In our latest Q&A we sat down with Michal Meiri, Co-founder of Agamon, an Israeli health tech company who have developed a comprehensive NLP and AI platform that enables medical teams to leverage data for better patient care, reduced risk and improved outcomes.
We recently participated in Agamon’s $3M round, led by MMC. On the investment, our Managing Partner, Reshma Sohoni, comments: “We have been an incredibly active investor in health tech over the past decade and one of the biggest, unsolved issues is the endless document problem in health systems. Agamon’s cutting edge platform will be highly impactful to transform clinical text into usable data to help improve patient care – saving money, time, and more importantly, improving patient outcomes.”
We’re incredibly excited to have Michal and the Agamon team as new additions to the Seedcamp Nation. And, on that note, over to Michal to tell us more about what they’re building and why it’s needed now more than ever.
What led you to create Agamon and why is there a specific need for it now?
There is an urgent and unmet need for healthcare organizations to improve quality and reduce the cost of care. The United States, for example, ranks highest in percentage of GDP spent on healthcare, but only ranks 15th in terms of quality. I always believed that data holds the key to transformation in the way healthcare is delivered; data can unlock opportunities for cost reduction, care improvement, and so much more.
Coming from the fintech world, I was intrigued by the potential to use data to transform traditional industries. Bringing this potential from financial institutions to healthcare, I quickly found that the problem is that in healthcare around 80% of data is textual, which essentially means that this data cannot be used to automate processes.
Agamon offers a solution to this exact problem–we apply our NLP and AI technology to make sense of these textual narratives, allowing healthcare organizations to automate urgent and time-consuming processes. This need obviously existed before the pandemic, but the massive volume of free text on patients who were hospitalized with COVID-19 only strengthened the case for structuring these datasets and many others.
Can you tell me more about your background and how you met your co-founders?
Before establishing Agamon, I was a product manager in the FinTech industry at both Wonga and Checkout, where I built B2B products that leveraged mass volumes of data to make smarter decisions about our lives, which no doubt gave me the skills and experience necessary to do what I’m doing today at Agamon. In terms of my academic background, I hold an MPhil in Nanotechnology from Cambridge University and a BSc in Computer Science and Chemistry from Tel Aviv University.
I met my co-founder Omri, Agamon’s CTO, while consulting for an Israeli FinTech startup, where he was previously the CTO. I truly enjoyed working with Omri and was impressed by his ability to manage and teach developers with different backgrounds and levels while instilling a sense of enjoyment and fun. Omri is a unique CTO in the sense that he’s a proper co-founder that understands not only the technology side of the business but the strategic side as well and that, in my opinion, is quite unique. I knew I would enjoy building a business with him and that we would both bring a completely different set of skills to the table.
You’re currently working mainly across Israel and the US. Have you noticed any major differences when it comes to operating and selling across the two different countries?
For sure. Israelis are much more direct and blunt, so doing business in the US is different in every possible way. In Israel, everything moves significantly faster, relatively speaking. In addition to the cultural differences, there are differences inherent to a private vs. public market. Israel relies on a public healthcare system incentivized mostly towards improving care, conducting research and reducing costs. In spite of the transition to value-based care in the US, the financials of their healthcare system are still very much based on fee-for-service. This means that Agamon’s use cases and value proposition needs to be adjusted to align appropriately with each market and we adjust our story accordingly.
What do you think the current climate means for the health tech industry?
While the current climate has been devastating in so many ways, I think it’s probably the best thing that could have happened to the healthtech industry. It has brought light to the urgent need to improve efficiency and automate processes both in hospitals and other care delivery settings. Not doing so has already resulted in so many lost lives, malpractice claims, and wasted resources. It is now clearer than ever that healthcare must make the leap and join the 21st century, and fortunately, many organizations are embracing this and are even excited about the possibilities and potential brought in by technology and innovation.
How did you first hear about Seedcamp?
Seedcamp is a well-known brand; I heard about it often when I lived and worked in the tech industry in London. I always knew that it is one of the best funds for seed companies. When MMC, our lead investor, suggested connecting us with SC, it was a no brainer. The partners were really curious about the product itself and asked some really interesting questions about the features and product roadmap. Having been a product manager, that hooked me immediately!
How have you found the experience of being a Seedcamp founder so far?
We had a founders’ bootcamp a few months ago, which I really enjoyed. What’s great about Seedcamp is that companies all join at a very early stage, so you join a community of founders in similar situations–the networking and dialogue are invaluable. Also, it feels like the partners are really keen to support founders, whether directly or through the platform they provide.
Any words of advice for anyone thinking about starting their own business?
It’s a tough journey so make sure you do something that you truly enjoy doing and feel passionate about, and if you find it, just keep pushing.