21 September, 2020
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In our first episode ”Using Technology to Save Lives” on September 10, 2020, we had Emi Gal (Co-founder and CEO of Ezra) in a conversation with Ondrej Bartos (General Partner at Credo Ventures).
This is the story of Emi Gal, from building his first startup back in college to finding a new way to screen for cancer using MRI & AI, with Ezra. One of the first to believe in him was Ondrej Bartos, his investor in his first major exit – Brainient (acquired by Teads). Ondrej continues to support Emi’s endeavours until this day with Ezra, making their business relationship spanning over 10 years.
Emi and Ondrej shared how Ezra is planning to democratize MRI scanning and some never before heard insights on their long-term founder-investor relationship. Here is a sneak peek into their live discussion:
Watch the full discussion on our YouTube channel here.
Listen to the full discussion on Spotify and soon on Apple Podcasts too.
3 takeaways from Emi and Ondrej’s live discussion:
►”It’s easier to raise large amounts of money in the US than it is in Europe”, said Emi. ”Europe is getting more competitive on the venture side, but it is nowhere close to where the US venture capital market is”, Ondrej added.
►”When looking for a co-founder I wanted someone who was an academic, proven to know how to build deep learning architectures in medical imaging. Also a great engineer, not a researcher, and someone that I felt I can work with.”, revealed Emi.
►”It was shocking to me to see how much capital was in New York alone” – Emi talking about what stroke him at first after moving to New York.
Watch and Listen to the full episode to get your own takeaways!
Next How to Web Live episode is on September 24 starting 5 PM EEST, with Bob Moesta – lifelong innovator and co-architect of the Jobs-to-be-Done theory. Find out about Bob Moesta’s newest book – Demand-Side Sales 101 – and how you can apply the Jobs-to-be-Done framework to sell more, in a live conversation with Valentin Radu (Omniconvert CEO, speaker and podcaster).
Are you more into Reading? The Full Transcript is below!
Ondrej: I felt there was something in this kid that was worth monitoring. So we stayed in touch. The rest is history. I invested in his second startup. Now I invested in his third startup. And I guess we’ll be talking about those later on. So welcome, Emi. Please do your short introduction, if you will.
Emi: Thank you, Ondrej. And it’s great to be here. It’s my very first zoom conference. And I actually used to go to How to Web back in the day when I was in London and Bucharest. And I’m excited. As Ondrej mentioned, we know each other. He sometimes says that we’ve known each other since I was in kindergarten. Not entirely true. I was I think 19 when we met and I actually vividly remember the day we met. You flew in from Prague to Romania for this event. And I looked at all of the people who were like in the jury for the competition at the event and I emailed everybody and the only one who responded was Ondrej. So right before the event, we had a coffee at Marriott in Bucharest and I showed Ondrej all that I was working on and he was like ”you know you need to focus”. And then, you know, that’s been a constant theme over the past decade or 13 years that we’ve known each other. And it’s been a wonderful partnership in two startups now. So I’m excited about talking about those today. As for me, as you know, as Ondrej briefly mentioned, I’m on my third or really second real startup. And I currently run Ezra out of New York. A startup that’s creating a new way to screen for cancer using MRI and AI. And we’ll probably dive a little bit deeper into that over the next hour. So excited to be here and excited to take on your questions.
Ondrej: Great, great. Thanks for the intro. So as we had mentioned, the first startup I invested in, founded by me was Brainient. And that was, I believe, back in 2011, or 2012. Yeah. 2011. And that was a tech advertising technology startup. Now, you know, probably many people know the story. We managed to sell it to Teads, which is one of the global leaders in video advertising. So we did well, at the end, you joined Teads as CMO, I believe, and moved to New York. And then all of a sudden… Well, not really true. We stayed in touch but all of a sudden, Emi starts a new startup, which is not adtech, and it’s not quite, you know, simple tech or whatever. But it’s health tech. Can you share a bit about your journey from Romania and London over to, you know, saving lives as the headline says?
