One of the entrepreneurs I had the opportunity to speak with at this years #StartupVillage2018 was Michael Prepelitskiy, Founder of Onetrak. We talked about startup infrastructure within Russia and about some of his wearable diagnostic tools.
Thanks for talking to us today Michael. We look forward to learning more about your Russian based business. You don’t sound very Russian however?
It’s a really interesting journey actually! I was born in the Soviet Union and in 1989 my parents packed me up and brought me to the United States. Then I lived there until 2013. In 2013 I was fed up of working in the Venture sector and I had my own Seed Stage Fund in the New Jersey and frankly I was fed up of giving my money away to start ups that just kept blowing my money. I figured if they can burn through my money so well, I should give it go myself. I decided to begin my own start up and I still have a few start up projects running now too and I came to Russia as I saw it as a potential market and we started to build it up in 2014.
Do you think its easier to start up in Russia than it is in the United States?
It’s not a case of easier or harder to start up, you can start any-where, like your living room. The starting up is the easy part, the hard part is the market. There is a standard format where you need to invest a bulk of your capital in marketing rather than in R & D. I’m talking about 70-80% investment in marketing alone. This is simply to acquire a name for yourself. The product itself could be rubbish but the marketing part is the expensive part. It normally doesn’t allow you a lot of capital for the R & D, you know like for the licencing, for quality engineers and things like that, etc.
What I have found important about Russia is it’s a very open market, an open playing field with a lot of investment opportunities for the young, energetic and evolving markets. You have 145 million people that are yearning for quality products because in Russia most major producers have been ignoring the market. At best what they do is translate the product, the just change the language, they don’t adapt to it. The society here in Russia is very unique, it takes a certain personality to survive a 14 degree late May day.
How have you found the infrastructure in Russia to support your start up?
Russia is amazing for that! In 2013 the International Forbes Magazine called Moscow one of the best top 10 startup cities in the world. You have organisations like Skolkovo Foundation and many other investment and Seed stage funds and lots of infrastructure that allows young start-uppers to evolve and grow to that MVP. There are several companies that provided massive low percentage loans as well. All you need is an adequate and intelligent Business Plan. The way it works here is if you work through these supports and programmes you normally get a green light to Government purchases. You aren’t guaranteed of course, but definitely moved up the list. The logic is we need to support these up and coming businesses because ultimately, they are what fuels the economy.
Please tell us what business you have brought to Russia?
My company is called Onetrak and it has developed wearable technology. We started out with basic fitness trackers and we have evolved to what we call “smart bracelets”. We have also now developed blood pressure monitors; home EKG units and we have another wearable blood pressure monitor coming on the market. We have a mattress pad that you lay on that measures your heart and your breathing patterns and the concept is that we collect all the stats into one unified system that we build into an artificial intelligence to move all this data collection into what Telemedicine should be.
Telemedicine is a new federal law that was passed here at the beginning of this year. The concept is you’re able to get a consultation from your Doctor via something like Skype or any video conference network. Our products will collect accurate data that will be valuable to the Doctor to get an accurate diagnosis. It’s meant to collect the data 24/7, 365 days of the year so that you can highlight any abnormalities when they arise.
How do the Doctors collect the data?
They are given a portal which is connected to the CRM system that allows them to view the data from the Doctors smartphone. For the elderly we have another solution that makes it much easier and simpler, as many won’t have a smart phone and the Doctors collect this data using a remote monitoring system and they are able to see what is going on. This means when the patient calls them the Doctor can ascertain what their blood pressure was like, the medicine they were taking, how were they eating, what their sleeping was like prior to these ailments appearing.
All of this was built upon my own life experience. I was growing up with Grandparents and the frustrations I saw them face with both the Russian and American medical systems. The way the Doctor currently functions is that they see the patient in a certain window of time and prescribe lots of medications and ask them to come back in a few weeks time. Unless they have constant monitoring and they have multiple points of data – like keeping them in hospital they cannot build an accurate diagnosis. It simply isn’t possible to put everyone that needs it into a hospital bed. Medicine is meant to be preventative and currently it isn’t always possible to do that.
How accurate are these tools? At the end of the day we have these trained professionals like Doctors and Nurses in order to get the best care. The layman maybe using and reading these tools incorrectly?
We are by no means trying to replace the Doctor. That’s not our goal. Our goal is to be an instrument in the Doctors hands. We are working with several Universities, one of them is the Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University and working with others. We are basing our research and algorithms on proven research by top universities in Russia. With all this, we know we will never replace the expertise that somebody who goes to school for 8 years can achieve. It’s a tool rather than a diagnostic.
Thanks very much for your time Michael.