Impressing a venture capitalist with their business pitches earned a senior-year nanotechnology engineering team $50,000 in financial backing.
Capstone Design team Scribenote is one of the winners of this year’s Palihapitiya Venture Creation Fund Award sponsored by Chamath Palihapitiya (BASc '99, Electrical Engineering), founder and CEO of Social Capital.
Besides the money, split equally among team members, the award also includes mentorship, training, and advice from successful entrepreneurs.
Simplifying data collection
The concept for Scribenote, automated record-keeping software, came to Ryan Gallagher after hearing about the time it took his sister to catch up on documentation after working long days at her veterinarian practice, an issue he says is common to medical professionals.
“Every clinician I know and the hundreds I’ve interviewed spend more than 25 percent of their workday writing medical documentation,” says Gallagher, who is graduating with a BASc in nanotechnology engineering this spring. “This leads to burnout, increased wait times and increased costs of care.”
Gallagher shadowed his sister at her clinic and discovered that most of the information entered manually into an animal’s medical record after an appointment had already discussed.
He saw the duplication in information gathering as “a huge opportunity” to come up with a solution for simplifying the data collection process.
“If records can be completed by just listening to the conversation between veterinarian and animal owner and extracting the key clinical information from it, then technology that makes this process automatic would change the game,” he says.
Scribenote’s software transcribes each client conversation into text categorizing the appointment data. A backup is automatically made of the recordings for future reference.
Gallagher, along with the other Scribenote co-founders – Hashem Al Momani, Mohamed Ayman El-Naggar and Alina Pavel, also all graduating from nanotechnology engineering this spring – plan to use about half of the award money to support members working on their startup this summer. The other half will go towards paying a full-time medical scribe as well as sales, marketing and product development efforts.
Future growth potential
Scribenote is focused on the veterinarian profession right now because Gallagher says there are fewer regulations involved when handling animal medical data than there are for human medical data.
“It’s a much smaller market and is completely privatized, meaning there are less bureaucracy and red tape in the early sales process, allowing us to get a foothold into clinical markets quickly,” he says.
By targeting veterinarians first, Scribenote members plan to build core technology that will eventually be available to other clinicians like physicians, nurses and other health services providers. And Gallagher is confident there is a large market for it.
“When we tell healthcare professionals about Scribenote, their reaction is almost always ‘Wait, really? When can I start using it?’” he says.