Emi: Yeah. So you know, the the kind of the full backstory is that Brainient was originally like an outsourcing software development shop and we were just building software for others. From Romania, where this kind of software development was still very, very cheap. And,
Ondrej: And the episode with brain TV, right.
Emi: Smart, yeah. We started making some money with Brainient, then I was like ”What do I do?” And of course, you launch an online TV channel for smart people, which was, I think, still the dumbest idea I’ve ever had. Top three. Yeah, the second would be just taking money from you. And, and brain TV was obviously a failure. But there was one interesting thing that came out of it, which is that I learned that there were no good video ad servers out there. So Brainient morphed into building an interactive video ad server that took me to London to raise money from Seedcamp, Ondrej and a number of funds and investors in London and then spent really, seven years building that and selling it. And we sold it in 2016. To Teads as Ondrej mentioned. I was at Teads for about a year and a half. And even before we sold to Teads, I kind of had an interest in cancer. And the interest stemmed from two areas. One I’m personally at high risk for melanoma because I have a couple of hundred moles on my body. That puts me in the highest risk bracket. And so from a very young age, I’ve had to get screened for melanoma. And when I was a kid, I actually had a scare because I they found a mole that was looked abnormal turned out to be fine, but it kind of it was lingering in the back of my mind that screening is important. And then in 2014, I think a friend introduced me to a nonprofit in Romania called Hospice of Hope, who built and operated hospices that care for cancer patients. And so I started volunteering for them, helping them out with digital stuff. And while being involved with Hospice, I realized that most people who end up dying from cancer die because they were detected late. So I started looking at why so many people are detected late and realized it’s because there is no way to screen for cancer everywhere in the body that’s fast, accurate and affordable. This was 2015 or so and so when I Like the day I we sold brainy into tea that was like, my next company is going to be around cancer and cancer screening. So I started researching and speaking to, like physicians and scientists and reading a lot of papers. And it was actually, on my honeymoon that I was reading research papers. This is November 2016. That I was reading, obviously, as you do you read research papers on your honeymoon, and I know everybody that way, of course, no, it’s husband of the year right here. Um, and I stumbled upon this paper that was comparing MRI with CT and ultrasound and x-rays and other medical imaging modalities. In terms of accuracy for detecting cancer, this paper was concluding overwhelmingly that MRI is better. So I started doing a bit of research. And I was like ”Why isn’t everybody doing an MRI every year?” And realize that it’s because MRI is very expensive as a medical imaging modality. So decided to start a company that uses AI and technology to make MRI based cancer screening more affordable. And that’s how as I started.
Ondrej: It’s a cute story, but just to dig a little deeper… What interests me and then I’m not sure I’ve ever asked that question is, was it like? Was it a coincidence? I understand you’re sort of relating to cancer patients. And, you know, the passion for detecting cancer early or curing cancer, even I know, you’ve had thoughts about curing cancer as well. But was it like a coincidence that led you to, you know, figuring out that it could be technology helping in the early detection? Or was it like your intention to find technology that can help with early cancer detection?
Emi: Yeah, so it was actually a very kind of deliberate process that I ran to find the right technology to detect cancer early. And actually, the full body, I was just shortcutting it earlier, but the full body MRI idea was the 12th idea that I had, like I had all these crazy ideas from DNA base nanobots that you would put in the bloodstream in order to bind to known cancer genes. Digital microfiber.
Ondrej: Yeah, that was probably also top three dumbest ideas.
