Disrupting the Health Tech Sector Worldwide, Starting with Brazil and Canada

Athimos was part of the 3rd Cohort at LatAm Startups back in spring 2018, and have been accepted into the Startup Visa Program. It is a secure digital health platform that consolidates relevant information for practitioners to make better and faster decisions to save more lives. It is a customizable solution that provides a holistic view of patient’s data to manage risks. The platform is designed specifically for the practitioners to improve communication between the healthcare professionals and protect confidentiality. 

We had a chance to interview Diego Correa, CTO and Co-Founder at Athimos, and Raquel Boechat, CMO at Athimos about their company and their experience in Canada.

How was Athimos created? What is the motivation behind it?

Three of us are the cofounders, we were working in another company as employees in the health sector in Brazil. We were two software developers at the research and development department there, while Elenio, one of the cofounders, was running special projects with hospitals. Elenio invested a lot of time trying to solve problems that are happening not only to Brazilian hospitals, but also to hospitals all over the world. He was hired by 3 different companies to try to develop this solution. As time goes by, he gained more and more experience and a growing perspective about the problem. He went to hospitals in Japan and Europe, trying to understand problems the hospitals there encounter. He saw and understood the real problem and discovered a really good solution for it, but he hit a dead end. His solution was deemed too advanced during that time, and the companies could not provide him with the support he needed. Elenio was then almost ‘forced’ by his friends and doctors to receive money to develop this solution himself, because his network believed in his idea of the solution, and they knew that he needed to find the right people to develop the solution he had in mind.

Since these investors are working in health sectors, they understood the real problems in the healthcare industry. They are not just mere investors – they are tech specialists, and they get involved in the solution since from the start, always staying connected with us and help us with anything we need. It is crucial for us to have their insight and knowledge as only they know the actual pain points they are facing during their work. It was 2008 when Elenio invited another software developer and myself to create the company and develop the first version of Athimos. At that time, we all needed to give up good opportunities in the market and stable jobs to become entrepreneurs, starting a new company. We then created Athimos, a solution created by healthcare practitioners specifically for healthcare practitioners. It is not a software created to manage financial or administration in the healthcare facility. With technology, it is designed to help practitioners to find solutions faster, and hence have more time connecting with their patients, save more lives, or even have more time for their personal relationships. We sold the first version of Athimos to a big hospital and we have been improving our software and our company ever since.

Why did you decide to expand to Canada?

Two years ago, we were about to complete 10 years of the company. We felt that we were reaching the maximum point of research and development for our software. Therefore, we decided to focus more on increasing the market for our products because we spent all these years continuously improving the product itself. That was when we started to look for another country to expand into. 

Athimos has quite a successful history in Brazil, with plenty of projects up and operating there. However here in Canada, it is different – it provides Athimos the opportunity to develop and research more on new technologies and new tools with the help of amazing talent that is growing here in Toronto. We knew that if we start here, it will be easier for us to expand our solution to other countries, which most likely have the technology to support Athimos. We would like to have a team here for research and development, and as a hub for us to go global. We think that when the decision was made to come to Canada, it was a great moment for Athimos. We have some barriers in Brazil that we do not have here. Even though huge country, Brazilians only see opportunities within the country and do not have the mindset to go global, unlike businesses in Canada. Canada has this culture of connecting so many cultures together, and this is a good opportunity for Athimos to get connections from all over the world, as the problems Athimos can solve in the healthcare sector exists everywhere. Furthermore, Canada values the unique technology very much as they know its importance for the country. 

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What are the challenges you faced/are facing in Canada?

We think that our challenges are mostly related to networking. We had a good reputation in the Brazilian market, and that took years for us to create that strong network. The people know you; they know how you work, and hence they can trust you and refer you to another person. By expanding to Canada, we jumped from a place where we are connected to lot of people, to a place where we did not know anyone. We had to start all over again, to create new network and start engaging with people. This is where the incubators and accelerators such as LatAm Startups come in, to help us create connections, same as Helix at Seneca, we’re also part of that program. We think these connections are most important aspect when entering a new market. Moreover, LatAm Startups is giving us a lot of opportunity to learn from the advisors, and also about the Canadian culture. It is a good opportunity for the companies entering to Canada to learn before actually doing business here.

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What are your current projects?

The Startup Visa Program has opened so many doors for us. When people know that we are approved and supported for this program, they see that we are willing to permanently stay here and this made them trust us more. This allows us to build connections easier than not being enrolled in the program, and also easier for us to do business as well.

We are really excited about the opportunity to connect with Mars to enter into their 5G program. We have a road map with a lot of features and innovative tools to develop in the next years, and one of them is completely dependent on the 5G technology. Here in Toronto, we have this tech available for public use. Therefore, we are really looking forward for this opportunity as it will be such a breakthrough in the health sector if we were to combine our tools with the advanced technology.

It has just been amazing for us so far! There are a few other opportunities we will be able to explore during the next months, we’re currently starting a pilot with a hospital here in North America, and we’re working in close some other deals in the market. We also have some events in connection with the Health Chamber in the upcoming months, pitch sessions, and networking events to build the connections and to spread the word in the market about Athimos.

Interview by Gabriela Latief, Marketing Assistant at LatAm Startups

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