A terrible error in a lab led Tim Spong to start a company to improve the reliability and efficiency of pathology labs; big industry players are noticing. This interview was part of my due diligence on Tim’s startup, VistaPath Bio. Subsequently, I invested in the company.
- Sal Daher Introduces Tim Spong, Co-Founder of VistaPath Bio
- “Fast forward a hundred years, even if you walked into some of the best labs in the country, it’s still a room full of people cutting tissue and staining tissue and sitting over jars.”
- “…VistaPath is really aiming to do is build the next generation pathology lab using automation, AI, advanced imaging practices, and then put that into every lab in the world…”
- “The rest of the time and a lot of the costs is spent in these labs, in histology labs, making the slides so that a pathologist can render a diagnosis.”
- The Horror Story that Motivates Tim Spong to Improve the Lab Sample Workflow
- How Tim Spong Connected with His Co-founder Ben Burley
- “When I decided to actually quit my job and do it, it was really with him. We made that leap together. Like I said, he is amazing. I couldn’t imagine getting this far without him.”
- VistaPath Has Had to Overcome Investors’ Lack of Interest in Pathology
- VistaPath Has a Smart Benchtop for Grossing of Samples that Is Equipped with Cameras to Reduce Error and Automate the Process
- VistaPath Business Model
- “What we wanted to do with our business model is make our product something that anybody could have, any lab could afford…”
- “…our initial evaluations, we’re already seeing that we’re more accurate than humans, much faster than humans.”
- “We really strove and worked a long time to make our products something that someone can take out of a box, plug into a lab, it’s an easy-to-use interface, and they can use it as part of their workflow immediately.”
- Sal Daher Is Considering Making an Investment in VistaPath Bio
- Sal Daher Invites Accredited Investors to Join His Syndicate List
- Tim’s Entrepreneurial Journey
- Tim Spong Met His Wife at a Pathology Lab
- Tim Spong Credits Advisors for Helping Him Decide to Become a Founder
- “Some people have led us to some of our best advisors and investors were investors that actually turned us down.”
- Tim Spong Encourages Industry Experts to Start Companies to Solve the Problems they See First-Hand
Transcript of “VistaPath Bio”
GUEST: TIM SPONG
Sal Daher Introduces Tim Spong, Co-Founder of VistaPath Bio
Sal Daher: Welcome to Angel Invest Boston, conversations with Boston’s most interesting angels and founders. I am Sal Daher, an angel who is very curious to find out how the best start-up companies are built. My guest today is Timothy Spong, founder and CEO of VistaPath. Welcome, Tim.
Tim Spong: Hi. Thanks for having me.
Sal Daher: This is tremendous. By the way, I should mention that this podcast is sponsored by Peter Fasse of Fish & Richardson. Top-notch patent attorney. If you’re a life science company, be it a multi-national or be it a start-up, really, really needs to have strong patent protection, get in touch with Peter. Peter Fasse, you can find him on my website.
Anyway, Timothy Spong is trained as a microbiologist, and then for decades, he worked as a histotissue technician, meaning someone who is working in a lab. He ran labs. Then after running labs for many years, he hooked up with a partner at MIT Sloan and started a company, VistaPath, which is improving, creating a highly efficient AI-enabled workflow for histology, the handling of cell tissues. Anyway, let Tim explain. What does VistaPath Bio do, and why is it important?
Tim Spong: Yes. Pathology is something that I think touches a lot of people’s lives, and they don’t even maybe realize that it does. It’s not a surgeon, it’s not your dermatologist or your primary care physician who you see and talk to, really pathology happens a lot behind the scenes in healthcare. If you had surgery or you’ve had a mole removed or a biopsy taken, that tissue goes to pathology. The first place it goes is called the histology lab, and that’s really where we take that tissue and we turn it into a microscope slide so that a pathologist can look at that slide and render a diagnosis.
“Fast forward a hundred years, even if you walked into some of the best labs in the country, it’s still a room full of people cutting tissue and staining tissue and sitting over jars.”