Emi: Yes, yeah, it might work in the distant future. But like I, I basically decided that I was going to focus on cancer and focus on cancer screening and spent about 18 months cycling through about a dozen ideas. And my process was that I would like read books, read papers, and then speak to when I felt comfortable in a certain topic, I would email the best scientist in that space, and I would have a call or a meeting with them. And 11 times, people were like, Nope, that’s not going to work, or that’s going to work. But it’s going to work in five to 10 years. And then when I stumbled upon MRI, and full-body MRI, the more people I spoke to who knew a lot more about the space than I did, the more convinced I became that it could work. And I didn’t actually commit to it until to it as a full-body MRI idea until I had spoken to probably like a dozen scientists in the space, who are like, yep, if you could make MRI cheap, it would be amazing because it doesn’t use radiation. So you could do on every day, and you’d be fine. And it has high sensitivity and specificity. If only you could do it in like less than an hour in order to drive costs down. So then my focus shifted into Okay, how can we build a protocol that enables us to scan people in less than an hour. And then I obviously I have a computer science background, but I don’t have a medical imaging or deep learning AI background. So I spent nine months finding a co-founder and I basically went through about two and a half thousand profiles of medical imaging, deep learning experts in the world. I reached out to about 300 153 respondents, I know the number because I tracked it in like a CRM. And then I had 90 interviews of nine months and I selected four people that I took through a three-month project that I paid for. And from all that process, Diego, who’s my co-founder at Ezra, who’s based in Toronto, was by far the best person and Diego’s did a bachelor’s, master’s PhD and postdoc in machine learning applied to medical imaging, and his doctoral thesis was in detecting, or predicting epileptic seizures in MRI scans. And for children. So I ended up with Diego, who is perfect.
Ondrej: Perfect match. Yeah, I know, both your co-founder and your wife, you have found yourself good matches perfectly. So, I mean to, I have witnessed, you know, both of your serious startups. And, I mean, I sort of feel like, your path from Brainient. And Ezra is a path from, you know, sort of this startup type of technology in search for a use case, over to a startup with a use case, in search for the technology, which, you know, in my view, is, is a lot better thing. You know, especially in Central Eastern Europe, we see so many technologies in search of, you know, a business model use case, you know, customer, you know, product market fit and stuff like that, and we see so few sort of use cases that, you know, are in search and search for technology. Do you agree?
Emi: Yeah, you know, I think the best startups always have a North Star, you know, in the North Star is very, very clear. And then they’re just like, finding tech to satisfy that the path towards that North Star, which was not the case with brainy and I kind of fell into ad tech. And with Ezra is very deliberate, it was like, we have a mission. And the mission is very clear. And it’s to detect cancer early for everyone in the world. So that’s kind of that drives all of our efforts in terms of finding technologies that can get us there.
Ondrej: So what technology saves people’s lives after all?
Emi: MRI, as I mentioned, have very high sensitivity and specificity, which are the two measures of accuracy for screening tests for detecting cancer and pretty much all the major vital organs in the body. The problem with MRI is that it’s expensive to acquire a scan because a full-body MRI before as raw used to take about three hours used to cost about 10 to $15,000. And then it’s it’s expensive to interpret the scan. So like having radiologists reading the scan. And so what we decided was to use AI to decrease the interpretation time and decrease the scanning time. And we started with prostate, so we wanted to show that for a single organ in MRI we can build an AI that can make the radiologists more efficient and potentially more accurate. So we built an AI that assists radiologists when interpreting MRI images of the prostate in order to help those radiologists be much faster. And the AI basically automates a number of the things that they do manually, such as measuring the volume of the prostate, the size of a lesion, segmenting the lesion if there is one in order to prepare for biopsy, and all of those, so reading a prostate scan, without as raw takes a radiologist about 20 to 25 minutes, with as right takes five to 10 minutes. And so we’re improving the interpretation time substantially, which decreases the cost. And then what we’re also working on is building API’s that will be used to decrease the scanning time even further, our current full body scan is an hour. And we were working on making it even faster. And sometime next year, we think we’ll be able to deliver a full body MRI that will take just 30 minutes.
