Building a Digital Health Startup with Shuo Qiao of Moving Analytics

 

 

Today on the show we're joined by Shuo Qiao, Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Moving Analytics. We discuss his career path and how it earned him a spot on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list, his interest in computer science, and crossing paths with his future business partner. Dive into funding strategies, the rise and global impact of telehealth, and the future of digital health tech on this episode of From Lab to Launch.

About Shuo Qiao
Shuo Qiao is the Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Moving Analytics. Shuo earned his bachelor's degree in computer science degree from Beijing Jiaotong University and the top engineering university in India, the Indian Institute of Technology Madras. In 2013, he moved to the US to pursue his master's degree in computer science from the University of Southern California. He’s now the Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Moving Analytics, a digital health company that reduces the chance of a heart attack through digital cardiovascular disease prevention programs.

About Moving Analytics
Moving Analytics is a digital health company with the mission to conquer cardiovascular disease as the leading cause of death by empowering people with tools to adopt healthy lifestyles. They work with a multidisciplinary team of cardiologists, nurses, nutritionists, and exercise physiologists to create personalized rehab programs for heart attack patients which they can access anywhere through their mobile phones.

Links
Shuo Qiao | LinkedIn:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/shuo-qiao-0b813452/

Moving Analytics:
https://www.movinganalytics.com/

Forbes 30 Under 30:
https://www.forbes.com/30-under-30/2018/healthcare/

Qualio website:
https://www.qualio.com/

Previous episodes:
https://www.qualio.com/from-lab-to-launch-podcast

Apply to be on the show:
https://forms.gle/uUH2YtCFxJHrVGeL8

Music by keldez 

Transcript

Transcript is automatically generated. Please kindly excuse any grammatical and spelling errors.   

Amanda Hagar: 

Hey, everyone. Thanks for joining us today on from Lab to Launch. I'm Amanda from Qualio. I'm stepping in for Kelly today, and it's a delight to be with you. If you haven't already please subscribe and give us a review on Apple or Spotify. We'd love that. And it helps people find the show. If you wanna be on the show, please see the application linked in the show notes. We've had many entrepreneurs reach out and we love connecting with. Joining us today, we have Shuo Qiao. Shuo grew up in China and earned his computer science degree from the top engineering university in India, the Indian Institute of Technology Madras. In 2013, he moved to the U.S. to pursue his master's degree in computer science from the University of Southern California. He's now the Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Moving Analytics, a digital health company that reduces the chance of a heart attack through digital cardiovascular disease prevention programs. They work with a multidisciplinary team of cardiologists, nurses, nutritionists, and exercise physiologists to create personalized rehab programs for heart attack patients, which they can access anywhere through their mobile phones. Personalized medicine and mobile healthcare have the potential to help millions who may be outside the reach of traditional treatment avenues. Moving Analytics' personalized programs. Cut the risk of a second heart attack in half while doubling the likelihood that a heart attack survivor will live beyond five years. Check out our show notes to find additional info about Moving Analytics and learn more about Shuo. Let's bring him! Hey Shuo. Welcome to the show.

Shuo Qiao: 

Thanks for the invitation

Amanda Hagar: 

Well, we love to learn about our guest backgrounds and yours is really impressive. Mm-hmm you recently were featured on the Forbes 30 under 30 list. Congratulations.

Shuo Qiao: 

Thank you. Thank you.

Amanda Hagar: 

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your interest in life science.

Shuo Qiao: 

Of course, you know, you know, as you know, I grew up in China and you know, I did actually my bachelor in, in China and I had the chance to exchange to India. Where I studied at, IT Madras where I meet my co-founder Harsh there. And then, during that time, I think I should come to U.S. And I mean, I'm attracted by, you know, all the knowledge science and technology in the U.S. And then I decide to come to U.S. and I came to the U. S., came to USC to study for my master degree and met Harsh again. Which is my co-founder. I met, another co-founder here as well, Ade. And during that time we just, you know, want to do a startup together. Also, you. We found probably the life science, especially healthcare app is what, where we want to go for. And that's when we started working and you just, you know, keep going until this point.