Then that diagnosis is often maybe the most critical diagnosis that you’ll ever receive in healthcare, but it’s often delivered by, again, your primary care, your surgeon, but that work that we do in the lab is so hugely critical. It is manual. It’s slow. It’s expensive. This is what I did for 15 years. If you walked into a histology lab a hundred years ago, it would be a room full of people sitting over jars and cutting tissue up and staining tissue. Fast forward a hundred years, even if you walked into some of the best labs in the country, it’s still a room full of people cutting tissue and staining tissue and sitting over jars.
“…VistaPath is really aiming to do is build the next generation pathology lab using automation, AI, advanced imaging practices, and then put that into every lab in the world…”
What VistaPath is really aiming to do is build the next generation pathology lab using automation, AI, advanced imaging practices, and then put that into every lab in the world so that these patients that are ultimately really are our customer when you dig down, our customers are patients, provide them the best possible quality service or best possible quality care because these diagnoses are very important. I want to make sure that they’re right.
Sal Daher: Okay. Tell me what the VistaPath Bio platform does?
Tim Spong: Sure. We have our first product moving into the market now. We call it The Sentinel. Really what it does is it addresses the first part of the pathology process, and we call that grossing. When I mentioned that tissue comes into the lab, the first thing that happens when your sample is received is someone called a lab assistant will take that tissue that they received and they’ll enter some information into the lab’s computer system, and then that’ll get packaged up and often sit around frankly for a while until a technician, seen like a Bachelor’s degree or a Master’s degree, actually looks at the tissue.
What they’ll do is they’ll describe it grossly. What is the size? What is the color? What’s the consistency, the weight, defining characteristics of that tissue? Then they’re going to generate a report so that a pathologist, when they’re looking at their slide, they know what that original tissue looked like. What our system does is use AI and imaging to actually automate the process.
Sal Daher: Tim, let’s complete that process a little bit. You have the pathology lab assistant, you have the lab technician, and then you have the pathologist?
Tim Spong: Correct.
Sal Daher: Which is a PhD in Pathology?
Tim Spong: Or an MD.
Sal Daher: Or an MD, and is a highly specialized professional who is going to look at the tissues and look for abnormalities and so forth.
Tim Spong: Correct.
Sal Daher: What you’re working on is not the pathology side of it, which is being addressed by, for example, PathAI, which is a well-known company here in Boston. You’re addressing the beginning of the workflow right now, which is just the grossing aspect of it, which is being done by a lab technician.
Tim Spong: Yes, actually, that’s a great point to bring up. There’s a lot of interest in the diagnostic portion of pathology. We know the folks over at Path AI too. Amazing company. Really exciting work over there. There are a few other companies in that space page in Google. That’s the diagnostic piece, which I think a lot of people recognize from CSI or Bones or something. That’s what they know of pathology. That’s really like–
Sal Daher: The glamorous end of pathology. There is–
Tim Spong: Yes, right. If there’s any glamour in pathology, it exists there.
Sal Daher: Right.
“The rest of the time and a lot of the costs is spent in these labs, in histology labs, making the slides so that a pathologist can render a diagnosis.”
Tim Spong: I don’t think there’s a whole lot. Really, from a time perspective, that’s really only about 20% of the actual pathology process. The rest of the time and a lot of the costs is spent in these labs, in histology labs, making the slides so that a pathologist can render a diagnosis.
The Horror Story that Motivates Tim Spong to Improve the Lab Sample Workflow
Sal Daher: Tell the horror story that happened in one of the labs that you managed, which motivates you to start this company.
Tim Spong: A lot of founders, I think, have these genesis stories where they started their company because they had a flash, an epiphany, or something. I had a bit of a different experience. Like I said, it’s a real horror story. I was running a number of labs in Chicago for a really well-known large, and I should say excellent hospital chain. One of my most senior techs was doing this grossing work where she was describing samples. She was working on what we call prostate core biopsies. These are thin strips of prostate tissue when we’re looking for prostate cancer. They all look the same. That’s almost by design.
