IOMED is a Barcelona-based data-processing company that works to accelerate certain processes in clinical research. The company applies algorithms for processing natural language in medical records in order to create intra-hospital databases that are fully structured and coded. The goal? For hospitals to be able to use this information in clinical research. Javier de Oca, co-founder, CEO and Business Developer of IOMED, explains his early interest in entrepreneurship and how he has faced challenges after starting up the company.
I’ve had entrepreneurship in my mind ever since I started studying. In fact, in my second year at university I founded a student association with some of my classmates to promote awareness of the fact that entrepreneurship is a good way to put your university degree to use.
After I had been working for a few years, my partner thought we should find a way to replace the data-processing methods used in hospitals in our area nowadays for research. For example, to conduct a study, some doctors are still inputting data from medical histories into Excel sheets. We thought there had to be a way to do this automatically using the computer. So, I already had the motivation but that was when we saw the opportunity and started developing IOMED into what it is today.
It will probably have to do with the many times we have pivoted as a company. We started the company and we tried to market the original idea in several ways until we realized that our first approach wasn’t quite right. This led us to rethink the company completely, refocusing our business, the need we wanted to cover and how we wanted to do it. We went from a very theory-based approach to a more practical one, geared towards the research activity we actually have at hospitals today and with a much clearer sales target and business model.
Sincerely, the best advice I’ve ever been given is to “Follow the money”. Look for who will pay for your product and you’ll find the answer. Healthcare is a peculiar sector and it isn’t always clear who pays for things. The user consuming a service isn’t necessarily the one paying for it. It is also a sector going through hard times, financially. In this complicated situation, when you start up a business that has to be financially sustainable and make a profit, you can find yourself in tight situations like the ones we experienced before the decision I described earlier. And that was the advice that encouraged us to make that decision.
In the very near future, we will be closing a round of funding that we hope to announce soon. In the middle term, we will use that funding to expand in Europe and reach hospitals that speak other languages. Clinical research is an activity in which important studies are normally international and we don’t want to be left out of them.