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Dream and Drive: Becoming Digital Health Entrepreneurs

TAG: Geral
Entrepreneurs are noted for dreaming: to imaginatively change the world by challenging the status quo, and in the process creating industry-defining products and services. Bringing a dream to fruition and reality requires determination and dedication – the innate drive to push through inevitable encountered challenges and a relentless pursuit of inventiveness, progress and success. Digital health entrepreneurs’ ultimate goals are to launch marketable hardware or software and to create start-ups and nurture them to become commercially viable companies.

Matéria produzida originalmente em inglês, para português clique aqui e veja a tradução do Google.

Hi-Tech Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs are noted for dreaming: to imaginatively change the world by challenging the status quo, and in the process creating industry-defining products and services. Bringing a dream to fruition and reality requires determination and dedication – the innate drive to push through inevitable encountered challenges and a relentless pursuit of inventiveness, progress and success. Digital health entrepreneurs’ ultimate goals are to launch marketable hardware or software and to create start-ups and nurture them to become commercially viable companies.

The entrepreneurial profiles of hi-tech pioneers are illustrative for understanding the psychology of being driven and visionary. Exemplary hi-tech entrepreneurs’ dreams and drives, by creative leaps have redefined business and industrial enterprises. Few names come to mind in medtech, biotech, computing and telecom commercial histories. Pioneers such as Ezra Cornell, Cyrus Field and Guglielmo Marconi, Simon Ramo, Edward Roberts, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Raymond Damadian, Jeff Hawkins, Patrick Soon-Shiong, Herbert Boyer and others are exemplars. These were (are) not only inveterate entrepreneurs but also compulsive product, service and system engineers and innovators.

Exhibiting intuitiveness, creativity, serendipity and perseverance, which have propelled them to create and manufacture era-defining and -transcending consumer and enterprise products and services. These behaviors are spurs to inspire the design and creation of digital health technologies.

Creating Digital Enterprises

Digital health technologies are being created to provide healthcare service delivery effectiveness and efficiency. The next crops of exemplary entrepreneurs pioneered technologies that are making these gains possible. Not only accomplished entrepreneurs and engineers, these pioneers also demonstrated relentless drive in mobilising funds for their ideas by convincing initially sceptical to be investors.

Simon Ramo was quick to identify and capitalise on the combinatorial values of electronics. He envisioned of an industrial biotech, telecom and computing convergence future. In co-founding TRW, a once digital industrial power-house, he exhibited a rare entrepreneurial drive to transform computing, space and automation industries. He demonstrated that cash-flows from winning government contracts can be employed to finance further digital technology developments. He distinctly espoused Schumpeterian balanced view of the complementary investing roles of governments and private in fostering hi-tech development.

Dr Ramo pioneered the inventions and large-scale manufacturing of semiconductors and electronics technologies employed for powering Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles and robots. And an engineering legacy he left at Hughes also pioneered the creation of world’s first geosynchronous telecom satellites. Contemporary space entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk, the founder of Space X and Tesla, and the unsung British David Williams, the founder of Avanti Communications and a pioneer Ka-band satellite designer and owner, are different Simon Ramo entrepreneurial types.

Simon Ramo unprecedentedly envisioned a future of digital health combinations, which are now being realised by the wellspring of start-ups springing up virtually everyday. His pioneering of automated flight is re-invented in how drones are now being used for healthcare delivery purposes.

Ezra Cornell and Cyrus Fields were risk-taking compulsive entrepreneurs by laying the foundation of modern telecom business. And both were also successful fund-raisers for their fledgling telegraphy companies.

Cornell, the co-founder of Western Union was an inventor and an endower of the eponymous university. His relentless drive resulted in transforming a start-up into a national giant by using capitals he raised from investing partners. Based on Samuel Morse patents, he designed more portable and more user-friendly telegraph devices, and in the process made telegraphy an essential enterprise communication tools for businesses and governments. His legacy ensured that Western Union survived numerous hostile take-overs, and later commissioned the world’s first fully privately funded dedicated global commercial satellite telecom: the Westar.

Cyrus Field pioneered global telecommunication. As a paper manufacturer, his entrepreneurial drive realised his dream of building a global telecom system, by risking and losing his accumulated personal wealth. Before the advent of satellites, Cyrus in spite of countless encountered frustrations and failures exhibited relentless determination to lay the first trans-Atlantic telegraphy cables. His company required constant financial rescues and by his remarkable entrepreneurial energy, were sourced from reluctant but notable equity investors such as Moses Taylor, the founder of Citibank, and the equally risk-taking EnglishJohn Pender, a textile merchant and railway mogul, the founder of Cable & Wireless and an endower of UCL. Pender was also a pioneer financier of wireless telegraphy.

