Rotem Shor of Medisafe: “Start with market research and understand your target market very closely

If you can find a good consultant that will be able to guide you and help to connect you with the right people and investors, it will save time and energy. But you can also learn from those around you — learn from customers, partners, friends, family. They can also share valuable insight to help improve your […]

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If you can find a good consultant that will be able to guide you and help to connect you with the right people and investors, it will save time and energy. But you can also learn from those around you — learn from customers, partners, friends, family. They can also share valuable insight to help improve your product and your process. In the end, people will be the ones using your product so who better to learn from.

As a part of our series called “Meet The Inventors”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Rotem Shor, CTO of Medisafe.

As CTO, Rotem works with major drug manufacturers to help patients manage their treatment journey and medication therapies based on each user’s regimen, condition, demographics, social determinants and specific circumstances. Since its inception, Medisafe has advanced the role of digital companions to become a primary source in driving patient engagement and capturing key data on medication usage and health trends.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your “childhood backstory”?

I was really active as a kid, heavy into sports. I participated in kung fu, and was captain of my basketball team that went on to win the national championship. I grew up with a big family, with three brothers living in a small home in Haifa, Israel. My father was an engineer and my mother was a teacher, with entrepreneur skills of her own that later joined my father in creating their own business.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

You won’t succeed if you don’t try. I feel like that sums up how I have approached major decisions in my life. It inspires me to never give up, to be willing to make mistakes, and to try new things, because you won’t know unless you try.

Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

I love the book, “Oh the Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss. Its simplicity helps to make a really complex message accessible to everyone. We all have dreams and ideas, and at times find ourselves wondering whether we should take the risk, book the trip, choose a new path, etc. But with Dr. Seuss, it all seems possible.

Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. What was the catalyst that inspired you to invent your product? Can you share the story of your “ah ha” moment with us?

In 2012, my father suffered a serious health emergency when he accidentally took an extra dose of insulin. As a diabetic it immediately put my father’s life in grave danger. We got him to the hospital and luckily, he was ok, and remains healthy today. But it sparked an idea with me and my brother that there should be some way to track these things to prevent overdose and missed doses for patients. We didn’t know of any such existing solution, so we decided to build that solution. Medisafe was born to help patients manage complex prescription schedules, and to provide information and promote collaboration throughout the healthcare industry. Today we have more than 7MM users on Medisafe helping to manage their health.

There is no shortage of good ideas out there. Many people have good ideas all the time. But people seem to struggle in taking a good idea and translating it into an actual business. How did you overcome this challenge?

Start by understanding where you want to go. Don’t focus as much on the invention, but more on the issue you want to solve. In our case, we wanted to solve the issue of medication management and personalized health guidance specific to each patient. Invest in thought mapping of what challenges you want to solve, how you will address these issues, and how a user would navigate through your solution to solve these issues. By focusing on solving these needs, we developed a digital health platform that incorporates each patient’s specific needs.

Often when people think of a new idea, they dismiss it saying someone else must have thought of it before. How would you recommend that someone go about researching whether or not their idea has already been created?

I think it’s important to understand the industry and space in which a new invention is going to operate. There are so many different industries, segments, and niche markets, with customers for each, it’s essential to first understand where the need lies — is it in healthcare, technology, finance, home goods? Is this a US, European, or global issue? Once you understand where your segment lies, then you can home in on whether or not an idea has already been created. Then, if it has, you have a clear call of how your invention will make things better. How will this new invention improve on what currently exists, and further enhance the industry and segment.

Did you have a role model or a person who inspired you to persevere despite the hardships involved in taking the risk of selling a new product?

My mother is my biggest role model. I have seen her serve as the heart of our family my whole life, and no matter the obstacle, she is always full of love and energy to do whatever it takes for our family. Following the tech crash of the early 2000s, as my father was laid off and searching for work, my mother was the unifying spirit that held our family together and enabled us to survive financially. Her spirit of perseverance and positive outlook inspired me throughout any personal or professional challenges, and I hope I have a little bit of that in me.

