#1: Creating a popular healthcare platform from ground up | Joshua Landy, Co-founder of Figure 1

Published on January 4, 2022

What challenges arise during the implementation of technologies in the healthcare field? What is the main tip that will help you create an app for doctors that will succeed? Why are Saudi Arabia and South Korea the strictest countries on the legal side in terms of implementing healthcare applications? And a lot of other questions that you will get an answer to if you listen to our podcast with our guest - Dr. Joshua Landy - a practicing critical care physician, Chief Medical Officer, and co-founder of Figure 1, the case-sharing network for health care professionals. His Twitter bio says: “Willing to arrive in costume. Maker of ice creams”. Enjoy the listening!

In this episode, we discuss:

02:02 Figure 1. How the app went from being an idea to a popular platform among healthcare professionals

9:39 The business model of Figure 1

16:32 How to get physicians to take up new technologies, and other challenges in implementing technologies into the healthcare field

20:03 Criticism is essential - the main advice to healthcare startups 

22:23 “Vetting your idea and knowing that that thing going to sell can help you succeed” - why is it relevant for healthcare applications

24:19 The legal side of creating Figure 1

26:23 What problems are experienced now in Figure 1 and how to tackle and overcome them

31:11 Advice to other professionals who would like to implement technologies in the healthcare

34:03 Rapid Fire Round (3 questions)

 

Links:

Joshua’s Landy Twitter: https://twitter.com/joshualandy

Tiktok: https://www.tiktok.com/@joshualandy1?

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/%F0%9F%A9%BA-joshua-landy-md-2984176a/

Figure 1: https://www.figure1.com/

 

Listen to the episode on iTunesSoundCloudSpotifyYouTubeGoogle Podcasts and let us know what you think on the topic.

Ivan Dunskiy: Hello everyone. And welcome to the first episode of the HealthTech Beat podcast. I'm excited to start this journey. The mission of our podcast is to show the real-life challenges of implementing technology in healthcare. The podcast is sponsored by Demigos, a company that develops IT solutions for health tech startups and companies.

For more information, check the website demigos.com. My name is Ivan Dunskiy - your today's host, and I'm joined by a very special guest, Joshua Landy, a practicing critical care physician and the co-founder of Figure 1. The case is a sharing network for healthcare professionals. By the way, Joshua's Twitter bio says: Willing to arrive in costume. Maker of ice creams. 

Josh, thank you for joining. How are you today?

Joshua Landy: Good. Thanks so much. And it's nice to be with you. I am excited because I just had my favorite holiday of the year. I was in costume last night. 

Ivan Dunskiy: Oh, cool. What was your costume?

Joshua Landy: A few years ago, I had a custom-made replica Ghostbusters proton pack delivered to my house from a prop studio in California. And until I can amortize the cost of that proton pack over enough years. I have to be a Ghostbuster every year. It's just that.

Ivan Dunskiy: Do you want to change costumes for the future Halloweens? 

Joshua Landy: I don't know. I mean, if I could get something really good, maybe I would sell it. Doc Brown costume to do a back to the future costume. I think Ghostbusters is a pretty reliable favorite, though.

[02:02] Figure 1. How the app went from being an idea to a popular doctors’ knowledge sharing platform among healthcare professionals

Ivan Dunskiy: Always relevant. Could you please give a brief background of who you are and how did you create the doctors’ knowledge-sharing platform Figure 1? 

Joshua Landy: I'm a practicing critical care doctor. And when I was doing my residency here in Canada, I wanted to be a medical educator. I looked around, and I sort of thought about the way that we were receiving real-life medical education.

And I felt like there was a lot more that could be done with it. And I wanted to pursue that residency program that I was in; it didn't have anyone who could supervise or help me do that better. They were very straightforward about that. And so I just sort of figured. Just start practicing and figure it out later.

So actually, it was that first year I was invited to be a visiting scholar at Stanford University, working with the department of anesthesia there, where they were doing a lot of innovative things for medical education. And we did some research, and basically, we asked the question, how did young physicians use their smartphones for medical education?

