Leveraging regional capabilities in the global market – Concept to Product translation
Disclaimer: We are product engineers and we build products for the living.
iNICU is our third product as a team and building it from concept to a product stage. We had various milestones in its development and after each one of them we felt closer than before to our ultimate goal of “THE PRODUCT”.
But it had definitions, which varied with company maturity lifecycle and business requirements. The initial definition of the product was to reach a minimum viable product (MVP) on which you can raise money and get a Letter of Intent from customers. Subsequently, it changed to an industrial-grade product which can run uninterruptedly in intensive care units to complete pilots with initial customers. To scale up, we need medical-grade solution meeting compliance requirements in the country of operation, to run it securely. Clinical benefits can be extracted from our PRODUCT by using it as a research tool that would answer various translational queries.
All of us as entrepreneurs are part of this journey and we all believe that this journey will be successful when we accomplished the final goal – “THE EXIT” or “How Many Life’s saved”
Our journey also taught us that building a product requires various skills. Initially, we put together a team to show the viability of success in achieving the result. But over the period, we realized that building a global product would more rely on country-specific strengths and that’s the time we started searching for our strengths as a team and more as a country. Each product has 3 aspects:
- Data intelligence
We learned from our experience that building the hardware of the product, its PCB, electronic component procurement, testing, and packaging was not a strength that India has. Comparing to China, Korea, and Taiwan, we are far behind. Article photo is what we achieved in India vs Korea (in months vs weeks respectively). Irrespective of cost; “Quality and Time to market of our innovation is invaluable for startup survival”.
Our strength in India is our software maturity, development capabilities, and Dev-ops maturity that you can build in your indigenous Indian team (also quite cost-effective).
The other huge strength is our population and the amount of data you can achieve in the Indian healthcare industry. You have regional and financial discrepancies in healthcare being provided. Indian upper-middle-class population (approximately 267 million) can provide as much data as you get from the US population.
When you compare analytics, the advancement in US research and the ability to fund and innovate basic science is way more advanced than what we do in India. Our advisors from Stanford, UCSF, and Carnegie Mellon provide their time series prediction to achieve output while our engineering team is still stuck in the nuisance of Spark or Tensorflow or Cassandra vs Mongo.
We were quite fortunate to attract marquee investors early in our business lifecycle. These investors had either experience in building products with long gestation (Indian healthcare will pay slowly) and/or interest to contribute to social causes. At the same time being in a premature healthcare market niche, we were not attractive for a lot of investment funds. It is quite imperative for an entrepreneur to be positioned in the market where innovation and these sorts of large gestation products can be supported. Being in India, the cost of capital is quite high, therefore being in Singapore or the US is better for access to funds and competing at the global level.
Our goal as an entrepreneur should be to leverage our strengths and build relationships in other parts of the world that would replenish for our weaknesses. The world is a global market and the only product that will survive will be one that is built on all superior traits (survival of the fittest). That’s what our mission is for iNICU, “Saving Children Life the data way”
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