Entrepreneur Maryam Sadeghi is on a mission. She believes in a better future when it comes to detecting and treating skin cancer. With a suite of innovative technologies, Maryam and her team at MetaOptima are putting new tools in the hands of patients and physicians that enable early detection and prevention of the disease.
How it started
Sadeghi was completing a PhD in medical imaging at Simon Fraser University (SFU) when she realized a number of issues plagued the process of patient assessment. Physicians followed different approaches to diagnoses based on their experience and training, and a heavy patient backlog posed a threat to early-detection of skin cancer.
“I thought there should be a more efficient way to share information between physicians and patients and provide more of a scientific standard for diagnosis. People shouldn’t have to wait months for an assessment,” says Sadeghi.
Sadeghi set out to build a tool to empower both patients and physicians. In 2015, she launched MoleScope – a device that attaches to smartphones and tablets that patients can use to monitor their skin though imaging analytics. Since 70% of skin cancer cases discovered by patients or loved ones, Sadeghi recognized the need to provide individuals with the tools to check their skin.
Skin imaging technology gets smarter with every photo
After taking a high-quality image with the Molescope device, users can send the image for consultation to a medical professional in their area. The healthcare expert will receive the image through an intelligent skin analytics platform called DermEngine. This software allows professionals to track and monitor spots, organize patient data, provide consultations and stay connected to their colleagues. This provides healthcare specialists with access to innovative analytics while improving their workflow and letting them focus on what matters: their patients.
Sadeghi and the team are dedicated to enhancing the platform’s ability to identify problem cases by continuing to evolve DermEngine’s technology. The platform is designed to become smarter over time and provide skin care professionals with support to enhance their consultations.
“We’ve worked machine learning and AI components into our system algorithm, so every data point added the platform helps the system become more adept at pinpointing skin issues,” says Sadeghi.
How the Venture Acceleration Program helped
Sadeghi was a first-time entrepreneur in starting MetaOptima. Recognizing the need to connect with mentors and peers to set the business up for success, she turned to Wavefront for support.
“Before coming to Wavefront, I didn’t even have a pitch prepared! I had a dream and a passion to make it work but no formal business training, so I needed some help to get things rolling,” says Sadeghi.
In 2014, she enrolled in the Venture Acceleration Program, delivered out of Wavefront’s Vancouver office. Through the program she worked through new concepts to lay the groundwork for critical business systems like human resources, marketing, finance and operations. A business mentor personally walked her through the process of putting concepts learned through the course into action, a benefit Sadeghi cites as a game changer for the business.
“Being part of the Wavefront community, including the peers, mentors and instructors, was like being surrounded like a family of experts. The accelerator program was a really important part of our formation, as we learned by example from so many amazing individuals,” says Sadeghi.
Where MetaOptima is today
MetaOptima shows no signs of slowing down. What started as a team of 4 at Wavefront has grown into 22. And by the end of 2017, the company plans to add another 10 to the team.
With over 3,800 medical professionals and 120,000 patients using the system, MetaOptima has found their footing in the market. While they’re currently headquartered in Vancouver, the team is are actively working to expand business operations overseas by opening offices in Australia and the U.S.
“We have a big vision for the company to revolutionize how the dermatology practice is evolving. We want it to be affordable, accessible, holistic and efficient. I can’t think of anything more exciting than bringing this dream to reality,” says Sadeghi.