July 13, 2017
For this article, we had a coffee with Martin, or “Marv” as we call him, who joined WATTx in his role as a Captain of Trajectory (our internal title for entrepreneurs-in-residence). Since the beginning of July, he moved to his new role as a CTO for Loopstock, our latest venture that he is co-founding. We took the opportunity to sit down with him, and discuss his role, his ambitions, and the vision he has for his new venture.
What did you do before WATTx?
I was the CTO of a startup called ‘Plants & machines’ where we developed IoT solutions for horticulture.
What inspired you to join WATTx?
I was really interested in checking out different economic fields to see what kind of problems exist in the world and to find out which of these were worth solving. I want to work on projects that have a big impact, that could help a lot of people with solving problems they have in their daily routine. I think the WATTx approach of looking for problems, observing, and finding opportunity areas is really nice. Here, we start with getting an overview of what’s out there so that we can come up with creative technological solutions that improve people’s lives.
So far, would you say that you’re satisfied with your journey at WATTx?
Yes, it’s been epic and really great. I had a lot of fun working with a lot of very intelligent people, all easy going, all forward thinkers. Nobody is negative, people give constant constructive feedback. Everyone is excited about our process and wants to see it go through.
I want to work on projects that have a big impact, that could help a lot of people with problems they have in their daily routine.
You joined us as a CoT - Captain of Trajectory - can you explain what it means?
I was actually the first CoT WATTx hired, so the role wasn’t too defined when I joined. I started by doing research in various projects and got to know the WATTx’ work process of coming up with new ideas quickly and validating or just killing them just as fast. Killing a project was a bit of a hard thing to do for me in the beginning. But I finally got used to it, and I think it’s the right way to handle innovation projects.
Then I took part in a longer research topic around IoT in hospitals. It was really fun. We’ve been looking at problems that exist in a hospital setting and have paid special attention to the user experience. We started questioning and interviewing a lot of stakeholders inside of hospitals to see what their daily routine was, where they had friction in their work processes, and what their everyday pain points was.
So, it was your choice to join the IoT in Hospitals project?
Yes, Exactly! I was really curious because I didn’t know a lot about hospitals in the beginning. It is such a complex setting, like a manufacturing floor with a different purpose, to heal human beings. It is interesting to see how processes in hospitals are intertwined and how they are all focused on essentially helping people.
I really like the chaos around creating a startup where you have to be involved in everything. You have to be quick and decisive about what you want to do.
How does a normal working day look for you?
I’m usually in the office.
During the research phase of a project, you spend a lot of time finding information on the internet, interviewing different stakeholders, and reading through all the papers you can find or books on the matter. You want to get a scope of what the broader picture is before actually starting to dig deeper.
During the phase that follows the research, you have to process all the information and start looking for potential solutions.
Now that the project I am working on is more concrete, it’s pretty much being a co-founder again. Dealing with all the tasks, even those that are not related to the product development per se, handling day to day operations, talking to pilot project partners, pitching the concept. That is quite exciting. I really like the chaos around creating a startup where you have to be involved in everything. You have to be quick and decisive about what you want to do.
The Loopstock team. From left to right: Wen, Pedro, Marv, Blake, and Tristan.
Can you tell us more about the process, and how you manage to grow an idea into a concept and then to an actual product?
I probably can’t give you a step-by-step instruction on how to solve problems. For me, this has always been a bit of a surprise. You have all this information that you gathered during research, you look at the problems that came out of the various interviews you conducted, and then you cluster the problems and do a lot of Design Thinking to actually structure this knowledge. Suddenly, something pops into your mind. You start thinking about it, you refine the idea in your mind, and when you’re lucky it turns into a solution.
This leads us to Loopstock, our latest venture. Can you tell us more about it?
During the research phase we talked to a lot of stakeholders working in hospitals, especially nurses. We looked at their work processes and discovered that a lot of their time is spent on doing inventory management; counting inventory, restocking, and basically keeping everything in stock so that the hospital operates efficiently. Our findings seemed crazy to me as the main objective of working as a nurse is actually to care for a patient.
As we dug more into the problem we understood that many more stakeholders were involved in inventory management. Not only the nurses but also doctors. We found out that doctors sometimes couldn’t find items they needed to take care of their patients, and instead spent time on running through the different hospital wards, looking for the missing medicine or medical supply.
Then you have hospital’s supply chain managers. They rarely know what is going on in the hospital. Their work is often based on guess work. This is crazy when you consider the fact that inventory amounts to 30% of hospital costs.
Loopstock aims to be Europe’s premiere solution of inventory management in hospitals.
What solution does Loopstock offer to the inventory problem?
We track the inventory through RFID tags and use RFID scanners inside the storage rooms. Thus we can tell how many products are stored in each room and in which quantities, as well as which supplies leave those rooms. We also track the expiration dates of medicine so that we can make sure that nothing goes to waste anymore. Finally, we provide the supply chain manager with real-time insights on what stock is available and therefore provide them with more flexibility in doing their job.
“We want to make sure that nurses and doctors are able to do the job they love: to care for their patients.”
Loopstock provides value for the management of hospitals… but who’s the end user?
The supply chain manager benefits the most from the insights we bring to the hospital. But in the end, the ultimate goal is to reduce the overall time spent on inventory by especially nurses but also doctors. Loopstock removes the need to count supplies. We want to make sure that nurses and doctors are able to do the job they love: to care for their patients.
What are the next big steps?
The next big thing to do for me is finding a co-founder to team up with. Then, together, we will have to hire a team of developers to improve the product, iterate and release it to the market in the next few months.
Martin is currently looking for a CEO to build Loopstock with. If you’re interested check out our job ad and apply here.
A venture builder’s take on the “Why” and “How” to fail quickly for traditional companies...
It’s time we stop comparing ourselves to Silicon Valley and start offering something different
Each month, we, WATTx, organize a two-day internal hackathon.