Amanda Hagar: 

Cool. What attracted you to the life sciences to combine that with your background in engineering?

Shuo Qiao: 

The reason I go for engineering, because I think for me, I feel it's more innovative that you can create a lot of things that other people can, you can use either you build a hardware or you write a software, that's something you can easily, you know, propagate and solves millions people can use in, in half a year or year, you can, you know, achieve that scale. That's, really fascinating. And, but, at the same time, you know, Just doing the engineering alone is not enough. You want to apply that into, you know, real life and, life science and the healthcare, that one track that I think that's. Definitely making enough impact in people's life. That's why, you know, we, we are going for that, that direction.

Amanda Hagar: 

Yeah. That's absolutely a place you can have a huge impact. It sounds like mm-hmm, that was a, a big motivator for you. That's really cool. You're a founder and the CTO of Moving Analytics. Tell us the story about starting Moving Analytics and what challenges you've solved for along the way.

Shuo Qiao: 

So, yeah, it's a lot more challenging that we actually thought. We started actually when at USC, when we all in, you know, working a lab and we just have the idea, we want to build some application to help one to act to you know, exercise more, basically it is more like similar to a pedometer where you, you track steps and and how many, you know, calories you burn by, you know, walking every day by having a smartphone. At that time, the smartphone had just become a trend. Everyone started getting a smartphone and you know, there's not a lot of exercise tracker kind of application out there. That's where we started and you know, we help people to track their activity. Also, if they sit too long, we will give them a reminder saying, "Hey, you know, you should, stand up and take a walk instead of just sitting too long." And you know, we started there, but, you know, we super struggled at that time, to be honest, because at that time, although we are kind of still early in the market, but there are already some big players out there, Nike is building something Fitbit is building something and it's hard for us as a startup to compete with them. And also it's hard to, gain profit at that time because, you know, we have to just make it free and right. You know, use it hard to, you know, gain revenue that way as well. And then we will struggle on, on that. And then I think it, it just came to us that actually we can apply the same technology in in cardiac rehabilitation. And it was introduced by one of our doctor friends from uh, Stanford and she is really into, you know, using mobile app to increase the accessibility of cardiac rehabilitation at home. And that's where, you know, we wanna just, go that direction. I think we think that's definitely make enough impact in people's life. Also something, you know, we can make profit out of there as well. So, you know, we. Basically spend almost, I think one and one half a year, just doing the pod, the initial pedometer product. And then once we interact with this doctor, we start shifting and pivot to this a new direction, which goes a long way here. So yeah, I think that's the most struggle thing that we have ever experienced. Of course, there's other things, you know, you build a product and the customer says, Hey, this is feature is not, they want what they want. They want the other thing. And things like a back and forth there's, quite a struggle there as well. But in term of the biggest struggle, I think, yeah. That's the pivot that we did is probably the, the biggest one.

Amanda Hagar: 

Yeah. But it sounds like you really tackled it in a smart way by kind of staying really focused and narrowing in on that, the healthcare side of that.

Shuo Qiao: 

We are glad we can focus on that. We made that decision years back and keep focusing on that. And until now.

Amanda Hagar: 

Smart. Mm-hmm So you've raised almost $12 million and partnered with Stanford and other high profile organizations like the Mayo clinic and the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. What's your approach to partnerships and funding. It seems like your strategy is going really well.

Shuo Qiao: 

The way we do it is we, you know, my co-founders are, are intelligent people and also, you know, our teammates as well. So we, you know, spend some time building the initial product and we get some in your introduction from one of the healthcare organizations. I think the first one that got introduced was NYU at that time, NYU Health Center and with that initial customer lining up and initial product ready. Uh, That's where we went out to reach out to investor to close our initial funding at that time. And that helped us to, keep the, product development and customer outreach going and then I think it reached milestone where our product is kind of mature. And we know what's the workflow for, different type of customer that we interact with. And that's when we reach out to investor again, that, you know, we feel, this product is something that we can just keep using and keep improving and can easily duplicate the same business model to other customers. And we want the, the funding to help us strengthen our product at the same time. Just help us to, make the sales team stronger, to be able to, you know, make our voice heard by more and more customers. That's why we, you know, reach another around our funding and to keep us growing Some good news that we recently raised another runoff round and the detail is gonna come soon. So just, you guys gonna be happy to hear the news soon.

