“Taking care of a child is considered by everyone to be a basic necessity. We serve this need.” Says Patrycja Wizińska-Socha, the CEO and founder of the medical start-up Nestmedic. Patrycja Wizińska-Socha graduated in biotechnology from the Wrocław University of Science and Technology and completed her doctorate at the Wrocław Medical University. She wanted to work in telemedicine. When her friend lost her baby just before the due date, Patricia decided to create “Pregnabit” – a service which allows pregnant women to check the health of their fetus, anywhere, anytime.
What exactly is Pregnabit?
Patrycja Wizińska-Socha: This is a telemedical system for testing the welfare of babies. It is made up of a device, i.e. a portable cardiotocograph (CTG), a platform on which data from patients is transferred, and a telemonitoring centre where midwives and physicians continually analyze all test recordings. The patient carries out the CTG test on their own, at any time and place, and within a few minutes she receives feedback on the results.
In what way is your product better than rival devices?
Our solution provides professional medical equipment combined with medical service. We have gained all of the necessary certificates and we examine the same parameters as other good quality non-portable CTG equipment does; i.e. the heart rate and movements of the child, uterine muscle spasms as well as the mother’s heartbeat.
We distinguish ourselves by the fact that we do not just leave the patient with the results. These are immediately analyzed by the medical staff at the telemonitoring center. If everything is all right, the patient quickly receives a text message from us with that information. If there is an abnormality or if something is not clear, the telemonitoring center’s medical staff will immediately call them for a medical consultation and recommend appropriate steps. Sometimes we call an ambulance for a patient who is using the Pregnabit system, if they are in need of urgent medical support.
What motivates you to do this work?
We want to make people’s lives better. I am a realist and I know that every child cannot be saved. I also know that thanks to modern technologies, it is possible to help many of them. And that is very important. All those sleepless nights, broken weekends, no vacations -all this to save as many children as possible. After 5 years of work and the transition from an idea to commercial applicability, we are convinced that all these efforts have made sense – we really do save children’s lives.
What are the biggest obstacles for the company?
Funding. The launch was very difficult. For almost two years I had been looking for funding, grants and investors. I was a doctoral student at the time and the trust in me as a young person -without an academic title, without a permanent team -was limited. Even from institutions that grant grants to scientists. Eventually, we managed to find the first investor and the company was launched. However, raising funds for the rapid development of the company and for foreign expansion, still plays a very important role.
The expectations of financial investors in Poland are very demanding when it comes to innovative start-ups. In a sense, we still are a start-up. We already have an established product, nevertheless it needs to be constantly adapted to the needs of specific foreign markets. Not everyone understands that. That is why we are now talking mainly to foreign investors, because they have a more open approach to innovation.
What are the greatest milestones for your company?
When we first found out that our involvement had made the birth of a healthy child possible! There was a problem during that particular pregnancy, as the baby was wrapped in the umbilical cord. If we had not notified the mother of what was happening, her pregnancy could have ended in tragedy. What a wonderful feeling of great joy that was for the whole team and an incredible impetus for developing our work further.
And the moment when MIT Technology Review awarded us the title of Innovator of the Year was also very important to us. That gave us wings too!
What are your plans for the coming year?
We are focusing on three areas. First of all, foreign expansion and sales. Now we are entering the Finnish market and starting to collaborate with the University Hospital in Helsinki, the largest in Finland. We’ve already made our first sales to Nigeria. We have defined additional foreign markets and have prepared strategies for entering them.
Secondly, product development. We are constantly introducing new features. In addition, we are already thinking about other products that will help care for women before, during and after pregnancy. We have a strong technological team; we see a lot of needs around us and we strive to do our best to handle these appropriately.
The third thing is funding. We are currently finishing negotiations with a German investment fund. This will enable us to further our development.
Where do you want to be with the company in five years’ time?
We want to break even and start generating revenues so as to facilitate the dynamic development of Nestmedic. We plan to be a global company with a wide range of telemedicine products, including an IT platform with algorithms which enable remote monitoring and analysis of reports. We want to develop appropriate business models for our products and set new standards for healthcare. We have the ambition to enter the main stock exchange market abroad rather than in Poland.
Information about the company:
– Founders: Patrycja Wizińska-Socha and Anna Skotny
– Year founded: 2014
– Financial info: the company is financed through several sources. There have been sales revenues for the past two years. In addition, several private investors have invested in the start-up, received grants for R & D products and is listed on the stock exchange (new connection).
– How many employees? And are they hiring? There are 10 permanent employees at Nestmedic along with several subcontractors and employees of affiliated companies. The affiliated company is the Medical Telemonitoring Service, where midwives and physicians are also employed.
– Ultimate goal in a few words: To be a global telemedicine company with a wide range of products.
More about start-ups of the day here