Ondrej: Cool. Very, very cool. Glad to hear. So I just have one last question. Before we start taking questions from the audience. If there is an audience, maybe it’s just us too, but it will be a great conversation. But just one more question. So I couldn’t help but notice that you know, there are a couple of investors that have been at Brainient and also joined in Ezra, and, you know, I’m kind of guessing it was not a coincidence or accident, but you went to certain people, before others. So I guess what I’m trying to ask is, what do you look for in an investor? And, you know, how many of your previous investors did you go to when fundraising for Ezra?
Emi: I’ll answer the second question. First, I all of the investors in Brainient, that I invited into Ezra joined the round. And and that’s, I think it was about about nine investor that investors that were brilliant investors that I brought into Ezra as well, there were a couple of that I didn’t invite. And so there’s that. And what I look in for invest as a founder is I look for an investor who is always there to help the founder when needed, who also stays out of the way when not needed, but that also keeps the founder accountable to like, deliver results, whatever the metric for measuring success is. And and I, you know, I’ll say something, and I’m not saying it just because of the interview with Ondrej. But Ondrej is my very favorite investor in the entire world. Like there’s a reason why we’ve been working together for more than a decade, which is that Ondrej really like is always there for the founder, doesn’t stays out of the way when when not needed, but also manages to keep me always in check and stay focused and, and make sure that I’m like committed to delivering results. So it’s just been a wonderful partnership. And I strongly encourage everyone on this call who is looking for money to send Ondrej an email, because he’s really one of the best ones, or the best one for me, one of the best ones in general. And that shows investments in Ezra UiPath, etc.
Ondrej: I think I can confirm that. Anyway, let’s move on to questions from the audience. There’s a question from Vlad. Is it different raising money in the US compared to Europe? If it is, how different is it?
Emi: I’ve now raised money in both locations for Brainient. They raise money only in Europe and for Sri raised money only in the US, even though I brought investors from Europe into the round. And the main difference that I’ve seen is that investors in Europe are very, for the most part, I don’t want to generalize, but they’re very focused on the revenue numbers. And, you know, is the company growing revenue? investors in the US are very focused on is this company building great technology with a great team in a large market? And do we think that this could be successful, and they don’t care as much about the revenue traction, especially in the early stages, which was pretty different from what I was seeing with, with Brainient. In Europe. The second thing I’ve noticed is that there’s a lot more density of investors of all kinds from very early stage to a very late stage in the US. So I think it’s easier to raise or at least easier to raise large amounts of money in the US than it is in Europe, as well, we’ve now raise $22 million across our seed and series A. And I don’t think that would have raised that much money if I would have done it in Europe.
Ondrej: And one of the reasons is, is that, you know, Europe is getting more and more competitive on the venture side, but it’s nowhere close to how competitive the US market is. So, you know, if we look back at brainian, what, what happened at each of the rounds was basically, we, we managed to get one term sheet right? For a lead investor. At Ezra, I believe, at series A, we had three or four term sheets on the table that we were able to pick from, right. Yep. And that’s basically the difference. So you know, competition is good.
Emi: In my experience in the us is that it’s very much a founders market. It because there there, there are a lot of investors finding for the best deals. Whereas in Europe, it’s more of an investor’s market. Because the really, really, really good deals are actually not as many. So investors have options in Europe, whereas founders have options in the US.
Ondrej: Another question is, how important is for a health tech startup to put their technology at use in times of crisis? And did the development of COVID-360 slowed down other products?
