THE HANGAR by NUS Enterprise Entrepreneurs Feature — Apeiron Technology
In this week’s Entrepreneurs Feature, we speak to Dr Daniel, one of the co-founders of Apeiron Technology, which explores the infinite possibilities in healthcare, developing sustainable solutions for everyone.
Here’s a brief bio of Dr Daniel: The man has over 10 years of working experiences with Hewlett Packard, Okura Flexible Automation, Micron Semiconductor, and National Instruments. He has completed his Engineering PhD as well as a Bachelor’s degree (with 1st Class Honours no less!) from the National University of Singapore.
1. What is Apeiron and how did the idea behind it come about?
Arun and I founded Apeiron Technology Pte Ltd in September 2015, but the roots of Apeiron Technology started back in 2006 when we were working for Hewlett-Packard Singapore. We continued to keep in touch with each other while pursuing their Bachelor and Doctorate degrees at NUS.
Towards the end of our PhD study in 2015, we had a conversation with our PhD advisor Prof Tan, the third co-founder of Apeiron Technology, regarding our future after graduation. During the conversation, all of us realised that we shared a passion for technology and for solving big social challenges. By focusing on healthcare, we translated their passion into a vision that was outlined in business proposals shared with NUS Enterprise. The award of practicum grants was the first big endorsement of our ideas. We were enrolled into Lean LaunchPad (LLP) Singapore which was a 10-week programme piloted by NUS Enterprise to help research scientists and engineers turn their innovative technologies into commercially viable products and feasible business ventures. Through face-to-face interviews with healthcare professionals and management teams during LLP, we managed to validate a niche market need with the potential to scale globally: an in-patient fall prevention solution. In 2016, we received the Action Community for Entrepreneurship (ACE) Grant from Spring Singapore to continue the development of iMOS, the Intelligent Monitoring System, to reduce the number of inpatient falls in hospitals.
After receiving the grant, we started working on a pilot project with an acute care hospital in Singapore. We are incubating with NUS Enterprise and are now focusing on completing the pilot project and getting ready to launch iMOS in Singapore.
2. Describe your typical day.
The day is not regular. During some periods, my schedule can be totally full 24 hours a day and 7 day a week with meetings, development (business and technical), presentation, and pilot deployment. Those periods are similar to fire-fighting. I started the day with business/customer/team meetings. After that, I went to the hospital and collected new data. Following which, I went back to office to fetch the new data into our Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) engine and left the processing engine running. Then, I went home and experiment different parameters of our A.I. engine in my laptop. To monitor the A.I. engine, analyse results, and iterate A.I. with different parameters, I remotely accessed my office. After that, I slept for a couple of hours before the next day cycle began. In short, I was simultaneously running business development, pilot deployment, A.I. engine, and A.I. iteration. Fortunately, during some periods, I have extra bandwidth left for networking and strategising. These periods can be labeled as reflective periods.
3. How did Apeiron Technology build its customer base?
We have used the direct approach to build our potential customer base. Our contacts were through hot introductions and cold callings. Our customer base was built just to validate market. I would like to highlight two mistakes here. 1) After validating the market, we focused on working with one of the hospitals to run a pilot and stopped communicating with other hospitals to focus on the pilot. After a year, we realised that we were indirectly giving unhealthy control to the hospital and the relationship had been off-balance. 2) It is important to have an advisor who is familiar with the healthcare landscape to assist in navigation and advise on its unwritten norms.
4. What are some of the greatest challenges in the course of your entrepreneurial journey and what did you learn from them?
I have been working 12 years before my entrepreneurial journey. A big paradigm shift occurred. I give you three examples: you work to earn becomes you invest yourself to build a good business. Yearly timescale suddenly becomes in term of daily and weekly. Specialist becomes generalist. The challenge is how to comfortably live and enjoy in the new paradigm.
5. What is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
1) Learning and Mistakes. There are plenty to learn. Reversible mistakes are okay. Just be careful about irreversible mistakes such as regulation and relationships. 2) The self-discovery journey. You may face to your innermost insecurities and you have a good opportunity to learn how to deal with them. 3) Interesting diverse people. You will be communicating with people from all over the world, with various interests and personalities. The more you connect with them, the more interesting you will find them.
6. What line of work do you think you would be in if you weren’t an entrepreneur?
I have been dreaming and preparing myself emotionally, intellectually, and financially over 8 years before I fully jump in. I have chosen Entrepreneurship as my career choice 8 years ago.
7. What are the benefits of being part of THE HANGAR by NUS Enterprise?
There are many benefits. The top three benefits for me are 1) its launching platform/incubation space, 2) its credibility, and 3) its connections.
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