Curatio is the world's first social health prescription. What does that mean? The Curatio platform is designed to help patients find each other and the support, information, programs and personalized trackers they need to live their healthiest lives. Founder and CEO, Lynda Brown believes that connecting like-illness patients with each other inside a secure social network can significantly increase patient knowledge, adherence to treatment plans, and valuable peer support. We recently caught up with Lynda to learn more about her company, why she loves the Okanagan, and what it was like to be in the Dragons' Den.
Q: What inspired you to create and launch a platform like Curatio?
I had a complicated pregnancy and through that experience uncovered some really broken pieces of our healthcare system. When you or someone in your family is diagnosed with something you go into a bit of a tailspin. You have to learn all about the condition, it’s a very isolating time. You really want to talk to other people who have gone through it. This experience is what inspired some ideas around how I could fix it.
I did a lot of research to see what was already out there and then spent even more time thinking about how a solution like Curatio would even work. I finally got up the guts to pitch the idea to one of my best friends who not only loved the idea and but proceeded to help me out by having a heart attack two weeks later. He quickly became my first use case and together we worked on the needs surrounding heart-attack recovery and Curatio was born.
Q: Where were you before Curatio?
I spent my entire career in digital media. I actually started off in educational broadcasting and then the web came along and I got to do a lot of really cool stuff with mixed multimedia, dialable bulletin board systems, and then through telecommunications, video gaming, pretty much every platform. My passion has always been using technology to connect people and that really describes who I am — I’m part connector and part geek.
Q: What was your biggest challenge in getting started?
Certainly, access to capital is a challenge that every CEO faces no matter if it's your pre-seed or angel round or series C. Everybody is challenged with it. And I think for us having a really great team and investors who also are aligned with our vision and not just our business has been very important. We’ve got a really great group behind us that are helping to open doors.
Q: What was it like to be a participant in Dragons' Den?
Dragons’ Den was a pretty unique experience and certainly one that I don’t know if I would want to repeat. It’s very stressful. VERY STRESSFUL. Stress aside, I couldn’t be happier with the investors we have and the support of the whole Dragons’ Den team has actually been fantastic.
I think, as a CEO, part of your role is to share that vision and share it as often as you can. And I think when you have an opportunity to share with the rest of the world, say yes. No matter how scary it might be. Just jump in.
Q: What kind of goals do you have for Curatio over the next 5 to 10 years?
CEO’s are terrible at resting and celebrating the moment right. We are always looking at the next thing and the next goal. We already have users in 65 countries and that well exceeds where I thought we would be now. That said, I’m looking forward to covering the rest of the world in the next year or so and that means making it available in multiple languages.
Q: What are Curatio’s biggest challenges to growth?
Running a tech company is challenging but running a tech company in the health sector is even more challenging. Every country has a different set of regulations. This is not just straight up software. Privacy, for example, is very very important to what we are doing. And being privacy reliant in multiple jurisdictions around the world is all kinds of complicated. We are also a global platform and that means we need to have personalization settings for a very diverse base: different health conditions, different languages, different locations, different cultures.
Q: Why did Curatio choose to call the Okanagan home?
A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to attend Metabridge and that experience really opened my eyes to what was happening in the Okanagan. I remember thinking “Wow, there is a lot of cool stuff happening in Kelowna” and that kind of planted the seed. The Okanagan has all the makings of what you look for in a technology cluster. Fantastic university and college, vibrant community, Civic government that is very supportive of technology and a really great and innovative environment. When you are looking for a place to start a business like mine, these sorts of things are really important. Can I hire people here? Can I grow my business? Do I have industry support? Will I have a soft landing? Is it a progressive government environment?
The Okanagan has all of those things. That being said, Curatio is a very global company with a global platform so most of the folks on my team speak a couple of different languages and are located in different parts of the world. We are an interesting hybrid model of remote and face to face which is what your finding in most teams today. It’s less about where your located and more about the team.
Q: Do you have any advice for entrepreneurs out there?
It’s a fine balance between yes and no when you're starting a business. I am a big believer in saying yes. It opens you to opportunity and new connections you wouldn't see otherwise, and you have to lose some of that fear, you have to jump in. Balanced with that is knowing when to say no. Especially in the early stages - you can take a million different directions. You have to be really systematic in choosing one, testing it, iterating and pivoting to the next one is not right. It’s hard to let go of some of those ideas sometimes.
Want to learn more about Lynda Brown and the Curatio Team? Read more. Watch the video. See her on Dragons’ Den.
Read the full Curatio success story on the Accelerate Okanagan blog.
Brand & Communications Manager, Accelerate Okanagan