A Health Tech Manifesto

The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has just published a ‘Tech manifesto’:


“So what?” you might ask… Well, GPs are the hub of the NHS and are responsible for a huge number of patient consultations per year (about 340 million, compare that with 23.9 million at A&E). Any NHS IT infrastructure therefore has to get it right in general practice to stand a chance of survival. Hence my interest in a manifesto on this topic from the college that represents GPs.

Although I’m pleased to see this manifesto, I’m worried about how the NHS may try to achieve these aims. I don’t think anyone would argue that fax machines are a good tool to use these days or that sluggish network speeds are anything but a hindrance. There is frustration that the basics aren’t right but the NHS has a poor track record of pushing through change. Continue reading “A Health Tech Manifesto”

Can scruffy be good?

scruffy dog

Here’s a heated debate we were having a few days ago:

“We need to get a presentation box so that we look slick when we are showing people our product.”

“I disagree, we actually want our presentation to be a bit scruffy.”

“You’re mad…”

… or something to that effect.

So, why on earth would anyone argue that we want anything less than a slick presentation when showing a prospective customer our product? Continue reading “Can scruffy be good?”

Which eCommerce platform should I use?


We recently wanted to test some product ideas. Until now, everything we’d built had been a service so this was a brave new world. We were going to try to sell stuff you could actually see!

One question we needed to answer was ‘how will we create our online shop front?’ We were aware there was a plethora of choice (such as eBay, Amazon and Etsy to mention just a few) in addition to the possibility of a more DIY approach using a simple website and a PayPal account. Continue reading “Which eCommerce platform should I use?”

The questions you need to ask when starting a new business

Question mark

Are you thinking of a career change? Perhaps you like the idea of starting your own business, or even developing something new by setting up a start-up? In that case, read on, and I’ll share with you a few things that we’ve learned on the way.

The first thing to say, and a big mistake that we’ve made, is that your idea is almost the least important part. We spent years at itamus developing a wonderful solution, without checking whether anyone wanted it. We now call it “the Behemoth”. Because it’s a massive and (mostly) unwanted monster… Continue reading “The questions you need to ask when starting a new business”

What’s the big idea?


Do you ever dream of being your own boss? Does the idea of creating something new appeal to you? Do you want to work at something that’s truly yours?

Many people do. And I’m sure, like many people, you’re just waiting for the right idea. I mean, after all, if only we’d thought of Facebook, then we’d all be billionaires, right?

Or perhaps you’ve already done it. You’ve quit work and are working on your plan to market purple marmalade (It looks like jam, but tastes of orange!™) and are pouring everything that you own into the idea to make it work…

Here’s the thing. In both cases you’d be making an error, because your idea isn’t that important. I hope this blog can convince you why.

Continue reading “What’s the big idea?”

A tale of two meetings


Ok, confession time. For someone who spends an awful lot of time proselytising that other people should get out and get talking to potential customers as much as possible, we’ve not always walked the walk ourselves. So please view this as a sort of morality tale, and learn from our mistakes, so that you don’t have to repeat them.

About 18 months ago, we’d been working on our blood pressure management system for about 3 years. In that time, we’d not spoken to a single customer and barely mentioned it to a few of our work colleagues. We had bought some traffic through AdWords, and poured over data that was too small to show any useful information. It didn’t matter because we were building our masterpiece, and when we unleashed it on the world, people would come flocking. Because it did everything that anyone could possibly want it to do.

Somehow, word got out about what we were working on, and we were invited to meet with a potential customer to show them what we were working on.

Continue reading “A tale of two meetings”

The advantage of being a medical founder


We’re currently doing customer development. One of our strategies has been to set up a Facebook group where patients can ask us questions. Our value proposition for the group is quite simple. “We are two UK-trained GPs. Please ask us your questions about high blood pressure and we will attempt to answer them as best we can. We regret that we cannot give specific medical advice. We want to know what it is that you want to know.”

And it works. We’ve got a group of people who ask us their questions about blood pressure, and we try our best to help them by giving them the best answers that we can. They’re under no obligation to us, but occasionally we’ll ask the group a question, and we’ve asked for UK based volunteers to talk to.
Continue reading “The advantage of being a medical founder”

Screening vs testing – are you making the same mistake?


In old London town, Inspector Closet has been called to solve a murder. Lady Lotta Ouaste the third has been found murdered at Ouaste Mansions.

The only clue, a tin of moustache wax dropped at the scene of the crime…

Fortunately Closet is on the case. The roads are closed and the area is sealed. Closet quickly deduces that the murderer has a moustache. He asks the local constabulary to round up everyone with a moustache in the area.

Unfortunately, Ouaste Mansions is in Shoreditch. There are a lot of moustachioed citizens to round up.

Crowds soon start to gather and demand the release of their baristas, web-designers and food bloggers. “Productive” work has ground to a halt. Chaos ensues. The moustached many have to be released.

Later that day Closet receives information from Lady Ouaste’s lawyer. She changed her will only the day before, bequeathing everything to her young lover, a conceptual artist and erstwhile entrepreneur Holden Roman. A man with previous convictions for violence and a significant craft beer habit. A man who was being chased by some pretty serious VCs for the money he owed them.

Outside of the front door to Roman’s work/live space, Closet hears a suspicious buzzing sound. He kicks down the door and breaks in. He’s just in the nick of time as he catches the guilty man in the act of shaving off his moustache…

Another case solved by the great detective. Closet can go back to his Sudoku.

The moral of the story?

Too many health tech companies are building better moustache detectors and then wondering why they can’t sell them to famous detectives…

Do you understand the difference between screening and testing, and why it is vital to your value proposition? Let us know in the comments below.

How Trump did it – strategies from the tech industry


Donald Trump. Love him or hate him, and there are plenty on both sides, he’s pulled off an historic electoral upset.

What’s interesting to me, is how he’s used cutting edge business strategy taken from the tech industry to do it.

Hillary raised more money than him. Hillary was more qualified than him. Hillary will likely end up with more of the popular vote than him. By all of the accepted metrics of modern political campaigns he shouldn’t have won. And yet he did. The big question now, is how?

As someone in the start-up world, I think there are interesting parallels between the lean start-up movement and his campaign. In fact it would seem to be a classic disruptive strategy.

Continue reading “How Trump did it – strategies from the tech industry”