Emi: COVID was actually pretty tough for us as a company, because we went from, you know, scanning hundred people plus a month, before COVID, to scanning zero people during COVID. Because we didn’t want to put people at risk. And we didn’t want to, we weren’t actually able to scan people for about three months. It was two full months was actually the twofold, one, the zero and one with some revenue. And then we started scanning people in June again. And so what we did is we we tried adapting to see how we can actually help healthcare in the US, especially during COVID. And we, we use our knowledge and our technology and so on to launch a lung scan that was targeted at people who had had COVID, in order to see whether there is any potential long-term damage on their lungs caused by COVID. And, and that worked out well. And what we’re now seeing is, people who’ve had COVID are coming to get an extra full body MRI, because there’s recent research to show that it impacts your heart, it impacts your kidneys, liver. And so you really want to get a look inside your body. If you’ve had COVID to make sure that there’s nothing long lasting that could impair your health. We still have it, like we still offer a long long scan for, for members. us, what we’ve noticed is that because people have had COVID, and they’re coming to us, right to get scanned, and as well as out of pocket pay, people are like, is this covered by insurance? And if it’s not, they’re less likely to buy it because they’re used to have insurance covering things that are related to ongoing care, which is different from screening where people don’t expect screening to be covered by by insurance or not, to the extent that that Ezra does it. So we’ve actually seen a lot more people who were initially expressing interest in COVID-360, to sign up for the full body because they’re like, well, if I’m gonna pay, I may as well pay for the bells and whistles.
Ondrej: Can we talk a little about what the price is for Ezra MRI scan? And where do you plan to take it as a prize for sort of more mass audience, and if it ever will be covered by insurance?
Emi: Our current price is around $2,000. So we have two packages as a full body plus, which is a full body MRI plus a chest CT of the lungs, because that’s the best way to screen for lung cancer. And you can also pay monthly for $220 a month. And then we have the extra full body which is 1950. And you can also pay monthly, and then we have some more affordable packages. Our goal is to use AI and technology to improve our unit economics in order to decrease the scanning time, decrease interpretation time, improve efficiency. And we think that long term, we will actually be able to get down to a 30 minute MRI, at which point we will be able to offer the full body for about $1,000 don’t have a like a timeframe for when we’ll be able to deliver that but it’s in the works. And at one point we will deliver it we know what needs to be done and we’re doing it It’s just like, very hard to pull off. So, so we’re still working on it. Okay, as for any insurance, that we think insurance will cover it like it at around $1,000, it starts making financial sense for insurers to offer it to their patients. Because early cancer detection, cost the insurance much less to treat than late cancer detection. So like, I’ll give breast as an example, treating an early stage breast cancer is just about surgery, which is about $50,000 in the US, treating a lead late stage breast cancer with chemo and radiotherapy, and so on, can go upwards of a million dollars. So we’re talking, you know, orders of magnitude more expensive. Therefore, insurance companies are very incentivized to find cancer early.
Ondrej: And not to talk just about money. We can also talk about the risks or actually chances for recovery, which are radically different for us, you know, early detected cancer and late detected cancer. Can you tell like that?
Emi: Late stage cancer has 20%, five year survival, right? So stage three plus three for metastatic cancer, very few people survive, unfortunately, early stage cancer. So stage 011 plus two has an 80%, average survival rate, five year survival rate. So really, you really want to make sure that if you ever get cancer, you find it early. And unfortunately, one in three people on average, and actually for men, one in two men will get cancer during the life. And so it’s not as much will I ever get cancer? It’s like, when will I get cancer? And will I find it?
Ondrej: Okay, we have another question, which is explain a little bit about how is the product development in a healthcare startup? Can you talk about product development?
Emi: Yeah, it’s actually very hard, especially if you have to build software that needs to be approved by the FDA or cleared by the FDA. FDA is like the Federal Drug Administration, it regulates any software, medical device or drug that gets to be used by by individuals. And when you’re building something that needs to be cleared by the FDA, you need to have very, very thorough quality systems in place, very, very thorough cybersecurity, very, very thorough kind of data practices. And so as a result of that, developing things in healthcare, if you want to do it, right, which you have to if you want to get clearances, is much slower than just like ad tech development. You know, in AD tech, we can just like, build something, deploy it the next day. And that’s it with our API is if we want to publish a new version of the API, we need to send a letter to the FDA, we need to, you know, get the FDA to Ok, the data, etc. So it’s a much more involved process, therefore, it’s much slower, and it costs a lot more, because you have to have layers of teams that are just responsible with with quality and Regulatory Affairs, which is I’ve learned the hard way that it takes much longer than you expect as a kind of first time healthcare found.