She was grossing these tissues and describing these tissues. Someone came over, tapped her on the shoulder. She was a senior tech. She would often help other techs in the lab. She stepped away to help that tech. When she came back, she actually swapped two samples unintentionally. Now, one of these patients was a 42-year-old who was healthy. Another patient was a 72-year-old, who had cancer, prostate cancer, and we swapped those. We saw cancer in what we thought was that 42-year-old and ended up doing a radical prostatectomy where they– they actually removed the entire prostate, which for a 42-year-old is not a small procedure.
Sal Daher: Can be catastrophic. It can have all kinds of horrible side effects.
Tim Spong: 100%. We didn’t realize that problem later until we looked at the complete specimen and noticed there was no cancer, and so there must have been a mix-up. One of the biggest differences there is– I was actually able to meet those patients, which is a rare opportunity. It had a huge impact on me. They were actually more understanding than you’d think, but one of their requests was, particularly the 42-year-old, was, I don’t want this to ever happen again.
Sal Daher: God. Poor guy.
Tim Spong: That’s what we function under at VistaPath, is making these problems never happen ever again. Not just for that patient, but for every patient in pathology. Every day, that’s what we strive for. I think we’re going to achieve it.
How Tim Spong Connected with His Co-founder Ben Burley
Sal Daher: Okay. Tell me about how you connected with your co-founder. Please tell us the name of your co-founder, and what he brings to the equation and what do you bring to the equation?
Tim Spong: Yes. My co-founder’s name is Ben Burley. He’s the world’s greatest co-founder, I’d say. We would have never made it anywhere near as far without Ben.
Sal Daher: How long have you been working together? How long have you had that opinion?
Tim Spong: Three, four years now.
Sal Daher: Okay. Long enough. Okay.
Tim Spong: Yes. I mean, I had the idea. I’d also had background in software engineering when I was in pathology and a real love for computer vision, AI, and distributed systems. I built a very rough prototype. At that time, my sons were actually in a Montessori School. There’s an MIT research school here in the city. Ben’s son was also at that school, and they continue to be best friends to this day. That’s how we met. Really, I remember one of the first things he said was a product’s not a company. You need to do more than just build a thing, like build a prototype. It was really Ben that helped me understand what it’s like bringing—
“When I decided to actually quit my job and do it, it was really with him. We made that leap together. Like I said, he is amazing. I couldn’t imagine getting this far without him.”
Ben’s background is in product design and systems design, product management. He worked in renewables for a number of years. Really, he was able to make it clear to me before we even started the company that there’s a lot more to building a successful company than just building a product. When I decided to actually quit my job and do it, it was really with him. We made that leap together. Like I said, he is amazing. I couldn’t imagine getting this far without him. We wouldn’t have. The great podcasts and pitch competitions and everything, and he’s always behind the scenes, but an important piece.
Sal Daher: That’s really great. Tell me a little bit. I understand you have a big player that is evaluating your platform at this moment. Tell us a little bit what you can make public. I think you’re constrained as to how much you can talk publicly about this, but you have a large player that is looking at your system right now.
Tim Spong: Yes. We technically, I would say we have two large players. We’ve made a– They’re both under NDA, so I can’t reveal too many details. When we were moving out into the market, we saw two major pieces of the clinical market and pathology. One was large hospitals and the other was large commercial labs. Commercial labs being like LabCorp or Quest, Sonic, Pathgroup. One of our intentions through our evaluation and pilot process was to find a good candidate for both of those.
Luckily, we found an excellent one here in Boston very early on. They’ve been a supporter for a while. Then when we had a little more of a robust, I would say alpha version of our product, we ended up showing it to a large commercial lab player in the US, got a lot of support and excitement about it, and were able to move forward with a small commercial deal and a pilot agreement with them. I would also say we’ve really had a lot of success across the line there and actually had some other agreements in hand right now with some of the other major players in the market.