Amanda Hagar: 

Ooh, we got a little sneak peek. That's awesome. Congratulations. Yeah. Do you have any tips for potential founders around things to think about while they're looking for VC funding.

Shuo Qiao: 

I think a couple of things, right. And the first thing is what I just said, of course, if you just have the idea and some investor wants to invest in you, that'd be great, but the reality is most investors want to see you. You know, have some certain product and learnings from potential customers. I'm talking about the initial, you know, funding that if they want to, to raise and, and, and that's what the investor wants to see. You have a kind of a product that can demo it doesn't have to be, you know, have detailed feature that every feature that you want build, but it should have at least the MVP, the minimum viable product that, you know, as long can do the work that you say can do that's good enough for the investor. And if you also have a potential customer showing interest, even just a letter of intent or if you have a contract, even better. I think that's a good time point to reach out to investor, to ask for funding and, and tell them, "Hey, this is the real thing, you know, it's gonna go big. Because, you know, we already have a, you know, product, can we have customer lining, we need the funding to keep us growing." That's what investor would like to definitely would like to see that. And I think second aspect is you probably want to time your fundraising as well. Usually, you know, if you are a small team or a big team, it doesn't matter. You always want to think about fundraising or start your fundraising something like at least six months, you have a runway that you have to make sure. That means, if you think about fundraising, you probably want to start, you know, 12 months so that you have funding raised when you have six months runway, you don't want to wait too long. You should always keep your, you know, how do I say your balance, your bank that be able to support the team going for another six months at any given time. If you feel oh, in next, you're gonna run out in 12 months, then you should start thinking about fundraising and, you know, close that founding before the six months mark, because if the six months mark reached and you still don't have enough funding to keep your team going, then you're gonna start to panic and you know, the team gonna, get, down on herself as well. And it's not good for the business and not good for the team. So definitely, you know, start preparing. You don't have to go out, out at early stage that, for example, 18 months out, or, you know, you don't have to tell them, Hey, I want to raise like $5 million or $10 million right away. You can start small by saying, Hey, you know, reach out to the investors saying like, we are thinking to raise funding soon. What do you think? You know, when we should guide the founding or what the size we should get, ask for advice from investor instead of ask for money. That's what, you know, people usually say. When you ask for advice from investor, they invest you. When you ask for money from an investor, they just give you advice. So yeah. Yeah. So that's some, I think something really true for us as well. You know, we usually start, you know, just reach out and ask for advice. And once we get to different, you know, we ask different administrator for advice and they give us a sense, like, our next round gonna how large it should be and when we should risk that. And then as we collect that information and then we consolidate our proposal for the fundraising, and then we reach out to them again, our other investors with small solid data points and that give us a better chance of closing the funding other than just upfront. You just make up some like, number about serve and ask for that amount of money. Yeah. So yeah, that's some strategy probably gonna work for. Yeah.

Amanda Hagar: 

Those are great tips. Yeah. I love the ask for asking for advice. Always be talking to people and reaching out.

Shuo Qiao: 

And of course, a lot of people are really generous, especially the investor that they're also looking for good companies. They love to give you advice. So yeah, that's something somewhere you want to get started with and get the connection with the investors. And once you make progress, because they already know you, they may just put a, you know, 5 million bucks in your bank account. So yeah

Amanda Hagar: 

That's a great point. That's a nice thing to wake up to Yeah, sure. So, you've spoken about mobile health and telehealth being the future of healthcare? Yeah. Can you tell us a bit more about why you think that and what trends you see that support it?