Ondrej: That’s the downside of a startup that aims to save lives, right? Yes. It’s not just, you know, if people see the ad, or they don’t, because you know, nothing happens.
Emi: And if you miss one, it’s it’s really, it’s, it’s pretty bad. And so we put a big emphasis on just taking our time and as want to make sure that we do it right.
Ondrej: Going back for for a little bit to your co founder. So you were talking about this, you know, finding a co founder process that you that you took, which is a very thorough and well thought through process. And my question here is, did you really just look for the expertise and competence or did you also have some kind of set of values in mind, or did you also look for the right culture and fit to you or what was your thinking around this?
Emi: I actually I had a I had a very well defined criteria. Yeah, the first one is I wanted someone who’s an academic who’s like proven to know how to build deep learning. architectures in medical imaging. And that’s like a very, very narrow, well defined criteria. The second was I actually wanted someone who’s also a great engineer, so that they can build, like production ready systems. And they’re not just like a researcher. And three, I really wanted someone that I felt I could work with. And that’s a little bit more kind of, I didn’t define it with like, XYZ, but I could feel it in working with people, which is why I designed a process where I was reading their papers to see if they’re any good on paper. I was then working with them for three months, which would tell me you know, can they write code? That is good enough? And can I work with them? Actually, from the four that I spoke with, there were a couple that were really, really good, technically, but I was like, I don’t know that I would enjoy working with this person. And I kind of lucked out with Diego, because, you know, it was, we get along incredibly well were like, very complimentary skills, incredible. Scientist, and great engineer, so like, it ended up being the perfect complement for me.
Ondrej: He’s incredibly patient, which is a must working with you. So we have another question which complements this topic, which is what type of culture do you target as well? And is the hiring process of each employee as performance driven, as was the selection of your co-founder?
Emi: So the first question, what type of culture is we really want to and we define it from day one, because it’s like I was, I was second time founder, and I knew how important culture is. And we were constantly iterating on it, but we wanted a culture that focuses on people who are entrepreneurial, or kind of take initiative, and a culture of people who just like, are not assholes, you know, people that you would want to spend your time with, and, and kind of brainstorm and write code, etc. And, and a culture of like experts, we have, we have seven PhDs on our team, ranging from like breast cancer, to prostate cancer to, to deep learning experts in MRI, CT, etc. We have 22 scientific advisors who are not as dry employees, but our advisors who help us across all of the different projects that we work on. And we were very deliberate about about that culture from day one. And then we do run not as intense a process for every single new hire. But I do believe that our head of talent, Dave, screens, about 100 people for every single person we hire. And so actually, Dave was the first hire Diego and I made because we really wanted to, to interview a ton of people before we decide who we bring on board for every single role. And we’re a team of 30 now, and we’ve done a pretty good job hiring people, like we’ve made some mistakes, because mistakes always happen. But the quality overall is really, really high. It’s the best team I’ve ever worked with.
Ondrej: Yeah, I mean, Diego is great. We never shouted him. Anyway. Um, another question from Alexei, what were the first thing, things that stroke you as a startup founder when you move to the United States? What are the differences between the and, and let me like, let me open this topic by saying that I wanted to go to the US already at Brainient. And his board stopped him a couple of times. Which, by the way, looking back, might have been a big mistake. That’s a different topic. Let’s keep it for another conference. So back to the question… What struck you as you know, most different in the US from Europe?