Sal Daher: Tim, we were talking before the podcast the struggles of raising money for a company that is doing work with cytology, cells, working on cells. Tell me the situation and your thoughts on that?
Tim Spong: I would say before I started the company not really understanding the fundraising process. There are a few things about VistaPath which are amazing from an investor perspective, some things that are very difficult. I’d say one of them is just hardware generally. I would say a lot of investors are anxious about investing in hardware, much less medical device, and we have a much lower regulatory threshold than most medical devices. Then also, we had talked comments ago about that this is something that’s– histology is not in the public consciousness in any real capacity. Sometimes it can be difficult, I think, for an investor to– It is an emotional process investing and then–
Sal Daher: Very much so.
VistaPath Has Had to Overcome Investors’ Lack of Interest in Pathology
Tim Spong: Yes. I want our investor to be excited about what we’re doing. A challenge with us is oftentimes– If we can sit down for half hour, 45 minutes to talk to an investor, it’s very easy for us to show what we’re doing and the value behind it, but oftentimes we could say quick chat, like one of those first touch meetings. It’s hard for them to say, well, I don’t know why histology is important, why is pathology important. It’s been a goal of mine for some time to be able to encapsulate that briefly, in a 45-second pitch, but it’s not easy, right?
Sal Daher: Right. Well, I think your story about the 42-year-old and the 72-year-old prostate samples is extremely compelling. I think that story should be de rigueur in every conversation with an investor as to why this early– the pathology workflow is extremely important.
Walk me through a little bit the business model for VistaPath. How is it that you make money? First, explain how is your product instantiated? It has a physical component and it also has software, which is one of the reasons why certain investors may be a little looking at it more closely than they might otherwise, the fact that you have this conjunction of hardware, which is always hard plus a software.
VistaPath Has a Smart Benchtop for Grossing of Samples that Is Equipped with Cameras to Reduce Error and Automate the Process
Tim Spong: Yes. We do have a physical product. It is a smart benchtop for people to gross these samples. We have some cameras that watch[es] the technician work and ensures that there can’t be any errors and automates a lot of this process. Then you’re right. We also have a significant– As an AI company, obviously, there’s a significant software component both in the detection algorithms but also a lot of this data is pushed to the cloud so that it can be accessed by clinicians, by patients, by pathologists, by lab techs, and so those are both very important pieces of the same thing.
I would say, despite there being so much excitement around AI and around encapsulation of new forms of data, sometimes I think people forget that data has to come from somewhere. If you’re analyzing traffic patterns, it comes from traffic cameras, if you’re analyzing like PathAI, analyzing whole tissue to make a diagnosis. It’s scanned and comes from somewhere, typically, almost all the time, hardware. We like being at that edge actually collected the data. I think it gives us a significant advantage in the market. Right, you have to find a contract manufacturer, you have to build these things and get them out, and so it is a different process than download the following thing, download the following app, but again, I think it’s a worthwhile venture.
To go to your question about the business model–
Sal Daher: Explain how the business model looks right now, how your MBA co-founder is thinking that you guys are going to make money for yourself and for your investors.
VistaPath Business Model
Tim Spong: Sure, I would say we don’t have a hundred percent concrete business model right now. Obviously, that’s something you develop as you move into the market and work with customers, but to your point, one of the things I used to really struggle with as a manager of a lab is, I saw a new piece of equipment that I knew could help us, whether it’s a quality improvement, strategic advantage, money savings, whatever it was, but I was typically limited to about $25,000 in discretionary capital, which made– In medicine, that’s a cup of coffee, sometimes it feels like.
“What we wanted to do with our business model is make our product something that anybody could have, any lab could afford…”
What we wanted to do with our business model is make our product something that anybody could have, any lab could afford, and that we would operationalize the cost of this product. If you want to work with VistaPath, at least as we’re anticipating now, you can contact us. We will ship you, hardware either free or at a very low cost, we will integrate with you rapidly, and then we will actually charge you per sample for each sample that runs through our system. What that allows labs to do is, again, operationalize that expense. They’re saving from simple 1 instead of investing a ton of money and hoping for an outcome in the future. Besides I think a really great product, I think it’s that business model that has made us gain a lot of traction with customers quickly.