And what we learned was they did a lot of different behaviors. But when you ask people, like, what are you actually doing with your phone? They described the same thing over and over again. They were taking pictures of things that they were seeing, and they were sending them to their teammates or their teachers to ask questions or discuss the management of a patient.

So, this behavior of seeing people, seeing cases on your phone, From people you knew, was sort of like behavior that was showing up as smartphones were becoming more and more ubiquitous in healthcare. This is in 2012. So, you know, the iPhone had been out for five years or something like that.

Right? Like they were still the iPhone 3, I think. You know, cameras weren't that great. It was right at the birth of Instagram. So we were at the beginning. This is going to be important for the way that physicians learn, especially these people who are just entering medical school now. And I learned that we weren't wrong.

We went to conferences, and I spoke about this idea. And any time I raised my hand to ask physicians in the audience. 

Hey, you guys use your phones at work. Do you have pictures on your phones? In patients' cases, every single person puts their hand up to say yes. So, you know, that type of signal isn't the sort of thing you ignore.

If you have an idea and you already think you're right, which I definitely did. So I finished my term at Stanford. I came back to Toronto, and I had dreams with two colleagues. And we started chatting, and we talked about this idea, and one of them said, I think I could raise money for that as a business if you wanted to start the business.

And the other one said I think I could build that as an app if you wanted to start this company. And I said, well, I do. So do you guys want to do those things? And they were like, yeah. So we got together like a week later to hash out the details about who would do what job and what sort of thing we were going to make.

Ivan Dunskiy: That it wasn't 2013?

Joshua Landy: That was the fall of 2012. And then we built a really basic version to see if we could make the ends connect, like literally the most minimum viable product you have ever seen. And showed it to a few friends and a few members of our family, and people said, yeah, that's the sort of thing that could work. So in January 2013, we got together, made the company official. We hired somebody who would help us do our communications and one developer. And we started making the app.

Ivan Dunskiy: And where are you at right now? 

Joshua Landy: So we've come a long way since January 2013. It will be eight years in January, and the first we launched the Figure 1 healthcare app that spring, right. It was ready for the app store after all the legal work was done. We had a bet in our company between the CEO and our communications person about how many people would end up joining the app. And it did pretty well the first week, and the second week was just crazy. Like we had 10,000 users inside the first month. It was great. I think at the time it was pretty innovative to put like that kind of content.

Ivan Dunskiy: How did you promote your app to get that growth?

Joshua Landy: We called around to a few media outlets, and we said, we're doing this. We're putting medical cases on a phone for doctors to connect with each other and share medical knowledge via the app.

And they said that's a good story. I mean, I don't think it's that great a story if you published it today, but it was a pretty good story eight years ago. And it made the front page of our national newspaper, and then it jumped to the internet, and it was on the front page of the website for a while. That was popular then. And then it was on the front page of Mashable and maybe an Engadget and a few other technology news pieces. And it started getting people's attention. 

Ivan Dunskiy: That's really impressive. 

Joshua Landy: Yeah. The pitch is pretty simple. We want to be able to create an opportunity for doctors to learn from other doctors to share cases about things that you find challenging, interesting, difficult, whatever makes you take a picture of a case. That's what should put on your phone, and you know, erasing those boundaries between like the silo of healthcare, really. This opened the field wide app.

Ivan Dunskiy: And, being a physician, can you create a segment of people you trust? Because I think that not necessarily you trust all opinions, right? It is important to get opinions that are valuable for a specific physician. So how can they handle that in Figure 1?

Joshua Landy: Yeah, there's a lot of different ways. I mean, the number one thing that we did was we created a worldwide verification platform wherein nearly every country in the world we can take a user who signs up, and we can find their medical license, and we can verify that that person is, they say they are, and they are a licensed practicing medical professional. 