Shuo Qiao: 

Even before the pandemic, we saw that as a trend. And I think that pandemic thing definitely validates further our point of view, I think with the popularity of mobile phone as like six, seven years ago, I think people more and more start thinking about home based care in general, not just cardiac rehab that we do. I think in general, a lot of care want to shift to telehealth in the sense of, you know, can we cover them all the time, 24/ 7, even for the patient, rather than just the, you know, small time window that they spend in the hospital. I mean, think about, how much time they spend in the hospital compared to how much time they spend at home. Then you will realize how important the home health care is, going, be important, how important they are to the patient. And uh, and that's why, you know, we think we want to be the pioneer there to kind of lead the way to, you know, how people to get better care at home, if not 24 7, but at least, you know, whenever they be able they are available. They can use our app to take care of themselves. Then the pandemic hit everyone, you know, is hard to go to hospital anymore. And then just, you know, as I said, just strengthen our point of view that lot of care has to be done at home. And uh, people just start, don't not willing to go to the hospital anymore. In terms of a cardiac rehabilitation, there is the option of, they can go to the rehab center, you know, three times a week for 12 weeks for their rehab, but with the, with the pandemic. It just not possible because all the house protocol, all the stuff, you know, and you know, a lot of customer of ours that, you know, they used to provide their patients with center based cardiac rehab. Now they reach out to us to help them to build a home based cardiac program. Because, they still want to offer the care, but they cannot do it in house. And you know, that's where wish, I, I guess and help the, the patients to be able to do that at home. On top of that, not as the pandemic and overall, I think there's a trend that people now not willing to spend that much time to, to the hospital because it's just a hassle to schedule appointment and go. And internal cardiac rehabilitation. As I said, they have to go three times a week for 12 weeks straight and also during work days. And it is super hard for, you know, patients schedule at times three times a week and also during working hours. And usually the rehab center are, uh, located really far away from their home. They probably have to drive wherever, you know, something like that. It's not as many rehab center available as hospitals. So they usually have to drive a long way and three times a week, that's quite a, you know, commitment there. That's drop-off rate is really high for cardiac rehab center program. And that's, you know, where we play that, you know, come in to play that, you know, if they. Our program, they can just do cardiac rehabilitation at home with instruction from, you know, the care team and, and, you know, they can do it at any time. They, based on their schedule instead of, the cardiac center schedule. So that that's something amazing for, for the patient. And that's why they also like, like our product. I think that's in general, I think that reflect to anything in telehealth that, you know, patient. If they had a headache, they won't just ask the doctor online, right. Instead of have to schedule appointment, right. The time efficiency is there and the effectiveness and the coverage of the timeframe of the care also there. So I think that those are the key points that, you know, why we think telehealth and remote care are the, the future. Uh, It's gonna be even getting better cares in the future with home care.

Amanda Hagar: 

Yeah, absolutely. It sounds like that's also, it's totally a win-win for clinicians and patients, because I also know that. Clinicians spend a lot of time thinking about and caring about and trying to sometimes they're put in the place where they need to help people set up transportation. And again, transportation is also just a huge hurdle for a lot of patients, especially people in rural areas. Something we don't think about all the time in terms of healthcare. Yeah. That's that's great. How can mobile health impact high density countries like China and India, for example?

Shuo Qiao: 

I think it's a great opportunity there. You know, high population density they are still facing the issue as you know, the healthcare system resource is exactly not enough, you know, for the high density population there, for example, in China, where I come from, you know, people just line up. You have to line up at the hospital for hours to even get scheduled for the doctor for the day. I mean, a lot of, and people just struggle for that. They probably have to wake up like 3:00 AM or 4:00 AM to just line up outside the hospital before the hospital open. And, and so, so you can, they can make sure to be able to meet the doctor for the day because they have some open slots, you know, by, in person appointment. Right. So they just want to grab that chance. But even that just even, there's a lot of hospital resources there, but it's just not enough. Not enough with the high population density that's there. I think we, where the mobile uh, care, you know, coming to play is, with mobile care, you know, of course, patient be able to do all the consultant online directly and without have to personally make the appointment. And secondly is a lot of people who go to the hospital. They actually didn't have as serious symptoms as they thought. They may just have a headache. They say, oh, there's a big thing. They have a go to hospital because they don't know what's happening. They don't get a triaged, you know, and you know, any patient have anything for them to go to hospital and then that's not an optimized way of using the healthcare resource, I think, and with mobile health, mobile care, patients can, you know, ask the preliminary question online directly and you know, it doesn't have to be expert or, you know, uh, doctor with 10 years or 30 years of experience. To answer your question. It can be just, you know, a new grad doctor to, you know, to help you triage you. That's good enough. And that's, you know, be able to triage you a, a thing your condition and tell you you know, a small thing that you can just take care of yourself, drink some more water, or you should think about, go to doctor's schedule appointment. And by doing that in high density population area, I think definitely gonna improve, you know, the, the efficiency of the health care system that the patient has small illness conditions can just stay at home and take care of themselves. And someone that have more serious conditions, potentially be a serious conditions can go to the doctor at the otherwise of the, you know, the mobile health care manager. Yeah, I think that they're gonna help a lot.