Sal Daher: Okay. You think that the revenue is going to give you such large margins that it is convenient for you to do this because, otherwise, you’re going to spend a lot of cash financing your equipment, your machinery by not selling the machinery. I understand the rationale of removing friction to gain adoption, but there’s also the fact that you’re a young company, you’re going to be financing a lot of hardware. The margins have to be so great that they pay back very quickly for your capital expense. Can you disclose how long you expect that payback to be?
Tim Spong: Yes. It’s on the order of months, and we do have a– You can think of as a tiered pricing system. There are different ways that customers can use our system and different workflows that it can enable. Based on that usage, we can charge different amounts. Also, that is a broader business model, as we move on to the market, I would say. We do anticipate maybe having a floor based on the number of samples that a lab processes each year so that if you are a smaller lab– We’ll look at more flexible options that obviously covers our ability to provide great service and a great product for the lab but also allows those labs to get, like I said, in a very low friction way.
Sal Daher: You’re hoping to become sort of like the best standard for all labs? This will be how samples are grossed when they’re brought in?
“…our initial evaluations, we’re already seeing that we’re more accurate than humans, much faster than humans.”
Tim Spong: A hundred percent, yes. I think even though our initial evaluations, we’re already seeing that we’re more accurate than humans, much faster than humans. Part of the reason too that we looked for these large, well-known players in the market is oftentimes medicine I think in general, pathology is not unique in this regard, pivots on some major key players in their respective sub-specialties. I think we’ve found those groups, and we’re hoping that they help convince the market that this is the way to do things in the future.
Sal Daher: Okay. I understand that this is not the first system that’s been attempted to help the workflow in pathology. There was an earlier one which did not work out. Care to talk about that at all?
Tim Spong: Yes, sure. I won’t bring up the company in because they actually made other products for pathology, and I think that they make good products, but this particular one was trying to automate part of this grossing process. It didn’t work for two reasons. We know this pretty clearly because our current customers actually tried to use this system at some point. One, it didn’t work simply because there’s a lot of variability in pathology tissues, and the technology that they were using was still a little immature, I think, to assess very potentially complicated and unusual samples accurately enough. This is medicine, after all, so you can’t have 70% accuracy. You need 95%, 99% accuracy.
“We really strove and worked a long time to make our products something that someone can take out of a box, plug into a lab, it’s an easy-to-use interface, and they can use it as part of their workflow immediately.”
Also, it’s really important to customers of ours and I think people in the lab generally that you can’t have a negative impact on their workflow. You can’t just ask for a bunch of consumables that don’t work for them. You can’t sell them something the size of a refrigerator that they can’t even fit in a lab, and that changes their workflows. We really strove and worked a long time to make our products something that someone can take out of a box, plug into a lab, it’s an easy-to-use interface, and they can use it as part of their workflow immediately.
Also, like I said, we can enable some really interesting workflows, like remote work, like tying into digital pathology platforms that we can enable either immediately if the customer feels like it, or they can begin using our system in a way that they’re currently doing, basically not interrupting their workflow, and then we can convince them to try more, I don’t want to say exotic, but different ways of doing pathology. Building that confidence helps to convince a customer to do that, I think.
Sal Daher Is Considering Making an Investment in VistaPath Bio
Sal Daher: Oh, I should mention to the listeners at this point that I am at this moment considering making an investment in this VistaPath Bio. I have not written them a check yet, my colleagues at Walmart are looking at it, and I’m going to coordinate with them. Maybe by the time that this podcast launches, I’ll have made a decision and I’ll put that on the website and see how it goes.
Tim, what I’d like to do now is get a little bit into your entrepreneurial journey and going from working for a company to actually starting your own venture. Before that, I want to do a little pitch for my investment syndicate. My investment syndicate is a list of people that qualify themselves as accredited investors and they put the names on the list so that if there’s a really, really interesting company that I’m going to create an investment vehicle to support, I will ping them and say, “Hey, do you want to participate in this investment?”
