Investment group Kamet Ventures professes to “build disruptive businesses from the ground up” in the health tech sector, as well as in ‘insure-tech’ and mobility. Health Tech World spoke to managing director Michael Niddam to find out more.
What is the company’s ethos towards the healthcare sector?
First and foremost, our goal as a venture builder is to create companies that can alleviate some of the pain points that people experience in their everyday lives. At Kamet, one of the key sectors we focus on which allows us to achieve this is healthcare, as it is a sector that is imperative to society, but in desperate need of innovation.
This understanding of the market is driven by the deep industry experience of our leadership team and our network of scientists, academics, and knowledgeable sector operators. This helps us tackle some of the challenges of the modern day healthcare – including fertility, aging, remote care, diagnosis and numerous others.
Our focus on health is especially timely as nations around the globe continue to deal with the pandemic and its repercussions. Nearly a year of lockdowns has accelerated digital transitions already underway in healthcare, driving an innovation shift towards products, services, and business models that are suited to the new normal.
Because of the way we’ve done things, several of the ventures we’d already built were well positioned to provide necessary solutions such as Qare, a telemedicine leader in France and Birdie, a social venture aimed at improving at-home care for older adults.
What things are you looking for when at the early stages of launching a business?
While every venture starts as a good idea, for it to eventually become successful, it needs to be a business that’s viable, can attract customers, and requires us to bring in the right entrepreneurs to run it. Coming up with an idea is easy, but it’s the execution of it that’s difficult. We have a very scientific approach to venture building that’s made possible by how well our team understands the market.
Rather than being a traditional investor, we essentially operate on the same level as the entrepreneurs we bring in by acting as a strategic partner who provides support as they take the reins of an idea that Kamet came up with. In that sense, in the early stages of any venture idea, we’ll closely assess the entrepreneurs we’ve brought in on their abilities and talent. A great entrepreneur will have a passion for their work and a resilience and willingness to tackle challenges that come their way. We value individuals who can work well in a team and are curious in a way that drives them to question their own assumptions about finding solutions to problems, which is sometimes needed in this line of work.
Are there particular markets you are interested in within health tech?
With COVID still weighing heavily on the sector, it’s highlighted a number of areas that’ll play an important role as we enter a post-pandemic world. Telemedicine and telehealth have experienced a boom over the last year as people increasingly turned to the convenience and safety of remote health consultations. The number of offerings on the market has continued to grow, including our own venture Qare – a market leading telehealth service in France which delivers quick and efficient care for individuals that are pressed for time, have special needs, are geographically distant or, with the current situation, are simply unable or unwilling to leave their homes.
When it comes to innovation, other areas such as AI, SaaS, and data analytics come to mind as markets we are very involved in. From using AI to diagnose medical conditions, something which our venture Ibex is currently pioneering, to developing software that can improve communication between frontline staff, which Medloop has created. We’re especially pleased at the success of Medloop, which recently partnered with the NHS to assist in the vaccination booking process across the UK.
Is there an emphasis placed on under-developed markets?
At Kamet, we are focused on where opportunities lie. This does not necessarily mean there aren’t others operating in this space. In fact, during the ideation process we often look at potential competitors as a validation by proxy that the problem exists and needs to be solved. What we do put a laser sharp focus on is creating innovative solutions to these problems. For example, with elderly care we saw there are already numerous companies providing at-home care services. But with the use of technology, it became clear that this process could be streamlined and modernised for the 21st century, thus improving the quality of care for the elderly and vulnerable.
What is your process for scrutinising different ideas?
Every idea we come up with begins with whether we believe there is an opportunity within the market – in other words, important problems that could have multiple solutions. From here, we then work on a value proposition through further research of the market and conversations with our network of experts. This gives us further insight on how big the pain point is within the market, whether it is feasible to fix, and whether that solution is scalable. Sometimes this first step can take several months and involves the idea being constantly tested, and often we’ll end up throwing it away before it’s ever created, thus de-risking the launch process. Only the best solutions make it to the design process, before then evolving into a venture that we build and scale.
How do you utilise data gathering within your process?
Data is a critical component of the entire building process, especially during the conception phase. The extensive research we conduct and the relationships with health sector experts provides us with the data and first-hand insights that we base our decisions on. We live in such a data-rich world, which greatly benefits us as a venture-builder as it helps us to identify the key gaps in the market, test hypotheses and develop innovative solutions.
How much of a focus do you place on innovation?
It’s a core principle at Kamet. Our aim is to create businesses that have the potential to scale up and address the most pressing problems, with healthcare being a sector ripe for innovation. The ideas that make it past the conception stage are ultimately ones that have the potential to transform healthcare for good.
Take Ibex, for example, which has developed a revolutionary AI-powered technology that can detect cancer much quicker than previously possible. With faster diagnoses come quicker recoveries for patients as they can be prescribed treatments at earlier stages when shorter and less intense programmes are required. Their work has not gone unnoticed as last year their technology was selected by the NHS to be deployed in six hospitals across the country, while also beginning their expansion into the Americas. It’s a testament to the success of the venture builder model and I have no doubt we’ll see more stories like this in the years to come.
Why does this process work for the healthtech sector and are there any specific challenges?
With the quick work required to help solve some of the challenges presented by the pandemic, what has become clear is that ventures born out of this model were ahead of the curve and trusted by institutions because they went through a rigorous process before being started. For example, some of our venture built companies, such as Apricity, the world’s first virtual fertility clinic, and Air Doctor, a platform that connects travellers to medical professionals while abroad, were well positioned from the get go because of our process. They survived the various phases, beginning with a ready-made business idea and working up towards becoming innovative, successful, and sometimes even game changing companies in the sector.
The challenge they now face is how to adjust to life and business in the aftermath of the pandemic. Problems remain, for example in telemedicine, where the number of offerings has boomed over the last year, but the quality of the experiences they provide and the guidance they deliver varies. To continue growing longer-term, these companies need to ensure a high-quality user experience and find ways to make their services effective for everyone. New problems will surely arise, and it’ll be up to the growing number of venture builders to ensure that the truly innovative ideas that can solve them become a reality.
What can we expect from the company in the future?
Without giving too much away, we are interested in the mental health space and how technology can be deployed to innovate this market. But there are a host of other areas – such as the menopause – that we believe are ready to be disrupted. In other words, watch this space.