The time is finally upon us. Mobile is about to turn a corner from the age of discovery and ideation to that of true and tremendous value to society. It might take a little longer to get us there but we are absolutely thinking about the right things in the right way and heading in the appropriate direction. We are starting to see a number of ideas that were born of a challenge that could not have been solved prior to this mobile revolution. These ideas percolated in labs around the world waiting for an appropriate means to arrive that would enable it and mobile is it for many of them.
Big data will play an incredible role in many of these ideas – it always has. Big data isn’t a new concept is it? The only thing mobile has really done is democratize the collection and distribution of it, right? That alone is the catalyst for companies around the world to begin doing the things they wished they could have done for years. Out there, somewhere buried in the data that has been collected and collated, is the cure for migraines, the common cold and cancer – we just haven’t had the tools to see it until mobile.
At the center of this new revolution around medical data is a small startup based in Boston called Ubiqi Health. Their co-founder, Jacqueline Thong, is right in the middle of the mobile health wave, the rise of preventative health through data and the rise of the mobile health consumer. She started small with an underserved market of migraine sufferers but it doesn’t take a visionary to see where this could go.
This episode is about the journey and the lessons she’s learned along the way. It is a glimpse into an industry poised for cataclysmic upheaval and change and all for the better. Is this the start of realtime health care? Could mobile help classify, diagnose and treat certain ailments without seeing a doctor? Big questions – ones we will be seeing play out inside of companies like Ubiqi. Here’s their story. Be inspired.
Here is a quick reference of what we covered in the show. Click on the link and the video will take you to that clip
1. What is Ubiqi Health 2:00
2. What is the big problem you are trying to solve 3:30
3. Jacqueline’s background 4:45
4. Why focus on migraines 7:45
5. Why start it? 10:00
6. What was missing in the market 11:15
7. Where are your users coming from 14:00
8. How did you get them to allow you to use their data? 14:45
9. How do you guarantee data access if someone buys you? 16:20
10. What is the power of this kind of data? 17:50
11. What were the challenges you faced building this company 20:30
12. What were your milestones 21:50
13. How did you find users 22:30
14. How did you figure out if you could make money 24:10
15. What is your revenue model and how did you validate your revenue model? 27:00
16. What do you hope to influence from the data you are collecting/providing 28:30
17. Will insurance companies use this data against us at some point for higher premiums? 31:20
18. How did you find your partners 35:45
19. Advice for companies looking to partner 38:45
20. What is a good number of users to satisfy your requirements 40:50
21. Is this predictive healthcare? 42:20
22. How have you developed and designed the product 44:00
23. How did you form the company 44:45
24. Is wearing multiple hats a challenge 45:45
25. How does big data influence the healthcare industry 46:50
26. Is this the dawn of the healthcare consumer? 49:15
27. The one thing you would never change even in hindsight 50:40
My key takeaways
Raving fans for a reason – because it fills a need that is being underserved
Too many times we’ve seen the semblance of “raving fans” only to find out they weren’t really raving fans, only opportunistic ones in search of celebrity approval. Think about some of the bigger mobile company flops that have been helmed by digital celebrities – they gather their following who rally around their product only to be left in the dark when they decide to focus elsewhere. These aren’t raving fans. Raving fans are users that truly see the value in the product you provide because it provides value to their everyday existence. If gaining acceptance and becoming an important part of someone’s life – which is what we are asking for – is the goal, filling a need and honouring that is a base requirement. Do this and you will create raving fans.
Ask yourself – are you putting your users needs in front and then honouring that commitment to them? If not, what could you do that would change the nature of that relationship? If you are doing this already, what could you do that would deepen the relationship to prevent users from finding another similar service or product? Ask these questions often or you will risk losing your important influential users to someone that does.
Mobile can be the aspirin
You’ve undoubtedly heard the analogy of being the aspirin to your customers which means be the solution to a pain they are suffering from. This is very appropriate for a mobile health company who’s first product is focused on migraines. The challenge is that Ubiqi Health does not cure the problem – nothing does for everyone – but it catalogs the symptoms and analyzes it for patterns and hopes to become a preventative diagnosis system based on that data. If the outcome of the effort from all users – connected by the genetic hardship of migraines in this instance – helps identify new ways to reduce the frequency or severity of the pain, everyone benefits. Doctors, patients, the health industry, pharma – everyone.
The credibility is in the right experience
Credibility isn’t about age or years of experience, it is about commitment to the craft. So many entrepreneurs get into a line of business they are wholly and completely uncommitted to. One of my early mentors experienced this first hand when he invested a significant amount of his earnings in a business he (a) had no understanding of and (b) had no passion for. The outcome was bankruptcy and loss of credibility.
For Jacqueline and her team, the reason they were able to reach the people and partners they have reached is that the company’s focus is in an area of health that she and her team have been a part of and will continue to be a part of going forward. Their experience is the reason they can reach the people they’ve reached. Their commitment to the cause has allowed them to find a better way to collect, collate and present data from users and mobile was the solution. Their experience have given them credibility to date. The outcome of this endeavour will give them more and allow them to take even the next step.
What gives you the right to ask of your clients and partners? Are you versed in their challenges or are you approaching this as an opportunity while you look for the next one. Customers, partners and the public will know.
Do what your customers can’t do for themselves
One of the most obvious and biggest lessons from this episode is the approach Jacqueline took when she went looking for paying customers. First off, she has two types of customers – those that put the data in the system and those that are interested in pulling the data out of the system. In theory, the accumulated knowledge that is put into the system will benefit those that contributed their part – that is a simple part of the equation. The bigger play is in the companies that are interested in getting the data out and why they aren’t offering the service themselves.
This gets a little clouded because it could be a number of things – legal, impartiality, trust, whatever – but the key is to find out what they are interested in paying for and being their solution to that pain. For Ubiqi, their paying customers are larger pharma companies that need this data in order to modify marketing campaigns, shape the product offering or even shift direction. For them to mobilize and attack the market the way they should could take years and cost them billions in the meantime. Partnering with a committed company that gets them there faster without having to go through what could be painful internal hoops is a large win for them.
Are you looking at your customers this way? What is their pain and how are you helping them alleviate it? How do you fill their gaps faster than they can? Don’t compete, contribute.
What do you think? Also, what do you think of the new format for the episodes? Do you like the chapters for quick reference? The takeaways? What else would you like to see. Leave a comment or two below or email me.
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About Jacqueline Thong
Jacqueline heads the Ubiqi team, working both on developing our product and on bringing it to our users. Prior to starting Ubiqi Health, she was a pioneer in implementing electronic patient diaries for use in Clinical Trials at CRF Inc. in Finland and Boston. Originally from Vancouver, BC, Jacqueline is an avid skier and outdoor adventurer.