Sal Daher Invites Accredited Investors to Join His Syndicate List
I invite people who are accredited investors, to go to angelinvestboston.com, look at our syndicate section, and go through the little workflow there to qualify you as an accredited investor and then let’s talk. Your name or go on the list and then we can have a chat at some point about your investing, your interest is investing, and so forth. I’m calling out angels because I see a lot of very, very interesting early-stage, life science companies, and I’m investing exclusively in the life sciences now, Tim, because there’s so much to be done.
Marc Andreessen in 2011 said that software is eating the world. His firm, Andreessen Horowitz, has a podcast and it’s like bio eats the world, which is true. It’s like, it’s the next thing. It’s like 10 years later, it’s biotech’s turn to reinterpret it to turn everything upside down and to make possible things that were entirely impossible. Right now, as we’re recording this, we’re sort of like at the tail end of COVID with very promising results from these miraculous vaccines that we had. It’s just a lot more to come. There’s a lot of stuff in the life sciences. Sign up if you’re interested in life science investing and let’s chat.
Tim’s Entrepreneurial Journey
Anyway, Tim, let’s talk about your entrepreneurial journey. First, tell me, where did you grow up, and how did you decide to become a microbiologist?
Tim Spong: I grew up in, we call it Upstate New York, I guess. Upstate New Yorkers probably call it Western New York, so I grew up in Rochester, New York, just south of Rochester– My dad worked at Kodak for a number of years, so we had garbage plates. Worked at Kodak. We were two, red-blooded Rochesterians. I moved to Boston right out of college. Really, I hate to say that, I didn’t really have anywhere else to go. I didn’t know quite what I wanted to do. At that point, I was like, I’m going to be a doctor. Took my MCATs and did pretty well and was looking at what that was going to take.
Tim Spong Met His Wife at a Pathology Lab
At that point actually, I was working some temp jobs in Boston and got to meet a woman called Donna Fayad, who’s currently still working in Boston in pathology, and she offered me a job as a histotech. I didn’t know what it was, to go back to our earlier point, and really fell in love with it. I actually met my wife in that same lab, speaking of falling in love.
Sal Daher: Oh, wow.
Tim Spong: Yes, it really just spoke to me. It was an art. It is a lot of manual work and understanding and experience of tissue but also it was a science which I really liked. That’s how I got into pathology.
Sal Daher: Awesome. You worked in that business for 15 years, rising to the rank of a manager of a lab, running several labs, very large labs, and having a lot of experience. What drove you to decide to become a founder?
Tim Spong Credits Advisors for Helping Him Decide to Become a Founder
Tim Spong: Yes, it’s actually a great question. Besides telling the story of what I wanted to do, it’s a much different thing to quit your job with two kids and a wife and go and actually do it much less ask my co-founder to do the same thing. Both have two kids, live in Cambridge. It’s not cheap living in Cambridge despite– We like it a lot. Really what changed my mind was I met a couple of really amazing mentors, frankly. The founder of that school that our sons met at was a guy named Sep Kamvar who was at that point, I believe, still at the MIT Media Lab and it had some successful startups not in healthcare but in more software-related things and really, I suggested like, “Hey, this is something I want to do.”
He was really one of the first people to say, “You can just do this, right? Like you can go raise money, you can tackle this problem. There’s nothing separating you from a Mark Zuckerberg or Elon Musk. You can attack your own problems.” I understand that now, and actually, I think that’s a hundred percent true, and I would encourage more people to do it because it is possible.
I would also give a lot of credit to– When I talked to Sep, he suggested reaching out to MIT, which I did, and got into their entrepreneurship club, which I would suggest everybody contact Rich Shyduroff over at the Entrepreneurship Club at MIT. You don’t have to be a student. They will help guide. I would also suggest you take Nuts and Bolts of New Ventures at MIT. You can also audit that class for free. Both of those people really made it clear that you can go out and do this. It doesn’t mean you’re going to be successful, but you’ll regret it if you don’t. I would have, and I’m glad I listened to them. They’re still mentors to this day, by the way. I just called Sep. Just talked to Sep earlier today.