So today, you can't even access Figure 1 unless you have a license to practice healthcare, right. So if you're a nurse or a doctor, a physiotherapist, pharmacist, resident, med student, whatever, technically med students don't have licenses, but we can verify that you're a student in that school. 

So you know, that's how we created this sort of trustworthy platform is just putting a gate up and saying, this is a network that is for healthcare professionals. It's the cases that might be interesting to look at, but they're not there to look at; they're there because people need our help, and sometimes we need other people's help.

Ivan Dunskiy: Right. And are you focusing on the North American market currently?

Joshua Landy: Yeah, I think we probably are. And that's mostly a business decision. We've got 3 million users around the world, and only a third of those are in North America, which means most of our users are not in North America. There's a clear line of how we know how to do business in North America and so that's why that's the focus of our company. 

But it has nothing to do with the greater mission of connecting the global knowledge of healthcare. You can still join, you can still use the app, but our business efforts, which means the way that we make money at the company, that part is focused on North America, because that's where we can do the business that we know how to do.

[09:39] The business model of doctor-only knowledge-sharing platform Figure 1

Ivan Dunskiy: Cool. And in the questionnaire that you submitted, you mentioned that Figure 1 accidentally discovered its business model, which wasn't recommended as a strategy in the beginning. So could you please tell us more about that?

Joshua Landy: Yeah, sure. So you know, we had created a doctor-only social network app where you can scroll pictures of medical cases and look at the captions that described the case. That is in line with the name, Figure 1, right? Figure 1 is named what it is because when you look at medical textbooks or medical pieces of literature, publications, the first picture is labeled Figure 1, and right underneath is a caption that describes what that picture is doing in that article or in that chapter. 

So we use that same idea, and basically, we built a brand around showing you a picture and telling you what it's for or telling you what it's about. That is a very powerful engagement tool, right? That's why every social media network is basically built on the same principle. We didn't invent that part, but we did realize that the same way physicians learn about cases and how to manage or treat or diagnose a case by looking at it, you can do the same thing with information you need for other reasons in medicine.

So, building a business plan for, say, a pharmaceutical company to show people cases of a disease that we then know how to treat with the treatment that the company makes. That was the first version of the business that went in Figure 1. 

We have case-based learning. Clinicians learn best when they see cases. If you can take your banner ad, tear it up, throw it in the garbage and turn it in and then take the information you want people to learn and just show them a case. Then they actually learn it because it's in the format that they already understand how to use. And so we just said, let's try this. And it turned out that these types of native pieces of content were a lot more engaging than the standard pharmaceutical tactics on the internet.

And once we discovered that, we just went back to the people who wanted our business, and we said, Hey, you know that this works better than the stuff you're already paying for. And then they say, yeah, sure, here's more money. And we said, thanks. 

So, you know, it's sort of working well in that domain, but we didn't know that when we started, right, when we started, we were just this app that was going to democratize the knowledge of healthcare and build the world's largest healthcare network. That's not enough to get your business, which means if you don't have a business, you can't get investments, you can't grow your company. Like you have to build a company, and it takes capital to do that. So you can either do that by making money through business, or you can do it by raising money from investors.

Ivan Dunskiy: So you provided value to the market, and then you found your best business model. 

Joshua Landy: Yeah. I mean, the question you will ask yourself in any company: do we choose the right business model? In some places, that's obvious. Like if you sell tools: the only way to do business is to sell those tools, right? I guess you could sell them as a monthly subscription or you could sell them as a rent to own, or you could sell them directly. 

But for a network of healthcare professionals, we could have turned it into a medical school. We could have opened a patient portal and said, patients can send us your cases, and we'll process your insurance or something. There are probably a dozen more ideas that could have gone, but you do what you know. 

Our team knew how to sell a custom-built education to some biopharmaceutical companies, some like we didn't deal with the department of defense. We did a few deals with some non-governmental organizations. But it's basically people who need the attention of physicians.

