Greetings, Stephen! It would be great if you could share some insights about yourself and your background.
I'm American and I studied biochemistry and molecular biology because I come from a long line of doctors and scientists. I had done research in the lab, but I realized I'm not really a great laboratory researcher. I don't enjoy working in the lab as much as I enjoy the theoretical and experimental design side of science. So I pivoted a bit and got into investments within the life sciences tools and diagnostics sector. I spent the first portion of my career on the East Coast and in San Francisco making a variety of investments in the life science and biotech sectors.
I then did an MBA to get some more structured business education and that was the point where I had my first entrepreneurial efforts with a failed business in the US. I moved to Berlin to work for DeliveryHero right in the middle of the pandemic, a good time to be in the food delivery and logistics space, a very Covid resistant industry at the time. Afterwards, I did some operational work for another quick commerce business here in Germany. So I would say my background is a scientist turned businessman with a strong strategic finance focus and a practical appreciation of operations.
"So I would say my background is a scientist turned businessman with a strong strategic finance focus and a practical appreciation of operations."
Other than that, I'm a musician and I like sports and languages. I was one of those nerdy kids who was very good at foreign languages, and I ended up doing an exchange program when I was 14 in Spain, and that's when I got to see outside of the US for the first time. So from then on I wanted an international career, that’s also why I did my MBA internationally, in Singapore and France, before I ended up working in Berlin.
Can you walk us through your transition from working at Getir to joining Antler?
I was here in Germany on a visa, not as a national of any European country here, so I needed visa sponsorship. I wasn't ready to do anything on my own in Europe until I had permanent residency status, which I got at the end of last year. Now it’s easier for me to go out on my own. But also, I had done the scale up portion of my last job and the foreseeable future was going to be M&A integration and cost cutting and reductions, and that wasn’t really what I wanted to be working on. It was just the right time overall for me to make that next move.
My network was very good, but not in terms of people who were ready to start a business. So it was hard to find somebody who had time outside of their day job to work with me for hours and hours and who was willing to actually quit their job and put their money where their mouth is and hustle together.
"For me, Antler was a way to really accelerate that network, get access to 60 other interesting founders, get access to VCs, get access to advisors, get access to the ecosystem, with a program that has a great reputation."
For me, Antler was a way to really accelerate that network, get access to 60 other interesting founders, get access to VCs, get access to advisors, get access to the ecosystem, with a program that has a great reputation. I really got along well with the two partners, which was important for me because I know how important these types of personal relationships are. So for me, there was just no downside–I can accelerate my network, accelerate my journey, and keep myself afloat while I'm working on that. It was just kind of a no-brainer.
How has the Antler journey been so far?
It's been great for me and I would say that it has fulfilled my expectations. Antler doesn't build your company for you. Antler doesn't tell you what to work on. Antler isn't mommy and daddy and isn't going to make your life easy.
"Antler isn't mommy and daddy and isn't going to make your life easy."
And I didn't expect it to. What I expected was to be introduced to people, to be given a space to work, to be given the opportunity to work with other smart and motivated people, to speak to investors, to have people make introductions for me to angels or advisors and all of that has happened. So I'm very satisfied with it. I think the quality of the people has been very good and not just in terms of intelligence or pedigree. Also in terms of being good people, people that I would want to have lunch with or have a beer with, even if I'm not going to co-found something with them or they're not going to be an investor in my business.
Can you share a bit more on the idea that you’ve started working on?
We are currently working on an idea in the med tech space. It’s a diagnostic-focused idea. We started with the concept that the vast majority of people in Germany's healthcare system have statutory health insurance, a lot of things are very structured and paid for. But also, everybody knows that it can be difficult to get an appointment, that it can take a long time if you're not privately insured. Also, there are certain things you see medical professionals for that are embarrassing or uncomfortable or that you don't really want to go to the doctor for. And we have the concept that in some cases, this applies more to men than women. And actually the statistics support that men really don't go to the doctor as often as women do. They tend to ignore their issues or they're embarrassed to go to the doctor over certain types of stigmatized issues. So we were looking into this space and we asked ourselves, what can be done to help alleviate these types of problems and we came to the conclusion that telehealth and digital medicine can support a lot of this because there are a lot of conditions that can be diagnosed virtually and treated, whether that's with generics or OTCs.
The idea that we actually came to after admittedly looking at a huge array of medical areas and niches–we became quite interested in the space of male fertility in sexual health, which we think is highly stigmatized and overlooked. It's considered mostly a women's issue and there's not a whole lot of resources really supporting it. And so we believe that more men can be aware of their fertility and can take better control over their future family planning through a direct-to-consumer at home testing and collection service, sort of a virtual network of laboratories that allows us to collect samples shipped directly from patients’ homes so that men don't have to go into an actual clinic and have an awkward experience producing a sample in there with nurses and people waiting outside.
We are trying to design a service that's really built around the male experience in this whole fertility and conception process. Because as I said before, all of this was originally sort of thought of as a women's issue and designed with a woman's experience in mind and we think we can make some pretty big improvements to awareness around this for men–the experience that men have and I think that's just the tip of the iceberg. If you look into fertility and sexual health, that's only one of the very many stigmatized areas that men typically ignore in their lives until it's too late. And so we'd like to start there because we think we can make a 10x improvement as fast as possible.
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