Sal Daher: Yes, that’s a great story. That’s a really great story. Tim, as we think about wrapping up our interview, I’d like to open it up to just, have you address anything that we haven’t covered that you think is important, that our audience of founders or people who work at startups, people who are thinking about starting a startup, angel investors, what would you like to communicate to them?
Tim Spong: Yes, I have a couple of things that I think I guess I would like to talk about that I don’t often get the opportunity to. There are two things in particular. I think to go into our discussion about fundraising, it’s my experience that the best angels, and I’ll plug your group too, as really amazing angels. Investors generally, let me say it this way, oftentimes the first pitch that you have with a VC, we’ve talked about this being an emotional process, and oftentimes it feels like sometimes the investor’s mind is almost made up, like we don’t do healthcare, we don’t do AI, we don’t do hardware.
“Some people have led us to some of our best advisors and investors were investors that actually turned us down.”
I would encourage investors to maybe listen to founders as much as possible. I understand it’s difficult to hear 20 pitches a day and also support some of our best supporters. Some people have led us to some of our best advisors and investors were investors that actually turned us down. We were too early or they weren’t interested, but what they wanted to help. They understand this process. I would encourage more investors to do that. That’s something I would love to see. I often think in my head, maybe I’ll get into venture capital at some point in the future and try to maybe do it in a different way.
Sal Daher: [laughs] Everything you’re saying makes sense, and I hope that you do get to that point because it’s going to be so much to be done in life sciences that it’s just like people have to retool, people have to reskill, people have to reconsider things because the old models don’t work because there’s going to be just so much to do. We’re going to have to bring in people from the sidelines, we’re going to have to do things in new, more efficient ways, which is what happened. It used to cost like $2 million, or $3 million for you to create a software startup.
With all the changes that came through, now, a couple of 22-year-olds with half a million dollars can build a product or a couple of 22-year-olds, with a couple of laptops, without half a million dollars, they can build a product and then convince people to give them some money to see if they can sell it. A similar process is afoot in the life sciences, and people should be revisiting all their assumptions about how to do it. Any other thoughts, Tim?
Tim Spong Encourages Industry Experts to Start Companies to Solve the Problems they See First-Hand
Tim Spong: Yes, I would throw one last encouragement out there. To your point, I would love to see more people from their respective industries get out and try this too. I think that’s not exclusively, but I think that’s where some of the best founders that I know came out of as they lived a problem, whether it’s at work, or maybe it’s at home with your kids or something. You have an idea because you sell your– A hundred percent right, there’s even no code, like really solid, no code like a bubble out there that you don’t have to learn how to write a single line of code. You can build an app, you can build software, you can test something enough to get some fundraising, get some customers. I would love to see more people, particularly older, people in their 30s, 40s, and 50s go out and try this out.
Sal Daher: You’re such an old man. [chuckles]
Tim Spong: You’re right, that’s the demographic you think of most founders, like this plucky 24-year-old, and that is true. I’d love to see it as a more diverse set of people.
Sal Daher: That’s very true. Great. Tim Spong, you’ve been a delightful guest. I’m really glad that you made time to be on the podcast. I’ve really enjoyed talking to you, and I’m very interested in your company. I’m looking at it very closely. I think it has a lot of promise. Thanks a lot for coming on the podcast.
Tim Spong: Of course, it’s all my pleasure. I had a great time.
Sal Daher: Thanks a lot. Timothy Spong. This is Angel Invest Boston. I’m Sal Daher. Thanks for listening.
Sal Daher: I’m glad you were able to join us. Our engineer is Raul Rosa. Our theme was composed by John McKusick. Our graphic design is by Katharine Woodman-Maynard. Our host is coached by Grace Daher.