First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Mory Bahar: Hi! I am OK, and the family is doing well, and we are grateful for our health. But we certainly miss get-togethers with family and friends, and we had to revise some of our travel plans.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Personal Remedies
Mory Bahar: I have been with the high-tech industry for several decades. I just look very young! I have worked in a wide range of organizations, from startups to Fortune 50 companies. Have held executive positions in mostly software companies, from no revenue to $400 million organizations. Two of the VC-backed companies that I worked for in the past went public.
The idea for my current venture was born from my personal experience and health challenges. When I was told that my cholesterol and triglycerides were too high, I had some tinnitus in one ear, and experienced heartburn from time to time … I tried to research what foods to avoid and what foods to consume more of. Soon I noticed two things:
1) The complexity and the challenge to digest and act upon the enormous available research.
2) Shortage of any dietary guidance for those who suffer from multiple chronic illnesses or health issues.
This finding led me to develop some algorithms and frameworks to capture, digest, analyze, and summarize food-disease and nutrient-disease interaction data. And eventually, I formed the company, and with the help of a few friends and ex-colleagues, implemented these algorithms, developed our current technology, and populated our knowledgebase with the available science from a great variety of sources.
How does Personal Remedies innovate?
Mory Bahar: Like most start-ups, we try to take advantage of the latest tools and technological developments. We started using AI long before it became popular again and mobile platforms prior to the introduction of the iPhone. We already hold a patent for “Personal Nutrition Advisor.”
But frankly, we don’t consider the use of the latest technology or being compliant with the latest buzzword … innovation. We try to innovate in how individual consumers and patients can benefit from the power of technology to learn and act upon how best to improve their well-being and deal with complex health situations. Our innovation is in our ability to answer questions that no one else can. For example, is grilled octopus healthful or harmful to pancreatic cancer? Or, what are the best nuts and seeds for an individual with three different health issues?
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Mory Bahar: We are a virtual company. Our team is scattered around the country, and our mobile apps are developed in Italy. Most of us work from home or multiple office locations. As such, the Covid-19 pandemic did not cause a major disruption to our internal operation, but it did slow down our Italy-based colleagues.
However, with respect to our clients and prospects, it did have a visible adverse impact. Some of our prospects in the healthcare industry had to focus on treatment instead of technology planning and deployment. However, some experienced turn-over, which resulted in a setback in our sales cycle.
From the product development perspective, we changed our focus to beefing up our research in the immune system, viral infections, and some of the COVID-19 comorbidities such as metabolic syndrome and fatty liver.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Mory Bahar: Not really. None of the decisions we had to make are considered difficult! The main lesson learned is to expect the unexpected and learn to adapt to changing circumstances.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and Personal Remedies in the future?
Mory Bahar: How do we deal with anxiety and stress? Easy! In our knowledgebase, we have comprehensive guidelines on coping with and managing stress and anxiety through food and lifestyle choices we make every day! As for me personally, in addition to making appropriate food choices, I play pickleball, walk and hike every chance I get. Taking a ten-day vacation all over Vermont with my two adult children and visiting the impressive number of micro-breweries and cideries also helped!
As for projecting our company, we would like to be known as the team who made the Food is Medicine principle a reality for consumers, patients, healthcare, and wellness organizations worldwide. Our mission is to identify which food is medicine for an individual taking into account his/her multiple health issues, risks, allergies, and medications.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Mory Bahar: There are many options available to patients and consumers for dietary information. Dietitians can provide dietary guidance and one-on-one coaching, but their expertise is often limited to a few common conditions such as obesity, diabetes type-2, and hypertension. Many health tech companies provide tools to support consumers. Some provide nutrient content of food items and recipes, track the amount of specific nutrients consumed each day, count steps taken by an individual every day, provide dietary guidance for a particular illness and others offer a combination of one-on-one coaching for a select few conditions and some of the tools mentioned above. But to the best of our knowledge, no vendor offers fully automated and personalized guidance that can take into account an individual’s multiple health issues, allergies, dietary preferences, and medications. None can answer questions such as whether my food of choice is helpful or harmful for my health profile. Or which vegetables, fruits, or nuts are most beneficial to my unique combination of health issues and risks.
We intend to “stay in the game” by continuing to offer unique and fully automated food-centric capabilities that help address the rapidly growing chronic illness challenge that threatens to overrun the nation’s healthcare capacity.
Your final thoughts?
Mory Bahar: I usually have thoughts and opinions on everything! But if we must focus on entrepreneurship, here is what I can offer. Being an entrepreneur is not for everyone. To become one, you must have a high tolerance for rejection, loneliness & risk-taking, be self-motivated and self-starter, and have a great capacity to walk and chew gum at the same time. If you don’t have the financial security to live through the initial difficult years of your start-up, or if you function better and are happier as a part of a larger team and in a more social setting, then don’t start your venture until you can address the finances and have recruited few co-founders who share your passion for your venture.
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