In today’s Startup Spotlight, we have the privilege of celebrating the remarkable journey of Morris Nguyen, the visionary force behind Predicate – an awe-inspiring startup from RAP XVII.

In the realm of healthcare, where every minute can mean the difference between life and death, the value of informational data and innovative solutions that drive evidence-based and early diagnoses cannot be overstated. Driven by a passion to revolutionize the landscape of healthcare, one entrepreneur has embarked on a journey to address critical gaps in early disease detection and treatment. Meet Morris Nguyen, the founder and CEO of Predicate. Predicate is a visionary health data and implementation science company pioneering the OpenDx platform.

At the heart of Predicate’s mission lies a commitment to leveraging technology to bring evidence-based care to every patient, especially those in underserved communities. The OpenDx platform, a groundbreaking integration of wearable biosensors and Natural Language Processing (NLP), holds the promise of enhancing the early detection of critical illnesses, such as sepsis. This initiative is not merely about innovation; it’s about saving lives and alleviating the burden on healthcare systems. In this segment of Startup Spotlight we will delve into Morris’s entrepreneurial journey, learning about challenges he has faced along the way and what valuable advice he has for anyone that wishes to embark on their own startup journey.

Could you tell us a little bit about your company?

Predicate is a health data and implementation science company pioneering the OpenDx platform, which uniquely integrates wearable biosensors and Natural Language Processing (NLP) to enhance the early detection of critical illnesses like sepsis. We define mission success as bringing evidence-based, technology-enabled care to every patient, especially those in underserved communities.

What inspired you to start your own company?

I wanted to address the critical gaps in healthcare, such as delayed sepsis diagnoses, which contribute to high rates of mortality and economic burden that could be avoidable. Sepsis is the primary cause of 1 in 5 deaths globally, and 1 in 3 in-hospital deaths in the U.S. Effective treatment requires fast, accurate detection. In fact, every hour that treatment is delayed, the odds of mortality increase 7.6%.

What previous experiences influence your role today?

As a physician, I’ve encountered firsthand the challenges of diagnosing complex conditions like sepsis, which often presents with symptoms that mimic other less critical conditions and progresses unpredictably, complicating early detection. I have lost patients to sepsis. I have lost family to sepsis.

This experience was compounded by the limitations of current diagnostic methods in under-resourced settings lacking immediate lab tests or advanced technologies. Both aspects of my past experiences shaped my transition from clinical practice to leveraging my insights as a physician working directly with technology companies. My goal is to innovate solutions that not only enhance patient outcomes but also alleviate the pressures of prolonged hospital stays, resource overuse, and the financial strain on healthcare systems.

What are the biggest challenges you’ve encountered as a startup founder this far, and how did you overcome them?

As a startup founder, I’ve navigated a series of challenges, emblematic of the entrepreneurial journey. Access to funding has been a recurrent hurdle, a common plight for many startups seeking to transition from concept to market. Determining which aspects of the business to prioritize emerged as another significant challenge, particularly in the absence of key roles, such as a CTO, whose vision and expertise are crucial for steering product development and technological direction.

Articulating our value proposition in a manner that resonates with the right investors and mentors requires a nuanced understanding of our market and the unique benefits we offer. This process was iterative and involved refining our pitch to highlight the impact of our solutions on healthcare delivery and outcomes.

Other common challenges included managing the high expectations of stakeholders, navigating the complexities of the regulatory landscape in healthcare, and maintaining the agility to pivot when necessary without deviating from our core mission.

I focused on building a strong, versatile team capable of tackling diverse aspects of our business. We sought feedback from potential users and stakeholders early and often, enabling us to refine our approach and product offering. Networking with industry experts and potential mentors became a priority, providing us with valuable insights and guidance. Most importantly, we cultivated a culture of adaptability and learning within our team, ensuring that we remained responsive to feedback and market demands.

Do you have any mentors or role models who have inspired you while you have been building your business?

Throughout my journey as a startup founder, I’ve had the privilege of being inspired and guided by numerous individuals, both within and outside the healthcare sector. Their domain expertise has been invaluable in shaping both my perspective and approach to building a business. A testament to the rich mentorship I’ve received is reflected in Predicate’s composition—our leadership and scientific advisory teams include 7 MDs and a PhD, all of whom play a pivotal role in guiding the successful development and deployment of OpenDx. These mentors and role models have not only provided insights specific to their fields but have also contributed to a broader understanding of what it takes to innovate and succeed in a complex landscape like healthcare technology. Their collective wisdom and experience have been instrumental in navigating the challenges and opportunities we’ve encountered along the way.

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs and future startup founders based on your own experiences and lessons learned?

Based on my experiences and the lessons I’ve learned through the development of Predicate and the OpenDx platform, my advice to aspiring entrepreneurs and future startup founders is multi-faceted:

1. Embrace Collaboration: Surround yourself with experts who complement your skills and knowledge. The formation of Predicate’s team, including 7 MDs and a PhD, underscores the value of diverse expertise in tackling complex challenges and driving innovation.

2. Focus on Problem-Solving: Always center your business around solving a meaningful problem. Our commitment to improving early detection and treatment of critical illnesses like sepsis with OpenDx demonstrates the importance of addressing real-world issues that can have a significant impact on society.

3. Be Adaptable: The startup journey is full of unexpected challenges. Learning to pivot and adapt your strategy, as we did in prioritizing the development and clear articulation of our value proposition, is crucial for navigating the complexities of the market and regulatory environments.

4. Seek and Act on Feedback: Regularly engage with your target market, stakeholders, and mentors for feedback. This practice has been pivotal in refining OpenDx’s development, ensuring it meets the needs of healthcare providers and patients effectively.

5. Persevere Through Funding Challenges: Access to capital is a common hurdle. Cultivate resilience and be creative in funding strategies, whether through bootstrapping, grants, or pitching to investors who share your vision and understand the value of your solution.

6. Prioritize Ethical Considerations: Especially in healthcare, integrating technology such as AI demands a commitment to ethics, transparency, and patient privacy. Let these principles guide your decision-making and product development processes.

7. Communicate Your Vision Clearly: Articulating your mission and value proposition in a way that resonates with your audience is key. This clarity helps in aligning with the right investors, mentors, and partners who can propel your venture forward.

We are excited to see what the future holds for Predicate and Morris Nguyen!