Ivan Dunskiy: So are you focusing on the B2B market right now from the business model standpoint? You said that you are dealing more with pharmaceutical companies. As I understood, you focus more on how you can sell data to these companies that could benefit from it and not necessarily to make money from subscriptions from doctors, from physicians.

Joshua Landy: Yeah. I mean, maybe you could call it B2B. I've never thought about it that way. You know, we are a service business, and we sell a product to a business, which are the right, the companies that we deal with. But I don't think we connect them to other businesses as in typical B2B, right. This is just highly, highly targeted medical education.

Ivan Dunskiy: But you don't charge physicians.

Joshua Landy: That's right. No, it's a free model. and that was important because we wanted people to be able to share the network and participate by sharing their knowledge, sharing their experience. And no matter where you were, we wanted you to have access. 

Like there are dozens of cases where we see somebody from a place like Haiti or in rural Alaska, or even places in Sub-Saharan Africa where a physician has had a patient have a case. They don't know what to do. They post it in Figure 1, you get 10,000 responses, and you figure out what the right ones are. Right? Like it's not a question and answer service, like Stack Overflow, right? So, people who are expecting that, there's going to be one right answer. Those people haven't practiced medicine before this.

Ivan Dunskiy: Yeah. But it can provide you with a diversity of different opinions, and then being a physician, you can decide what the best path to go is. That's right. 

Joshua Landy: Yeah. I mean, just like any other tool that a physician uses, it's your responsibility to decide which things you're going to apply to your patients in which things you're not, it's all about that clinical judgment that you have at the bedside, you might have dozens of places to go to look for an answer, but in the end, coming up with the plan of what you're going to do that you think is going to help your patients. That's your job.

Ivan Dunskiy: Yeah, of course. And let's talk about technology in healthcare. Working as a physician and being an entrepreneur like what real-life challenges of implementing technology in healthcare did you experience and observe?

Joshua Landy: Well, if you do two busy jobs at the same time, then you have to make sure that you get enough sleep. That was one of the hardest parts for me because working as an intensive care doctor, sometimes I would have a very long night, finish my shift in the morning and then go to the Figure 1 office and, you know, take calls, do business, try to write some emails. That can be a challenge for sure. 

[16:32] How to get physicians to take up new technologies, and other challenges in implementing technologies into the healthcare field

Ivan Dunskiy: Yeah, but my question was particularly about technology in healthcare. So being a physician, working in Figure 1, what are the main technology challenges you observe? 

Joshua Landy: Well, I think the technology challenges we face, we're not necessarily like technical ones. Like how do you build a verification network? I mean, that was a challenge, but it wasn't with a little bit of research, you can find out immediately that it's doable. The biggest risk was how do you get physicians to take up new technologies. And this is, I think, the most challenging thing for any new health technology company.

I work part-time as an advisor to startups, and the startups that I meet are often building things. And they have no idea how they're going to get them into doctor's hands because that's, you know, for the amount of a population, there's less than 1% of the population that are physicians, right.

So it's not as if you can just go on Facebook and tell everybody about it. And everyone's going to just talk about it and buy your product. You have to get into this network of professionals who are generally very busy and not spending a lot of time on social media. You have to convince them that it's a good use of their time or money or both.

And they know that there are lots of people trying to get part of their time or part of their money or both. So you've got a very cautious population. Both by nature because the role of a physician is a cautious one, but also just people being wary of so many things trying to advertise to them. And you have to be able to demonstrate that there's value with your product.

You have to be able to do that really quickly. And you have to have people make essentially an impulse decision that they want to download your app when they see whatever it is that you're showing them. So building those relationships with a busy professional population was probably one of the most challenging things that we've done.

And it's still a challenge today, right? By any means, like doing that job. And I think there are hundreds of companies working on how to do this better. It's the marketing challenge that goes along with the industry, but there isn't an industry that doesn't have those types of challenges. 

Ivan Dunskiy: But specifically for Figure 1, and you don't have that problem, right. As I understood, you have pretty good traction among physicians, and you don't need to convince them to use the product. 

