When Opportunity meets Vision
Arik Ben Yishay (36) has a strange hobby. Since he was 15 years old, he has been volunteering in Magen David Adom, looking at complex patients, with various needs, whether medical or psycho-social. During his military service, Ben Yishay served as a paramedic in the 2014 Gaza War, and had to triage the severity of injuries of thirty two injured soldiers simultaneously. This was when he came up with the basic concept of Biobeat, the startup company he is currently managing, to manufacture a single use patch, a smart patch, that is able to monitor the situation of various patients, prioritize and determine the urgency of their treatment, for doctors and other medical staff members.
“Necessity is the Mother of Invention”
Tell us about your early days in healthcare.
“Magen David Adom for me was a rescue. I was thrown out of two schools, and I found refuge in the Ashdod emergency station. I began volunteering there when I was 15.5, and quickly discovered a whole new world. I was first exposed to people who are at home, unsupervised, without proper medical attention. The amount of cases I saw, of elderly people who do not feel well, without anyone knowing, was too high. Fast forward to a few years later, my military service and the Gaza War, I had to triage the severity of the injuries of dozens of patients simultaneously, practically an impossible mission. This was when I came up with the basic concept behind Biobeat. Monitoring patches that can collect vital data from a few patients all at the same time, display them on a single screen, and rate the level of urgency in treating each and every one of them, for me, or for any other caregiver. About five years ago, I met my partners, Yohanan May (the company’s CTO) and Israel Sarousi (VP R&D), and we were on our way”.
And how does that link to the business you are currently the CEO of?
“I am currently the CEO of Biobeat, which is a medical AI system, that knows how to gather online data from various hospitals, process them, and send to the doctor and other caregivers insights regarding the level of urgency and the recommended order of treating the various patients. The system can actually guide the staff to see the patient in bed no. 3, then the one in bed no. 7, and then the one in bed 21. These priorities enable the health system a better, more efficient, way to save time and lives”.
“COVID-19 Enhanced the Need for Our Services”
“If before the pandemic, there were plenty of talk about the need for home care, COVID-19 turned these talks into a reality. The need for our solution grew. Both in Israel and in the world, hundreds of thousands of patients were at home, and there was a need to monitor and treat them. It became THE challenge, and Biobeat came up with the solution.
“The system is currently used in the States and in Europe in two aspects. First, it is used in hospitals. Patients that are admitted to the hospitals using our system receive a patch, which constantly monitor their vital signs, and knows to alert the staff in any case that might give rise to a life threatening situation, sometimes even before such danger is evident. For instance, a certain patient had to use a nose cannula (an oxygen pipe which is worn on your nose), and suddenly, the system alerted her blood oxygen level is decreasing. When the staff came to check, thanks to this early alert, they found out that she took off the cannula, instructed her to put it back on and thus her deterioration was avoided. If it wasn’t for our system, the staff would have gotten to her at a later stage, and there would have been no escape from anesthetizing and respiring her. This is preventive medical treatment at its best”.
“A second aspect of the system, which is still under development, is monitoring patients at home, using a smart watch. This product will be useful for people who live on their own, not only in pandemic times. These people will be spared the psychological stress of ‘what if I fall in the tub or do not feel well and no one will be there for me’. The anxiety an elderly man experiences, just by the thought that he should not feel well and no one will know, is intolerable.
“During COVID-19 we used the home monitoring for other purposes. First, it allowed doctors to treat patients remotely, from all over the world. Second, our product allowed pharmaceutical companies to conduct clinical trials while the subjects are at their homes, wearing smart watches. And so could the research managers be at home, or basically anywhere in the world”.
“We Got Plenty of ‘No’”
You are talking about the world, but what about Israel? What is the process you underwent as an Israeli startup company?
“During the five years of our existence, we got plenty of negative feedback. Usually, when investors see our display, in a certain venue, their primary tendency is to laugh and say no. We get it. The investment world is risky. The wearable products industry is still in development. But we are only five and the only ones who hold FDA approvals. We are very proud of that”.
And when did the Menomadin Foundation came in?
“Our company underwent a seed round in the end of 2017, and in March 2020 we decided to go for Round A. This was when we met with representatives of the Menomadin Foundation. Our second meeting with the Foundation was already in London, with Haim Taib. I was deeply impressed by him and felt that out of all the people I met with, Haim, who listened closely and appeared to be an experienced businessman, truly understood the potential of what he saw in front of him. I was under the impression that he really wants to change the world. This matches Biobeat’s approach. Our goal is to change the way patients are treated. The crazy time in which we live only sharpens this need”.
“The Menomadin Foundation Brings both Vision and Opportunity”
What is the added value of the Menomadin Foundation for you?
“The Menomadin Foundation invested in Biobeat a considerable amount, and their investment turned us into a family. Dr. Merav Galilli, Shoham Lavan, Shay Ratzabi, and Nimrod Eziony, they all became very dear to me. They accompany our every move and are involved in the company management.
“We are greatly contributed by the knowledge, the experience, and the wide vision held by the Menomadin Foundation. Not all investors become spiritual partners. Some people invest money in a project and there the relationship ends. But here we have a partnership, involvement, and a mutual desire to do great things together. This is what happens when vision and opportunity meet. The Menomadin Foundation brought the vision, not only the funds to invest in us”.
It should be mentioned that the Menomadin Foundation’s main goal is to make the world a better place. This is the reason the fund is looking to invest in startup companies that develop products and services with the potential to generate a social change, alongside economic profit. The Menomadin Foundation is looking for impact investments that yield both social and economic gain. The economic profit the investment yields, will enable the fund to make other similar investments in the future. This process generates a sustainable win-win situation.
“The Jewish Nobel Prize”
After the investment made by the Menomadin Foundation in Biobeat, the company was nominated to receive the prestigious Genesis Prize, and won.
Tell us about the Genesis Prize.
“The Genesis Prize is called ‘the Jewish Nobel’. Once a year a committee convenes, and chooses issues for which they wish to grant awards. Our entire nomination happened without our knowledge. After passing a few stages, only ten companies, of different fields, were chosen. We were there alongside EyeControl, another company the Menomadin Foundation chose to invest in. This shows how well the foundation’s investment’s concept works.
“The announcement of our winning was really exciting. The ceremony was held at the official house of the Israeli President. The chairman of our board was sent as our representative, due to COVID-19 limitations. We, the senior managers and office employees, watched the ceremony together on Zoom”.
What is your vision for Biobeat? What is your next dream?
“I have plenty of ideas, but I will try to describe one of the smaller ones. Today, High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. My dream is that in 10-15 years from now, it will seem funny to hear that someone died of a heart attack, just like it seems highly unlikely to say, at least in the western world, that someone dies of diarrhea. My vision is that a growing number of people will wear Biobeat’s smart watches, and thus be able to monitor their health independently. We are starting distribution from various medical organizations, and in ten years from now, if you ask me, this problem will become history”.