🎙️ Noosheen Hashemi — CEO of January AI, Seasoned Tech Leader and Philanthropist

👋🏽 Welcome to Doing Well by Doing Good, a newsletter and podcast series highlighting the startups aiming to be profitable with a purpose. Sign up for the newsletter

Happy Friday! In our latest interview we had the opportunity to chat with a Silicon Valley legend who has experienced multiple careers — from a critical executive driving profitability at Oracle, to a philanthropist, and now a startup founder and CEO in the healthcare space!

Noosheen Hashemi is a consummate expert in everything Doing Well by Doing Goodand walks us through how she came to the conclusion that the best way for sustained impact is by building a profit-driven company with a core social mission. That is what she and the team at January AI are building.

In this episode, we explore her journey to reaching that conclusion and explore anecdotes from her long storied career and the critical lessons she learned along the way.

Listen to the whole episode at the link below or check out below the fold for a quick summary of the key ideas and the specific times in the podcast that address them.

Background & Journey

[1:00] January AI’s mission is to eradicate lifestyle diseases by tracking trends over time, change habits and cutting edge AI.

[2:25] What was Noosheen’s journey to becoming the CEO of January AI?

  • She was a sales executive at Oracle from ‘85-’95 doubling sales every year and ruthlessly focused on helping the company become a monopoly in the space.
  • She was at a personal finance startup in the late 90s for 1 year to empower people to be their own agents and invest.
  • After that she began a family office, advised, invested in for-profits and non-profits and did philanthropy for 19 years.
  • In 2016 she fell into Health and AI by learning about AI and society and figured that building a for-profit that is sustainable, profitable and impactful was the next phase in her career.
  • After exploring multiple avenues in the healthtech space, Noosheen fell into the multi-omics space where she found that we could track whole body health to solve chronic conditions like diabetes.

[9:54] Noosheen attributes the journey and January AI to Ikigai — the combination of what you love, what you’re good at and what the world needs

  • Ikigai along with Design Thinking allows us to ask ourselves the right questions to understand if we are achieving Ikigai in our daily work.

[11:56] Doing Well by Doing Good is easier to do today than 20 or 30 years ago.

  • A generational shift has occurred where employees and the market don’t buy that you can do something terrible and cover it with something good [e.g. an oil company exacerbating climate change while donating to cleaning up beaches]
  • In today’s world, we don’t have enough time to do well and do good separately, so doing it together is the most effective use of time.
  • COVID has brought life and health more into the spotlight and society has latched onto that making Doing Well by Doing Good more prevalent.

Mission & Culture

[16:10] January AI’s Mission is to eradicate lifestyle diseases by tracking trends over time, change habits and cutting edge AI.

  • January AI’s Culture: Build a culture by hiring incredibly curious people who are cross-disciplinary, want to build assistive technology and are empathetic to the customer. This is key to achieving the mission.

[19:23] January AI’s deep phenotyping of patients and AI analysis of that data helps create more personalized treatments for diabetes.

  • January AI ran a 1.5 year long clinical trial with 1022 patients to measure heart rate monitors and continuous glucose monitors and predict patients’ responses.
  • 22% of those with diabetes or pre-diabetes are undiagnosed and AI algorithms help reduce the need for expensive wearables because it predicts how people react to foods and only necessitates expensive wearables for extreme cases.

Doing Good

[24:13] What global challenge do you hope to solve with January AI and what vulnerable population would you help?

  • Global Challenge: Obesity and metabolic disease is highly correlated with diabetes. We’ll have over 700M people with diabetes in the world by 2040 and January AI hopes to address this growing and increasingly global challenge (e.g. India & China have growing populations with diabetes)
  • Vulnerable Population: Populations with diabetes, pre-diabetes, or that are at-risk of developing either of these due to hereditary factors. Those in disadvantaged socioeconomic groups are especially at risk due to a higher prevalence compared to other groups (e.g. less likely to consume fiber, which leads to higher prevalence of metabolic diseases)
  • How January AI does good: Personalized monitoring of glucose and other metrics to provide actionable insight into reactions to foods and educating those vulnerable populations about ways they can improve their health.