Joshua Landy: Well, the best part is that whenever I talk to folks who are physicians about this type of product, I'll describe it, and I'll say it's a network that lets you upload cases, and you can do it from your phone, and you can share them with other people, and you can answer folks questions, or they can answer yours.

And everyone says one of two things, and they use it. They either say that's a great idea. Or they say, oh, I thought of that too. 

Ivan Dunskiy: Yeah, that's a good sign. 

Joshua Landy: Yeah. It feels like we're in the right zone for that.

Ivan Dunskiy: Especially since they're not paying, so that's also a good incentive to use it. 

Joshua Landy: Yeah. Having a free app that helps. I mean, it's all about creating the kind of behavioral economics you want from your target population. Do you want people to stop at the front door and look around, or do you want people to walk in and look around, right? If you have a paid app, you have to convince somebody to give you what, $2, $5.

[20:03] Criticism is essential - the main advice to healthcare startups  

Ivan Dunskiy: Hmm. And why, right. So there's a question why they need to do that to spend their money and time. So for those startups that are trying to build an app for healthcare for physicians, what advice can you give to them? Like how they can market their product, how they convenience those busy professionals to try it?

Joshua Landy: I think the hardest thing is to prevent yourself from being convinced that your idea is already a good one when you start. And I don't mean this to be rude or mean, but most of the ideas that I hear from young entrepreneurs for healthcare are not good. They're not good ideas because they haven't been criticized by somebody who works in healthcare.

You know, somebody has an uncle, who's a pharmacist or you know, an aunt who's a surgeon and they'll say, oh, well, you know, I think this is a really important problem. And I'll say, how many doctors did you talk to? And they'll say just one, they'll say that, not enough. Think of how many of these you have to sell.

 And by the way, this is true for every field of a startup, not just medical tech, but it's especially true in medical tech, like go out, vet your idea, tell it, get somebody to criticize it so that you understand where the holes are. You didn't come up with a perfect idea the first time around, I promise. So, you know, like poke your own holes, go get somebody else to poke holes in it. Figure out where the biggest benefit is. And then whittled down your idea until it's just the thing that makes people feel delighted. And when you have that, now you can start building a business because you have demand.

One of the smartest and most successful investors I've ever met Once said that his name is Bill Burley, by the way, he's a phenomenal business coach. But he's also an investor who's been very successful in the United States with his company, benchmark capital.

They're one of the best performing VCs of all time. He once wrote that what you need to accumulate is demand, not supply. And most people think about only supply, right? This is how we're going to get a huge pile of these things that we're going to sell to doctors. Like, okay. That's great but I would much rather have a lineup of doctors waiting to buy something I don't have, rather than have something that I have to go out and get people to buy.

[22:23] ‘Vetting your idea and knowing that that thing going to sell can help you succeed’ - why is it relevant for healthcare applications

Ivan Dunskiy: Yeah, of course. And that's interesting that you mentioned that it is especially relevant for healthcare. So why do you think so? Why do you think it's different in some way from other industries? 

Joshua Landy: Well, so the differences that I'm referring to are the ones where everything in healthcare takes longer.

Everything in healthcare is more expensive, and everything in healthcare is more cautious, which means your sales cycles are longer, which means the time that you spend between the moment that you have your idea and you make you sell your first deal, that's much longer than you think it's going to be, which is just business risk, right?

Like you need to have enough capital to support your company through those research and development cycles, which can be years long. And if your sales cycle is 18 months or two years, on top of that, you are expecting to spend four years before you make your first sale, which is why vetting your idea and knowing that that thing's going to sell when you walk into somebody's office every bit of that extra confidence can help you succeed. 

Ivan Dunskiy: You need to be sure.

Joshua Landy: If you're wrong, it's so much more time and so much more money than other industries. Like in a consumer brand, you can put stuff up on your website, and you could sell hundreds of them before you even make anything. Just by putting a website up and seeing if people will buy it, put an ad on Instagram, see if people buy the stuff you haven't made yet.