Amanda Hagar: 

Yeah, absolutely.

Shuo Qiao: 

Mm-hmm

Amanda Hagar: 

So we have a lot of startup founders that listen to the show. From your experience, what are some of the tech requirements to consider when launching a healthcare startup?

Shuo Qiao: 

I think that the health care startup is a little bit different than other tech startups in the sense I think other tech startups are more going for cutting edge technology and building the fancy feature, all that stuff. But for health, technology startups, I think the focus more on security and compliance and, and once that achieved then is more like what feature build out stuff. That's not something that not only is there something that really every startup should focus on the security and compliance. Also there's a government requirement, something called HIPAA compliance. That's literally, you know, if you don't follow that and there's information, get this patient information, get disclosed. You may get yourself into trouble, because the U.S. Government gonna, you know, come after you, if you don't take care of good care of the security side. And also, you know, is if you don't take good care of the security, I don't see that you know, you are taking good care of your patients, right? So I think that's the commitment you have made you make at the very beginning. And you have just have to do your own research, how to secure your product and server and just reach out to some security expert and whoever have done the security practice for you know, tech startup. You should consult them and ask for advice. And then, you know, secure your product the same way as other people secure them. And then I think that's the first thing, a good goal. And after that, you you're good goal to start building features you, you want to build and that's the major difference and definitely some advice for the startup founders. Yeah. That's great advice. That's a really good point. So if you could go back and tell yourself something at the start of your career, what would that be? If I go back, I definitely I'll tell myself I study a lot when I was in college and also at the beginning of our startup stage, I experienced a lot of different technologies. Now I have the knowledge, if I, we would know that up front so I definitely will tell myself, you know, what tech stack or what you know, a architecture I should choose and how to build a product. That's one thing. And the second thing is regarding the business model, we were having some detail that we were not think of and that the one that I talked to you, we were building a pedometer at that time. And the things like that, that's something we definitely can avoid and save the time. Even like when our business keeps running well and growing, we also have some, you know, blockers where we're experiencing the business model business model was not perfect and we, you know, are facing some resistance from our, some of our customers at the beginning as well. That's something we can avoid as well. Like in the sense of, we were, reaching out hospital to pay us to use our product, but it is turned out to be not a good way. And we just shifted the emphasis to reach out to provider, which is, you know, insurance companies to make us be be reimbursable. And that solved us a lot of problem now that once that reimbursement is there, it's easier for us to make revenue and grow our business. That's I think another thing that I want to tell myself, you know, 10 years ago or eight years ago, myself, that, you know, if you know that you should already reach out to the payers at the beginning, things like that. I think those are the thing that I wanna tell myself. Yeah,

Amanda Hagar: 

Fair enough. That's a good point. So before we wrap up, we like to ask all of our guests, where can people go to learn more, follow along, and connect with you?

Shuo Qiao: 

I mean, if you guys want to connect feel free to, you know, reach out me on LinkedIn. Uh, you can search my full name, Shuo Qiao. So if you use LinkedIn, I think you can definitely follow me there. And, and that's the most, I don't use other social networks that much, so I think that's the best way you can reach out to me.

Amanda Hagar: 

Great. Sounds good. Thank you so much for joining us today. It was great chatting with you.

Shuo Qiao: 

Thanks for your time, Amanda.