We started snap40 because of our core belief in the preciousness of human life and the desire to protect it. Building a startup in healthcare from nothing is hard, impossibly hard. That’s why today is particularly special — we announced an $8 million seed round, and it’s believed to be the largest seed funding round ever in the U.K. health tech space.
What’s also special is that our new investors — led by ADV and with participation from MMC Ventures — are equally mission-driven and believe in building a company that can fundamentally change how we deliver healthcare as a society. Through our wearable device, we offer a complete picture of human health, and we apply AI to that real-time data to identify health deterioration earlier.
We’re scaling quickly — by the end of this year, we’ll be 50 strong. We were just five at the start of 2016. What’s most important for us when looking at a new person joining our team is their belief in our mission, a love of learning and an open, critical mind that always challenges assumptions and the status quo. We’re growing our team both in Edinburgh and in New York. (By the way, if you want to solve some of the hardest technical and product challenges imaginable — we’d love to know you.)
I’m delighted that our existing investors, Par Equity and the Scottish Investment Bank, continue to support us so strongly in this round. Furthermore, my co-founder Stewart Whiting and I have always tried to surround ourselves with amazing founders we can learn from, so I’m also thrilled that a number invested in this round, including Craneware Co-Founder Gordon Craig; Skyscanner Co-Founder Gareth Williams, and Qasar Younis, former chief operating officer of YCombinator and founder of TalkBin.
As we build our company, there are two ongoing societal debates that we think about a lot:
How do we deliver high-quality, accessible healthcare in an older and growing society?
We’re getting older — the proportion of Americans aged over 65 is expected to double from just under 50 million today to 100 million by 2060. At the same time, our population is still growing. While the birth rate has slowed in the developed world, the population is expanding rapidly in the developing world. In 1950, our population was 2.5 billion. By 2014, it was 7.3 billion and by 2050 it’s projected to be nearly 10 billion.
We believe that every single human being should have access to high-quality healthcare and that this is essential to a thriving society. But the question we must ask as a society is whether we can deliver healthcare for the next 50 years as we do today? Or do we need to make changes?
What role will AI play in the future delivery of healthcare?
Anyone familiar with the hype cycle knows that artificial intelligence is at the peak of inflated expectations. Some expect AI will soon decimate the workforce and lay waste to millions of jobs. In reality, this is unlikely to happen for decades. But it would also be folly to not recognize that we live in a different societal and technological paradigm than we did 20 years ago. Companies like Google and Amazon have made available previously unfathomable levels of computation and storage at very low cost. We generate more data today than we ever have. Put another way, we create more noise today than we ever have.
Today, where AI delivers value is on repeatable, defined tasks, where there is need to leverage and apply large volumes of information. This is why, for instance, machine learning is being applied to great extent in radiology. Technology can help a single radiologist process many more images than they otherwise could (increasing throughput) by helping to identify and prioritize those scans that really need the attention of the human operator.
The future of healthcare delivery
Unless society can train and hire tens of thousands more doctors and nurses to manage demographic changes, we must multiply the efforts of our existing healthcare professionals. This is where technology comes in. A human can’t look at hundreds of thousands of data points and detect a pattern in less than one second — but a computer can.
This is why we’re building snap40. We see a future where no life is ever cut short by modifiable factors. We see a world where healthcare comes to you whenever you need it, automatically. That’s the goal we’re building toward.