See if they'll sign up for an app that you have designs for but not software for it. That's easy, but you can't do that for healthcare because you can't sell people things that don't exist because they're going to want to see them because they're going to be put, you know, on or inside people's bodies. 

Every darkness is going to want to know how does it work? How many pieces are there? Does it break if I push on it, does it break, if I pull on it, like, they're going to want to feel all these small bits at themselves for a social network like ours, right? You wouldn't believe the number of people who ask us about how we protect patient privacy. 

Even though it's the first thing we talk about when you sign up for the app. Um, but it, you know, it doesn't prevent folks from feeling like they need to protect their patients, which is, I think, the right way to feel. It takes a long time to start a business.

[24:19] The legal side of building a doctor-only social network Figure 1

Ivan Dunskiy: I assume that they don't even need to share patients' names right using the app. And still, they ask these questions. Yeah. That's interesting.  

Joshua Landy: Yeah. I mean, privacy regulations were something that we learned about around the world. You know, Figure 1 is available in something like 192 countries. And that was a lot of hard work. At the time, we had one lawyer who was doing all of this international research, she was incredible. 

But that was her full-time job for basically two or three years until we got all our privacy stuff sorted out, figured out what the rules are? What can you release? What can you say? What can't you say? What do we have to prevent people from releasing on the app? Because we made a promise to our users, which is we're not going to store any personal health information, anything private doesn't come on Figure 1. That way, if there's ever a data breach, there hasn't been one. But even if there was, we wouldn't worry because everyone's information is totally protected. You're not gonna see any data breach that contains private health information. 

Ivan Dunskiy: Where are the most strict regulations?

Joshua Landy: Yeah. So we've seen around the world, there are some very interesting ones. The strictest countries are, believe it or not, Saudi Arabia, for reasons you probably wouldn't think of. And South Korea.

Ivan Dunskiy: Of course.

Joshua Landy: I mean, it's just regulation, but like we had to write a special consent form for people to use in Korea. And in Saudi Arabia, there's a lot of layers around which family members are permitted and aren't permitted to give consent for images and things like that. And so your family or your own autonomy is connected to that of your family. And so there's just a lot more regulation around that. 

[26:23] What problems are experienced now in physicians-only knowledge-sharing platform Figure 1 and how to tackle and overcome them

Ivan Dunskiy: Yeah, cool. And if you could share, what problems are you experiencing now in your company that you are trying to tackle and overcome? 

Joshua Landy: Well, one of the things that we've always been working on, and this continues to be true, is we want to make sure that our app is servicing many different layers of Professional.

So we need to be able to create content for med students and residents and fellows and grad and freshly graduated doctors and also mid-career physicians. And that's our market. But you remember those are, that's what, four or five different markets, because med students need different attention than an established mid-career physician whose needs and interests are very different, but there's also every different specialty. So, I've called it the general audience problem in medicine because you want to be able to create content that is one size fits all. But that doesn't work because and so it's not just according to your level of education, but also according to your specialty.

I mean, there's no such thing as general medicine, there's primary practice, but that doesn't mean that you see just as many you know, complex bone problems as an orthopedic surgeon and the orthopedic surgeon, and he needs to see different stuff than the plastic surgeon.

And they would want to see different stuff than the critical care doctor. And a lot of these cases don't really overlap. So, you know, really, it's not coming up with one really good stream of content. You need to come up with, you know, two or three. 

Ivan Dunskiy: Yeah, and it is very diverse. Yeah, understandable.

Joshua Landy: That's a small number of people, but a wide variety of interests.

Ivan Dunskiy: Yeah. And cases, of course. What is your current primary focus in your work?

Joshua Landy: My focus personally has always been on the medical aspect. So making sure that the content seems like it would be interesting to physicians, making sure that the information we put out there is correct and trustworthy, right? This is part of the Figure 1 brand that is making sure that we have something trustworthy that people are going to find interesting but also not second-guessed. The way that the medical industry solves that generally is by putting references in documents. And we do that whenever possible.

