data science and human experience go hand in hand. That’s like a really exciting intersection to be at.
Unity: [24:04] What are you guys most excited about, just to wrap up here? What are you most excited about in the future? What’s coming? What’s getting you excited?
Juan Pablo: [24:16] Most people will be like, “Oh yeah. That big series A.” That’s always a good thing. I’m excited to hit a thousand pregnancies that will have used Babyscripts by the end of this year. We’ve already gotten some great stories about interventions.
Unity: [24:33] You’re working with several great partners already.
Juan Pablo: [24:36] Yeah. It’s interesting. We’ve taken our growth as a company not just like a…it’s a cash flow projection. You’re trying to hit numbers, and you’re trying to create a lot of value, but you’re also trying to change the way people think about just this whole space.
[24:55] We’ve gotten some good stories, but with a thousand pregnancies, I’m going to save lives. I think it’s going to be clear from being able to do this with so many people, that we’re going to have some stories that are going to be game changing. That’s what I’m very very excited about.
[25:14] That is the draw of this space. It’s not just making money or getting a bunch of downloads. It’s, “Hey. I’m actually improving someone’s life,” and that’s powerful stuff.
Anish: [25:28] Just to enhance that, or add to it is, having one customer is very different than having 20 customers. Having 100 patients is very different from having 10,000 patients. We’ve fortunately gone past that stage of having 100 patients, or one customer. Now we’re in the building phase.
[25:48] The challenges in that initial stage, is just as difficult as the challenges in the next one. They’re very different in nature. Now we’re building infrastructure. Now we’re building the roads and bridges of a company. We have employees now, we have a sales force, we have product, we’re a development. It’s all that stuff.
[26:03] Still very interesting challenges, but very different. That’s exciting, that’s literally why we decided to jump ship, from the good old until to late days.
Unity: [26:15] Thank you both for doing what you do, and being healthcare transformers. I think we need more people to come from outside of healthcare into healthcare, and become entrepreneurs, and reinvent the future of every aspect of health and wellness in pregnancy.
[26:31] This is certainly an important part of that. I just had a young son, eight months old now.
Anish: [26:39] Beautiful.
Unity: [26:39] I know a technology and solution like this would have been very meaningful to us, during our journey. Thank you for doing what you’re doing, and thank you for being here today.
Juan Pablo: [26:50] Thanks for having us Unity.
Anish: [26:50] Thank you. Appreciate it.