Doing Well

[31:20] How is January AI’s business model differentiated in the market and how are shareholder value and doing good kept in balance?

  • January AI is a startup focused on building a valuable and powerful product even if that means operating at a loss for a while.
  • January AI’s business model is B2B2C by getting self-insured employers to pay for the app to keep their employees healthy. Adoption is achieved by building an engaging consumer experience that employees love using.
  • January AI balances shareholder value and doing good by having clear lines in the sand (e.g. they will never sell patient’s data). Since the business model is B2B and the end user is D2C, it’s important that they are intricately linked, so doing good for patients is also good business practice.
  • January AI has competition but the market is large and continuing to grow. January AI is differentiating through a better AI-powered consumer experience and hopes with it to be able to scale to help the 122M US adults with diabetes or pre-diabetes.

[38:50] How does January AI think about customers who don’t have wearables? Does January AI need to provide the hardware as well?

  • January AI does not provide CGMs since they use one-time use enzymes and so cannot be leased (like the workout app Future does with Apple Watches), but instead focuses on identifying the intermittent need for CGMs with advanced AI. In addition the cost of CGMs is continually decreasing which is a positive trend for the business.

For Profit vs. Non-profit?

[40:43] Noosheen studied non-profits for over 20 years and learned they aren’t sustainable by themselves while for profit businesses are. Both have their merits.

  • Non-profits such as museums are not balancing their books but run on grants and asking for donations. They do not follow market forces and can be meaningful and well done (e.g. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation).
  • For profit startups are all about making money and sustaining their impact over time through growing profitability. They do follow market forces and when combined with the right doing good mission can do as much good as it does well.
  • Noosheen encourages listeners to find their Ikigai which may be in a non-profit or for-profit, big or small, well-funded or not. Each person has their own journey and should identify what brings them happiness.

[44:45] Doing Good through non-profits is incredibly useful and has HUGE impacts. That said, there is a rising tide of for profits that are Doing Good AND Doing Well

  • For Noosheen, January AI is her foray into building a sustaining Doing Well by Doing Good business that could solve a very difficult problem with a widespread impact.
  • Doing Well by Doing Good is extremely hard in healthcare because it is incredibly opaque. This complexity is what attracted Noosheen to tackling chronic conditions — one of the most difficult healthcare challenges

Advice for Listeners

[47:15] Figure out truly what you are good at, what puts you in flow. That requires being honest with yourself.

  • Lean into your strengths so you can force multiply your impact and make them into a superpower. This is the fastest way to maximize impact.
  • Every person is different. It’s good to have role models but discovering yourself it most important in your career.

[49:03] For entrepreneurs, what is your WHY? Keep asking why until you get to the bottom of it because entrepreneurship is a VERY difficult journey.

  • Overnight success takes 15 years, nothing comes easy.
  • Every journey looks different, you can’t find your WHY anywhere else

Thanks for listening and reading! Hope you enjoyed this episode! If you have any feedback email us back or leave a comment. And if you liked this post and think your friends or family might like it please share!

And if you want to share or listen to the episode here’s the episode link again so you can listen yourself or share the podcast directly.

Stay tuned for more posts and interviews with founders building meaningful Doing Well by Doing Good companies and the professionals that support them.

Have a great weekend!

👋🏽 Anand

Originally published at https://dwdg.substack.com on April 8, 2022.

--

--

Building sustainable businesses is hard. Doing it while driving societal change is even harder. Here we highlight the companies striking that balance.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Anand Sampat

Anand Sampat

Builder. Thinker. Musician. Subscribe to my newsletter @ http://dwdg.substack.com @datmoAI (acq by @oneconcerninc)