But the truth is if you're making content for people to consume in less than five minutes, and it has to cover complex topics like what kind of vaccination regimen do you do for patients with organ transplants? It requires a lot of background knowledge, and it also requires potentially a lot of reading or a lot of references.

So being able to do that in a short period of time has been a needle that we've worked hard to thread carefully over and over again. 

Ivan Dunskiy: Well, I'm curious, do you wet all the answers manually, or is it any kind of automatic system that can help you to do that? Because I assume there was a lot of data on the platform, and how do you verify that? 

Joshua Landy: Mostly we let users help each other out in understanding what's correct and what's not. And so if someone says what's the best antibiotic for this type of infection and they'll post a picture of an infection. We're not there to make sure that every person who shows up with their own opinion is correct.

We're there to make sure that if you say something and someone asks you for a source to cite a reference, we want to hold you to that. So if someone says, where did you read that? You can't just leave it blank, and you can't say Facebook, you gotta see, you gotta give us the answer of where it, you saw it. So in a sense, it helps us manage and reduce the amount of misinformation on the platform, but the truth is that users will police themselves and will in almost every situation. One person who's more experienced than another might say, you know, I used to think this, and then I learned about this, and other people will corroborate with, you know, tens of thousands of people who can comment or interact with a case, the answers that you might consider, correct. They sort of rising to the top, just like on any platform. It just emerges from the way that people interact. Everyone's there for the same reason. 

Ivan Dunskiy: So they just upvote answers and they go up? That's the system? 

Joshua Landy: Yeah. More or less, or they'll comment, or they'll like the answer. And remember that asking your colleagues instead of asking someone in Figure 1, doesn't mean your colleague's right just because you see them in person. 

[31:11] Advice to other professionals who would like to implement technologies in the healthcare

Ivan Dunskiy: Of course. So we are coming to the end of an interview, but I have one more question. What kind of advice can you give to other professionals who would like to implement technology in healthcare?

Joshua Landy: That's a good question. I mean, the thing I said before about really making sure that your idea is actually something you can build and something that people will buy.

That, to me, is like the center of it. Because if you're obsessed with your own idea, but no one else cares about it, you are going to have a very difficult time building that business. You want to move your company forward. And I think the best way to do that is by learning the things you need to know at the next stage of your company.

So if you're at a stage where you've got a good platform of users, but you want to move into a part where you're developing your revenue for the business, that's where you need to focus your attention. So, Just like everything else in the world. There's only enough time and space to focus on one thing at a time. Do a really good job each time and move your steps in the right order. You'll be okay. I know that's general advice, but there aren't any secrets. You just have to do the work. 

Ivan Dunskiy: Yeah. But you mentioned, for example, having just one answer is not enough, but being an experienced entrepreneur, how many answers do you need to validate your idea? Or like how much traction do you need to understand that? Yes, that's something available, and we need to move on with it. 

Joshua Landy: Yeah, that's a good question. I think it honestly depends on how much time you have to spend on it, just like everything else. This is a resource constraint. You can do research for five years and get the right answer. But no, one's going to give you funding to research an answer for five years without doing anything else. So maybe I'll just give you an example and leave you with that. We wondered if there was a market to have patients put their medical problems on Figure 1 and have them sorted out by the doctors and nurses there.

And so we built a website that said welcome to, and we gave it a name. It was a different health service that didn't have the Figure 1 brand on it. And it just said, are you interested in putting your problems in front of our telehealth team? That'll give you answers 24 hours a day, et cetera.

And we actually put. We advertise that on Facebook. We built ads with our fake website, our fake telehealth company, and we even collected people's demographic information to see who would sign up. And we put it up for a couple of weeks, and not that many people saw.