Emi: The first thing that that struck me was how culturally different the West is from from Europe, you know, I’m like Romanian from Eastern Europe, we tend to be very direct. And if we don’t like something, we say we don’t like something, and we do it as directly as we see fit. The West is very different. It’s like, everything is great, everything is wonderful people never give good direct feedback. And people actually expect that direct feedback will not be given to them. And so that was a bit of a shock initially, and it took a bit of adjusting, because I would be my direct self. And I learned in the US that in both investors and team members and partners and so on. And so I’ve tend to slow that down a little bit. And then the other thing is, like how much more money there isn’t investors capital is in the US, compared to Europe, it was initially it was, it was shocking to me to see how much capital there is. In New York alone in the perimeter, five blocks, there are like four funds that each have hundreds of millions of dollars to deploy over the next four years. And they need to deploy it like the investors gave them that capital in order to give it to startups, hopefully doing it well. But like they have to deploy that capital. So that was also it took a bit of adjusting, and I have a lot of founder friends who are in London. And we’re like, you know, it’s a world apart in terms of access to large amounts of money in the US compared to Europe.
Ondrej: And on that note, there’s another question, which is, do you think it is more difficult to build AI based solutions for healthcare in the US compared to Europe? Or is it easier? And also, do you plan to approach the EU market?
Emi: It’s harder. So we have a quality and Regulatory Affairs expert at Ezra who has worked on both FDA clearances and EC clearances, which are kind of the European clearances you need for medical devices. And the FDA has a much higher level of regulatory scrutiny than the EU. I think the only area where the EU might have like more stringent regulation is around data privacy and security with all the GDP stuff. But from a regulatory perspective, the US is kind of the the hardest market, which is in a way good because if you succeed in the US, then it’s not necessarily easier, but like more straightforward to get EU clearances. And we plan to be in in globally. So we plan to be in Europe at one point as well.
Ondrej: Yeah. He wants to basically conquer the world. It’s not it doesn’t start stop in the US. It starts there, but starts here. Don’t stop there. So in his wild dreams, it’s, you know, you name everywhere, China, Russia, Australia, whatever, by Monday. Um, well, yeah. ASAP. Let’s go. How is New York these days? And, you know, I’ve been trying to avoid the, you know, COVID situation topic, but I was New York.
Emi: The rumors about New York ending are greatly exaggerated. It’s like, it was hard during during COVID for the first few months, and they was hard because they were like, a protest because of police brutality in the US against black people. And then he was, the summer came in summer in New York. It’s like super hot and humid and like unpleasant. And everything was shut down for for a few months. So it was like it was easy to go on the street. And like on Fifth Avenue, and there was no one around it. Everything is now kind of reopened. So restaurants have reopened, museums, bars, cafes. The only thing that hasn’t really reopened in New York are offices. So like other than people not having to commute back into New York all the time to go to their office. Everything is seems to be back to some more normality. And I’m a huge fan of New York. I think it’s the best city in the world. So I’m enjoying it here, even though the past few months were pretty difficult.
Ondrej: Well, let’s just hope New York stays the best city in the world. There are definitely voices who claim that it’s that it’s losing theposition. But anyway, it’s not the first rodeo for New York in terms of like hard things now from, you know, where September 10. Tomorrow, September 11. So the city’s been through many hard periods. And it’s always come back. So I have a high degree of confidence that’s going to happen. There’s a bunch of questions around the AI and, you know, the tech behind Azra, I don’t think we’ll have time to go through them. Just probably to sum up. Are you planning to be active in terms of issuing white papers or researches? Are you up for FDA clearance of anything? You know, where are you there? Yeah, so we work with scientific community.
Emi: So you know, as I mentioned, we have seven PhDs on our team, my co founder is a postdoc is published very well cited papers around medical imaging and deep learning. Ezra, we published two papers. Last year, we were we presented at the computer assisted radiology and surgery conference, which is kind of one of the large conferences in medical imaging. And, and we have two FDA clearances that we’ll have announcements about over the next, like six to 12 months. And, and we have an entire kind of regulatory team now that ensures that everything we do from an AI perspective satisfies regulatory body screwing, which is really, really hard to do. And I’m really proud of what our team has managed to achieve on that front.
Ondrej: Okay, I am too. Um, and another question is, what is your advice to a startup from Romania that is at the beginning, and let’s do address to global market? Should they choose a couple of countries or make it worldwide? What should they do?