Guglielmo Marconi is now forgotten but was probably the world’s first global techno-celebrity. Like Thomas Edison, he was a relentless inventor-entrepreneur personified. His relentless tinkering and serial entrepreneurship made him a global icon with a rare combination of being a business tycoon and a Nobel Laureate. By pioneering the wireless telephony industry with investments made by John Pender, he was knighted, ennobled and honoured in all countries all over the world where he co-founded companies.

Marconi’s technological legacy is now hidden in TVs, radios, mobile phones and satellites. Foregrounding why size matters to survive in a turbulent digital business, his last-standing subsidiary an eponymous UK Company, once an electronics pioneer, was recently felled by destructive creationism. Because of its small size, it failed to compete for contracts with other relative newer but bigger global corporations in a globalising world. But Marconi’s legacy is now part of multinationals such as BAE Systems, Ericsson, Phillips, and other telecom operators across the world.


These telecom pioneers showed exemplary entrepreneurial drives in mobilising finances in order to fulfill their dreams of creating game-changing technologies and businesses. Field, Marconi and Pender as globalists, demonstrated that a technology start-up can grow by internationalising once commercial potentials of its technology is successfully tested in home market.

The digital legacies of these globalists are evident in today’s telecom and computing technologies and industries. Modern healthcare service design and delivery in the forms of telemedicine, telehealth, automated remote surgery and electronic health records, are products of such legacies.

Transforming Consumer Experience

The success of the digital health industry will be determined by how its products and services arouse the desires of expectant consumers. Meeting their expectations will demand the entrepreneurial drives and dreams of start-ups’ founders. The profiles of these computing pioneers point to how these desires can be met.

Edward Roberts’s entrepreneurial drive and dream made him to kick-start the personal computing revolution. He is a master of re-invention. In building the world’s first commercial personal computer, he demonstrated risk-taking by sacrificing its desire to become a medical doctor for training as an engineer. This same behaviour also drove him to enlist in the US Army, where he co-founded Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry System (MITS). A Thomas Edisonque serial inventor, he created electronics for rocketry and lightings, and in the process pioneered a transition from electronic calculators to build the first digital personal computer (PC). This re-invention was another stroke of Roberts’s risk-taking entrepreneurial ability.

Roberts was undermined by his own success when corporations with economies of scale out-priced his calculators. But his soon profitable PC making start-up became history-changing and left a digital entrepreneurial legacy. Ever re-inventing his company and himself, he later took a risk at middle-age to train as a medical doctor.

Edward Roberts’s re-invention tactics as a cue for electronics technology companies to consider for investing into and creating digital health innovations.

Steve Jobs exploits are well known to many as the creator of era-defining and industry-transforming combinatorial mobile media, computing and communication devices. But he was more that. By his product and system design prowess and manufacturing and supply-chain innovations, Steve creatively changed consumers’ appetite for hitherto boring digital technologies and services. Apple’s beautiful devices are more than objects of admiration, but are also that of envy. Everyone wants what her neighbor or friend has, and competitors want to replicate the same product.

The serendipitous ways Steve Jobs spotted: a commercial value in a computer Steve Wozniak engineered; and in identifying utility for Xerox PARC’s graphic interface software and mouse, portended an innova-genius in the making. This entrepreneurial trait was also demonstrated in spotting commercial values of the technologies he co-founded Pixar on.

A close system of tight coupling software with hardware that Jobs pioneered, is a strategy that I see can make digital health technologies more secure and reliable.

Bill Gates, whom I had a rare opportunity to meet and briefly chatted with, exhibited a relentless drive in co-founding a hugely successful multinational: Microsoft. He envisioned a commercial purpose for it’s hitherto start-up’s raw software, by dreaming and making it a reality that every household personal computer would be powered by it. Cold-calling and selling still undeveloped software to a computer hardware company: Edward Roberts’s MITS, was a hallmark display of marketing brinkmanship. Coupled with his strategic thinking, Bill created a corporation out of a start-up built on a technology acquired by outsmarting other companies.