For the benefit of our readers, can you share the story, and outline the steps that you went through, from when you thought of the idea, until it finally landed on the store shelves? In particular we’d love to hear about how to file a patent, how to source a good manufacturer, and how to find a retailer to distribute it.

While I was working for an Israeli securities company, I began work on what would become Medisafe. I had an hour commute each day by train, so I spent every commute to and from work on mapping out the idea and how the Medisafe platform would work. Then when I got home, my living room became the war room. I soon met up with a mentor who helped to guide the development and launch. We soon joined a Microsoft accelerator from day one we were able to gain a lot of traction. We relied a lot on user support and feedback in developing iterations and updates to guide the development of the platform. The early support and feedback became invaluable in shaping Medisafe and how we went to market.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

During the development process, we were testing a new dashboard of our platform. We were set to officially launch Medisafe the next day and I saw there were several other servers operating on the system. To clear up space, I began to delete the servers. As I returned to the work on the new platform, I discovered I had accidentally deleted all servers, including the ones that all of our operations were on. I spent the entire evening rebuilding everything I we had been building for the past year or more.

The early stages must have been challenging. Are you able to identify a “tipping point” after making your invention, when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?

Because of what Medisafe does, helping patients manage their medication therapies with innovative, personalized, and continuous guidance, we were able to capture the trust of patients very early on. From the day we launched, we received tremendous feedback from users, and they helped to make it better and better. That feedback was really rewarding, and I felt it was acknowledgement that we were on to something valuable. But once we got our first paying customer, support from a healthcare system, was when I knew we would be an actual company. We were no longer just an idea.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Invented My Product” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

Let’s imagine that a reader reading this interview has an idea for a product that they would like to invent. What are the first few steps that you would recommend that they take?

Start with market research and understand your target market very closely. This includes making sure you complete a competitive analysis to know who you will go up against and what those obstacles will be. But don’t let it keep you from starting. Even if your product isn’t the first of its kind, make sure it offers something different or does it better than your competitors. Understand that the journey to launching a new product is a roller coaster, with ups and downs, but you first

There are many invention development consultants. Would you recommend that a person with a new idea hire such a consultant, or should they try to strike out on their own?

If you can find a good consultant that will be able to guide you and help to connect you with the right people and investors, it will save time and energy. But you can also learn from those around you — learn from customers, partners, friends, family. They can also share valuable insight to help improve your product and your process. In the end, people will be the ones using your product so who better to learn from.

What are your thoughts about bootstrapping vs looking for venture capital? What is the best way to decide if you should do either one?

Like I mentioned before, it’s important to hold true to your vision. If you are working with a venture capital firm, make sure you remain in control of your product and they share the same vision for your company — both where it is now and where you want to take it. Bootstrapping will be more of a challenge and is likely to take longer, but it means you have greater control of your vision and the outcome of the product.

Ok. We are nearly done. Here are our final questions. How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

I believe we have. We consistently get high ratings from patients within both the Apple and Google App stores, with comments on how we have helped to save their lives. Medication management is a 300B dollars issue across the globe, and our free app for patients takes the guess work out of which medications to take and potential interactions that may cause complications. Numerous patients have said that using Medisafe has helped to make navigating issues like cancer so much easier. It’s those comments that have made all the challenges and struggles to launch a new invention worthwhile.

You are an inspiration to a great many people. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I definitely want to end the stigma of what it means to have a chronic condition, and the shame that can be associated with taking medications to help manage a health issue, whether it’s a physical or mental health issue. I think that pharma companies have helped to reduce the stigma on managing a number of physical health ailments with more widespread advertising and implementing digital health tools to reach patients where they are. If we can increase support for patients of all types managing any condition, we can make the world a more compassionate place.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

As a fellow inventor and innovator, I would be interested in meeting Elon Musk. I would also add as a fellow basketball player, I would love to meet Michael Jordan and learn how he transformed his remarkable skills on the court to a successful brand empire and philanthropy.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

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