(Photo courtesy of Juan González)
Juan González sees one glaring difference between Spain and the U.S.
Just like America, Spain has plenty of ideas, entrepreneurs, investors and even accelerators to support startups.
But, he says, “The support from the environment, the willingness to take risks, is the biggest difference. Here, they don’t shut the door in your face as soon as you say it’s a social network.”
As cofounder of InsightMedi, González has seen this firsthand. The company, which he cofounded while living in Madrid, Spain, is a photo-sharing network for doctors.
"Everyone speaks image in the medical world."
“Startups have a really high risk of failure, but when you are trying to grow a social network your risk is higher,” said González, who is originally from Venezuela.
InsightMedi has already had a taste of early success. Capitalizing on the fact that doctors and nurses already send images un-securely when seeking second opinions, the product gained 20,000 users in multiple countries, including a big community in India. Importantly, the system was built to be able to handle the inherent privacy laws that go along with anything medical.
“Everyone speaks image in the medical world,” González said.
The business started as a way to connect doctors, help improve quality of care and perhaps even save lives. But the founders quickly ran into the reality that they would also have to make money in order to grow. When it came time to fundraise, González kept getting the same answer from European investors: It’s not a proven business.
“They don’t want to take the risk,” he said.
So, González decided to move.
“We knew right away that if we really wanted to continue with the project and have a chance, we needed to move and go somewhere else,” he said.
During a visit to New York last year, González went to startup events. He immediately found the reps willing to provide negative feedback, which he considered a breath of fresh air.
“The negative feedback is even more valuable because you won’t waste your time doing something that’s not worth it,” González said. “In order to give quality feedback they have to listen to you carefully.”
Along the way, he became acquainted with DreamIt Ventures. When he learned that DreamIt had an accelerator program specifically focused on health startups, InsightMedi applied. Now, the company is part of DreamIt Health’s 2015 cohort in Baltimore.
"We want other people to give us a chance to prove ourselves, so we're going to do the same for the city."
InsightMedi is using the 16-week program to continue to work on its business model. González admits that being doctors and engineers, the money side isn’t always foremost on the company’s mind.
But he called a viable model the “most important thing that we can get from this program.”
InsightMedi is now identifying as a Baltimore company, and it’s aiming to incorporate in the U.S. With the accelerator program and the city’s existing medical community, González thinks it will be a great place to grow. He also sees a certain kinship with a place that has challenges and character that most people overlook “on the first level of analysis.”
“This is a city that we really identify with,” González said. “We want other people to give us a chance to prove ourselves, so we’re going to do the same for the city.”