Bill Gates’s vision for an open software architecture philosophy can inspire the creation of interoperable digital health systems and platforms. To wit, a digital health venture fund created by him can invest into this philosophy.

Jeff Hawkins can be regarded as the inventor of mobile computing and his inventions presaged the Smartphone revolution. When his idea to create a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) – a Smartphone precursor was spurned by a company he was working in, he resigned. By having faith in his dream to miniaturize and ‘mobilise’ computers, he co-founded Palm Inc. and Handspring. And in the process, offered a new digital experience for consumers and professionals alike. Even though, Palm pioneering Smartphone, Treo powered by Microsoft Windows Mobile OS failed to arouse consumers’ desires, the company kick-started mHealth computing.


The four pioneers have achieved amazing and transcendental feats. Roberts, Jobs and Gates transformed amateurish computing coding and design hobbies into several trillion dollars industries. Their individual entrepreneurial drives made their dreams a reality. They created transformative technologies and companies; and in the process shaped and redefined consumers’ digital experiences. Both Apple and Microsoft are now creating digital health technologies. And Jeff Hawkins is now devoting himself to combining digital technologies and neuroscience.

There are other exemplars that are equally driven and visionary in the ways they are advancing combinatorial digital health innovations.

Combining technologies

The success of fledgling digital health start-ups is dependent on their founders’ entrepreneurial drives and dreams. Exemplary leaderships set in the medtech and biotech industries by inventor-entrepreneurs are spurs for budding digital health entrepreneurs.

Dr Raymond Damadian is a co-inventor of medical diagnostic Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) technologies. He founded Fonar Corporation, becoming globally renowned for manufacturing the world’s first commercial MRI machine. His relentless entrepreneurial drive propelled him to translate his scientific ideas and visions into a commercial reality. Canny as they come, he jettisoned his own invented algorithm for a competing scientific colleague’s, in order to build a global lead for his machines.

Dr Damadian determination ensured that he secured a patent infringement payout from the formidable General Electric, after a long gruelling legal battle. And he invested the spoils to grow his fledgling company. Not deterred by being snubbed for a Nobel Laurel in recognition of his MRI invention, he collaborated withWilson Greatbatch, the pioneer pacemaker inventor, to improve the device. His legacy for digital health entrepreneurs would be how he intuitively and creatively combined together hardware and software in creating the first MRI machine.

Joe Kiani, the founder of Masimo Corporation is bent on re-inventing home and hospital care with mobile and networked medical diagnostic devices. Joe is a multiple-award winner, who built his start-up based on patents awarded for an innovative algorithm that non-invasive blood flow diagnosis possible. Driven and determined as Dr Damadian, Joe Kiani also secured a massive payout against its competitors who infringed on his algorithm patents.

Presiding over a fast-growing medtech pacesetter that values patients’ comfort and safety, Joe has shown that a canny combination of hardware and software can generate useable digital health products and services.

Dr Frederic Moll, a robotic medtech pioneer. He is leading the use of robots for revolutionising automated and remote surgery. He is the co-founder of Intuitive Surgical and Hansen Medical. His entrepreneurial drive made him to create a surgical robotic start-up, when he spotted commercial and clinical values in an experimental project. This was in spite of being earlier spurned by his former employer who did not appreciate his visionary technology-spotting talents.

Dr Moll’s vision and persistence were nonetheless, enough to convince venture capitalists to finance the translation of an experiment into a commercially successful enterprise product. By combining 3D Computing with mechatronics, surgeons using his da Vinci surgical system, are benefiting from consumer-like video-gaming experience in their various theatres. Frederic, like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, has proven that an entrepreneur doesn’t necessarily have to be an original inventor to create pace-setting hi-tech businesses. A technology with commercial potentials can be acquired, functionally and stylishly improved upon, and marketed.

Small and Medium Enterprises

The companies founded by Damadian, Kiani and Moll have undoubtedly empowered clinicians and have improved patients outcomes. Between them, they have transformed the design and utilisation of medtechs with the combinations of imaging, kinetics, automaton and heamodynamism. They are showing that smalland medium enterprises (SMEs), and not only corporations, can emerge as pacesetters in the emerging digital health landscape.

Converging industries

The computing, telecom and medtech industries have become established by the drives and dreams ofintrepid and persistent entrepreneurs. Those in the relatively newer biotech industry can also be exemplars for growing the emerging digital health one. There are biotech entrepreneurial profiles to interest any digital health upstart.

