Alumnus Rory Ryan, Chief Operating Officer and Founder of ZIO Health Ltd, describes himself as ‘striving to make positive impacts on society with medical technology’. In 2015 Ryan and his team launched ZIO Health, an innovative home diagnostic tool. Here he talks about developing and launching his business while completing his MSc in Innovation Entrepreneurship and Management (2016).
What gave you the idea for your business?
While at Imperial College Business School I formed a partnership with a medical doctor/MBA student from Oxford and a biochemist PhD from Imperial. We investigated a few different healthcare problems and found an opportunity in blood testing based upon his experience working in hospitals. We pivoted multiple times and settled on a home diagnostics device.
Our vision is to revolutionise healthcare, change the way we care for ourselves. The concept of ZIO is to provide state of the art diagnostics to the home with the aim of helping user lead happier healthier lifestyles.
We are developing a pocket-sized body fluid analyser that connects to your smart phone so you can test your blood, saliva and urine for nutritional parameters. Our app gives you personalised diet advice (and exercise advice when needed) to help you optimise your health so that you can potentially reduce risk of developing diseases. However, our first product to be launched in China next year is a baby nutrition analyser that parents can use to analyse breast milk quality, powder milk contaminants, water and baby food quality. Many Chinese parents have concerns about fake or contaminated baby powder and food products and worry how pollution and unhealthy diets affect breastmilk quality. Our device empowers parents by helping them to be sure they are doing the best for their baby.
What was the greatest challenge you faced in starting out?
Team formation. It takes time to trust each other and learn to work together. It is crucial to pick your team carefully based upon skills that complement each other. Also take into account there can be challenges if you are not all based in the same country. My business partner and I sometimes worked remotely at the beginning. We came up with the business name ZIO Health over email and only realised a few weeks later that we were pronouncing it differently. I pronounced it Z-EEE-O while he pronounced it Z-EYE-O. We settled on ZIO (Z-EYE-O) so it sounds like bio!
The most satisfaction comes from seeing your business grow as you hit new milestones.
Any advice to budding entrepreneurs?
"Always think big market first. It takes the same amount of exhaustive work on a big or small company so always choose the business idea that has the biggest market potential."
How did your time at the Business School prepare you for setting up your own business?
Before I completed my Masters, I attended the Entrepreneurial Smart Camp Summer School at the Business School. My immediate impression was that my cohort was full of creative, culturally diverse, and ambitious people. Everyone seemed to be passionate about innovation and ideas and I had never been in an environment like it. I felt inspired.
My role in the business is COO and my time spent in the Business School helped me prepare for things such as business strategy, pitching, management.
You can find out more about ZIO Health Ltd here, which has offices in the UK, America and China.