Emi: Yeah, so the first thing is do like, have a North Star. So choose a problem to solve more so than a technology. And this is kind of to Andres point earlier, I can’t stress how important that is, because that Northstar then kind of guides all of your decisions and helps you know, where you’re heading, you know, and if you’re just starting with the technology and trying to find an application for that technology, you don’t necessarily know where you’re heading. That’s first, the second one, I think it’s much easier to succeed if the founding team or at least the founder, CEO, is in one of the big hubs in the world, and lives in one of the big hubs like London, Berlin, New York, San Francisco, LA, probably others, but these are the main ones that you can, like, you’ll have to work really hard irrespective of whether in Bucharest or one of these cities, but you’ll have a much higher probability of success if you’re in one of these cities. And from Romania, it’s probably easiest to go to London or Berlin as the first step. with the caveat that if you want to build a global company, at the end of the day, you have to be in the US the the biggest European success that I know of closely and that Ondrej knows of even more closely his his UiPath and Daniel (Dines n.a.), and they would not have succeeded if Daniel would not have looked into New York, to the extent that they did.
Ondrej: I couldn’t agree more. It’s in my head. When when I’m asked this question, in my head, it’s always I mean, there is no local or regional business, there’s business. So you know, if you want to, if you’re in it for, for a cause, if you have this Northstar, if you want to solve a real problem, then you know, your playing field is global. And I mean, sometimes in some situations, it might be useful to start in the market or to market the test waters. But in general, I would urge people to start global from day one with the mindset with the sort of language availability customer service, just you know, go global, and then and only then you can become a UiPath or an Ezra or a TypingDNA or you know, other other of our cool portfolio. Okay, it’s time for the last question. And I guess I’m gonna pick plans for the future with Ezra, and how much is Ezra mission personal to you?
Emi: So I’ll start with the sick one. Ezra mission is very personal to me, you know, I’ve I am personally at risk for cancer, as I mentioned earlier for melanoma. So I, I have always felt like a connection to this space. And, you know, since we launched as Rob, we’ve scanned, under 1000 people, we’ve helped 42 people find cancer, and some of these people have now gotten treatment, and they are cancer free. And just a couple of weeks ago, I got an email from a member who is 36. And he just got a scan because a friend of his had had cancer. And he was like, concerned, he didn’t have any symptoms. And we found that he had a brain tumor, and he had surgery, he doesn’t have a brain tumor anymore. And his doctors told him that, if not for Ezra, he would not have found it for five to 10 years until it would have become symptomatic, and at which point he would have been late. And this guy is, you know, 36 with a nine month old child at home. So that really makes the mission very, very personal when you when I hear those stories, and I’m like we’re we’re actually helping people. In terms of plans for the future. Our mission is really to detect cancer early for everyone in the world. And that’s our North Star. And we will invest in technology across any spectrum from imaging to other types of tests in order to achieve that vision. And if you look at the numbers, 18 million people every year find cancer, and about half of them find cancer late so on 9 million people this year will detect cancer late. And we want those people to detect cancer early. And so to get there, we’re probably going to have to screen 50 to 100 million people a year because we’re obviously not going to find cancer early for everybody we scan or screen. And that’s our North Star. You know, when we when we get to finding cancer early for 9 million people. That’s when we know we’ll have a two star mission.
Ondrej: And we love that mission and vision. It is personal for me as well. Not that me was not instrumental reason for me to invest in Ezra, but also my father was diagnosed with prostate cancer late so you know, he did not survive the five year horizon. So I feel quite passionate about about that as well. And that is that is the main reason why I wish Ezra all the best. Not just to become rich, or richer. Anyway, this was the last point I believe that’s that’s the right one. Thank you, Emi.
Emi: Thank you, Ondrej.
Ondrej: And I’ll see you next week at the board meeting.
Emi: Of course, I’m used to it.
Ondrej: Thanks, everybody. We’ll see you soon hopefully in person.
Emi: Thanks, everyone. Have a good day.
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