And so we just said, all right, like there's not an automatic business in making this pivot, everybody goes back to work. And so that was a way that we sort of taught ourselves a lesson by just asking the question in the most direct and obvious way possible: are people doing this and that worked. So we moved on.

[34:03] Rapid Fire Round (3 questions)

Ivan Dunskiy: Yeah. I think that's very valuable advice for early-stage entrepreneurs who want to validate their idea. Yeah. Appreciate that. I'd like to end each interview on a little lighter exercise called a rapid-fire round. I will ask you several questions, and you can give answers to whatever you come up with.

Joshua Landy: Okay. Sounds good. 

Ivan Dunskiy: So you mentioned that you like to make ice cream. What ice cream do you like to make and for who? 

Joshua Landy: It's something I learned how to do because I had the best ice cream I ever ate when I was in San Francisco for a business trip. And so I decided I must learn how to do it. My favorite flavor that I've seen elsewhere, but in my mind, I invented it is a green tea, matcha flavored ice cream with Oreo cookies in it.

Ivan Dunskiy: Wow. 

Joshua Landy: And it's green, and it's got pieces of Oreo, and it's just absolutely wonderful. And I make that for friends who like those flavors on their birthdays. 

Ivan Dunskiy: Okay, cool. Instead of barbecue. What is the location that impressed you the most? 

Joshua Landy: What do you mean? 

Ivan Dunskiy: Like, where did you go to travel that impressed you the most?

Joshua Landy: That's a good question. I don't know. I'm struggling to even come up. I mean, there are hundreds of examples of interesting and amazing things that I think that I've seen, but nothing specific comes to mind. 

Ivan Dunskiy: Maybe that is one in the future. 

Joshua Landy: Yeah. I guess there'll be a further thing to think about when I go traveling next time.

Ivan Dunskiy: Okay. And the last one is what is the one piece of advice you would give to your 20 years old self? 

Joshua Landy: Um, I think when I was 20, I'd probably been very Concerned with trying to make sure that people liked me and thought that I was funny. And I think if I could go back and give myself the advice, I would tell myself not to worry about that because in the end, like that never mattered to any decision that was important to me. Whether people liked me or thought I was funny. But I did definitely lose the opportunity to be friends with people, or I ruined the opportunity to impress somebody because I thought I was doing what I was supposed to be, trying really hard to be likable. And it's taken a long time, but now I don't really care if people like me and people like me, even more than they used to. So I don't know what to say about that. 

Ivan Dunskiy: Yeah, it's just better to be yourself. 

Joshua Landy: Yeah. I mean, mostly I didn't know what that meant, right. Be yourself. Like, I'm still figuring out what it means to just be myself. But mostly, the best way to do that, I found, is just to stop trying to be yourself and just hang out.

Ivan Dunskiy: Cool. I think that's a perfect way to end today's interview. Thank you, Joshua, for your time and that you shared so much for listeners. I think that your lessons would be valuable for early-stage startups and your thoughts about launching products in healthcare. But before we finish, what is the best way to get in touch with you so that people can connect?

Joshua Landy: Yeah, sure. So if you want to connect with me, you can connect with me on LinkedIn, or you can connect with me on Twitter. You can find me at Joshua Landy on Twitter at Joshua Landy, one on Tik Tok, and just Joshua Landy on LinkedIn. Hit me up with your questions. Happy to chat. Talk any time.

Ivan Dunskiy: Yeah, cool. I will also include all the links in the resources section. Thank you, Joshua. Thank you all listeners. And that's the end of today's episode and catch you on the next ones.

Who is behind the HealthTech Beat podcast

We are a team of IT professionals who like sharing technical knowledge with healthcare industry people.

At Demigos, we generate ideas on how to improve product performance, design, and positioning based on our experience building complex health tech solutions.

Check our blog with articles on the related topics: https://demigos.com/blog/.

And our cases in healthtech: https://demigos.com/healthtech/.

Connect the podcast’ host and the CEO of Demigos Ivan Dunskiy on Linkedin:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/ivan-dunskiy-73719368/.

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