The multi-awarded Dr Herbert Boyer is the co-founder of Genentech. He pioneered the biotech industry by ‘synthesising nature’. The then start-up company showed the world the commercial viability of genomics for pharmaceutical and medical purposes. He was driven to break a new ground by convincing a venture capitalist, Robert Swanson to commercialise his co-developed scientific ideas, and in the process beat its adjacent competitor: Biogen. Whose co-founder, Dr Ivor Royston personifies the Edisonian scientist-entrepreneur identity. His entrepreneurial drive and dream made San Diego city a biotech metropolis, and by his venture capitalism has nurtured other numerous profitable biotech start-ups.

Dr Patrick Soon-Shiong founded two multi-billion dollars cancers-bursting pharmaceutical companies:American Pharmaceutical Partners and Abraxis BioScience. A consummate scientist-entrepreneur, he epitomises the essence of digital health convergence. By creatively combining together pharmaceutical, biotech, computing, telecom and medtech innovations, he is set to revolutionise healthcare service design and delivery through his start-up: the NantWorks assemblage, which has NantHealth as a subsidiary.

The acquisition and joint venture activities of NantHealth are a marker for future digital health industry dominance. An ongoing accumulation of augmented reality, mobile, multimedia, supercomputing, broadband, medication adherence, telehealth, interoperability and electronic health record technologies, is making Apple, Facebook and Google seem like fast-followers. Not least because of Blackberry’s recent equity stake in NantHealth, as both companies are poised to produce secured and high-performance Smartphones for the healthcare enterprise.

If the emerging digital health industry would require a dominant star in the way Steve Jobs did for mobile computing, an obvious candidate would be Dr Soon-Shiong.

Building Digital Health

Globally, digital health innovations are dictated by varying purposive and speculative combinations, of inventors, start-ups, financiers, venture capitalists, governments, universities and companies. Their dreams and drives are inspiring wellsprings of novel and improved products and services, resulting from spawning and generative electronics being creatively combined with genomics, informatics and mechanics.

Entrepreneurial dreams and drives will energise combinatorial innovations and industrial convergence. The digital health ecosystem is built upon inherently rich and spawning foundational electronics and semiconductor technologies. Britain excels in its business: ARM, Imagination and Avanti are exemplars. The former two SMEs are proving that a digital company can be small in size and yet become a multinational; in the sense of domestically and profitably designing microchips manufactured off-shored in other countries. The latter offers satellite telecom design and service globally. Their success in a competitive global market, informs that SMEs are part of digital health business ecosystem that involves entrepreneurial individuals, start-ups and corporations.

The new class of hi-tech entrepreneurs – the digital health ones, can be inspired by the exemplars. Given that only time and market can determine if emerging products and services will become commercial successes; then digital health entrepreneurs’ relentless drive to pursue their dreams, can make their start-ups to become successful and profitable businesses and world beaters. In doing so, aspiring entrepreneurs must build great engineering, marketing and sales teams; and must form and nurture mutually beneficial partnerships.

Dream and Drive

Successful digital health entrepreneurs will be favoured by an alignment of consumers’ desires, clinicians’ endorsements, payers’ purses and government laws. They will also be dogged by controversies and intrigues that defined and characterised the rise to prominence of the aforementioned hi-tech pioneers.

Hi-tech entrepreneurs need not only be engineers. Medical doctors and academics can also be. Medical doctors such as Drs Edward Roberts, Raymond Damadian, Frederic Moll, Herbert Ivor Royston and Patrick Soon-Shiong, have shown to be accomplished businessmen. Drs Simon Ramo and Patrick Soon-Shiong like the intuitive Dr Amir Bose the founder of Bose; have demonstrated that academics can also translate scientific concepts into great businesses. Vannevar Bush a pioneer digital computing inventor, was also an academic when he co-founded of Raytheon. And Elihu Thomson, was a proficient engineering scientist, and he co-founded General Electric, Alstom and Technicolor SA.

The exemplars’ relentless entrepreneurial drives and visionary dreams have commercialised enviable and admirable products and services, and have founded groundbreaking companies. In their own ways, the exemplars were (are) innova-geniuses, but few became techno-celebrities as the likes of Guglielmo Marconi, Steve Job and Bill Gates.

Digital health start-ups must be led by entrepreneurs with similar creativity, vision, serendipity, intuitiveness and determination, to gain valuable commercial and consumer traction.

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