James Hamet, founder and CEO of Vistimlabs, discussed how he and his team use AI and biomarkers to help clinicians and patients predict and track cognitive decline such that early detection and monitoring is available for effective disease management.




Show Notes

[01:23] James discussed the inspiration behind the founding of Vistim Labs, the company’s mission and value proposition
[04:32] James discussed the market opportunity of Alzheimer diagnostics
[08:14] An overview of market size of Alzheimer diagnostics
[10:44] James compared and contrasted the cost effectiveness of Vistim Labs vs. PET scan
[13:19] Vistim Labs’ go to market strategy was discussed
[15:29] The regulatory landscape of the industry was discussed
[16:10] James shared his fundraising experience and highlighted the importance of understanding the motivation of investors
[21:11] James discussed the current operating focus of the company
[24:24] The core KPIs helping Vistim Labs successful were discussed.  These metrics help inform him if clinicians see the value of using Vistim Labs by tracking patient satisfaction and outcomes.
[27:04] James went deeper into explaining the KPIs
[29:05] Conversation on AI regulation
[33:36] James shared his wisdom on how to balance moving fast and providing accurate diagnosis to patients by building a strong team and being transparent with experts in the field and competitors


Insights on Fundraising

I’ve raised almost a million dollars this year.  It’s also a tough amount to raise. It’s easier to raise when you’re raising more.  Part of it, I think, is the riskiness of the business. When you’re a very early business, when there’s a lot of risk, the type of investor that you’re going to attract is the investor who invests in a bunch of businesses, and is willing to handle the risk.  And so they’ll invest in a whole bunch of businesses, very small sized checks. And so when you’re fundraising at that level, you need to make sure that you’re talking to a large number of groups. You need to make sure that you’re fit for their thesis. And again, their thesis has to be that they invest in a bunch of these small companies where they don’t know if it’s going to succeed or not. I would say that at the phase where I’m at now. I am targeting investors who are more strategically aligned. I’m targeting investors who like to make follow on investment. And I’m targeting investors who have made multiple investments in my space and trying to make sure that it’s relevant to them in their thesis. Why do they invest? I would say that’s the most important part of fundraising understanding. I also started a company called Nurable. I was one of the co-founders.  We did a fantastic job with fundraising. The company actually has fundraised quite substantially more since I’ve left the business. While I was there, we raised about 9 million dollars. and it was a similar strategy of talking to many investors, seeing who likes to take risks. At the second stage, you know, seeing who could be a strategic investor. Which investor brings what strengths to our table. An investor is not just money. How do they help the business? Some fantastic hardware investors? For that hardware business. I have to say that my fundraising experience this time versus last time, I am more prepared this time I feel more successful this time. but that’s also because the environment has changed my fundraising, for my last business was much easier. It was definitely like an easier process. I think that we had a little bit less preparation, although you know I’m speaking for me personally, I was less prepared last time then. Certainly I feel that we need quite a lot of preparation much more than we needed before to achieve the same raise amounts. So the environment’s definitely gotten harder.


On KPIs tracking towards the company’s mission

The KPI that has been the most interesting for us so far has been the number of patients that our test has been performed on.  At the moment that KPI is about 150 patients. The thing that the place where I get really excited is, once we are deployed in the clinic, that KPI is really not changed.  Month by month we did 2 clinical studies they were several years ago. At this point, you know, we are doing analyses, some of which we haven’t done yet, some of which we have done before. The KPI moving forward will continue to be number of patients. Then we will have a new KPI, which is number of clinics. Then we’ll have another KPI after that, which is the clinical impact. And by impact I mean a couple of different things. What is the average time it takes for a patient who uses our products to get their diagnosis? What is the average cost of their diagnosis?  If you include the whole diagnostic journey up until that point. and what is their cost of care after diagnosis? And even though some of these things are less dependent on us and more dependent on externals, such as cost of care after diagnosis, they are still metrics that inform our strategy and inform our success because if we are doing well, then all of these numbers across the board are decreasing. Patients are getting faster diagnosis. The cost of care is decreasing. The cost of intervention is decreasing because the diagnosis is made early into the disease, so the disease isn’t as severe and then that’s how I make sure that we are successful. That’s how I make sure, at least from a financial perspective. The payers are gonna be happy with us. It’s how I make sure that the clinicians see the value of using us in their clinic, that they are truly prioritizing their spend well, that they are in increasing patient satisfaction and patient outcomes, and then finally, for the patient that they are getting the right care as fast as possible. And that speed is increasing every day.


On Balancing Speed and Product Quality

There are a couple of things keeping me up at night. One is, are we moving fast enough? It’s very difficult to commercialize a clinical technology. And one thing that kills clinical technologies is that how slowly they can move. Moving slowly means not necessarily iterating quickly on the product. It means it cannot doing sufficient validation, it can mean not understanding the real world implications of the technology. And so this is one reason why I want to move very fast. Another thing, though, is that in moving fast I have to make sure that we are meeting our internally set expectations that we are remaining an ethical company. That’s very important to me. I want to make sure that we’re not misleading anyone with our technology. I would hate to participate and contribute to misdiagnosis of patients. That would be horrible for me. And so I have to balance my desire to move quickly with our ability to be fully prepared for the next steps of our journey and one thing that in particular keeps me up at night is knowing that I don’t have all the answers. Even in situations where I think we could move faster, maybe we shouldn’t and in other situations where I think we should take our time, maybe we actually should be moving faster. And this is just the nature of the game. This is very normal in startups, but it’s particularly timing is particularly important for clinical companies because of the ramifications of doing an improper job. So I am more aware of this risk side of my business.  Now, do I actually stay up at night worried about this and the reason that? I still sleep well because I have surrounded myself with a team of experts. I am constantly challenging the assumptions that we’re making. I’m constantly putting them into things like clinical impact models where I can communicate my assumptions and where I can make them clear as day. You know what I see their impacts being on healthcare and I can circulate these models with experts in the field. I can circulate them with my partners, with my competitors. with academic researchers who are key opinion leaders, and with so many eyes on my assumptions and all my models. At some point, I do think that crowdsourcing solves the problem of needing to know everything.  And so I don’t think that I necessarily need to have all the answers, because I do believe that I’ve included the right people in the conversation.


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