Name: Adrian Rosebrock
Major: Computer Science
Academic Year: PhD student
1. Tell us a little about your company, and what makes your business
I am the Founder and CEO of ID My Pill, an app that identifies your prescription pills in a snap of your smartphone's camera -- instant pill identification.
The goal of ID My Pill is to empower patients by giving them the tools to take a more vested interest in their own healthcare. Physicians prescribe medications, pharmacists fill the prescriptions, but what about patients? They lack the tools to validate their prescription pills -- that's there ID My Pill comes in. ID My Pill gives patients the power to validate their prescription pills in a snap, and at the same time creates a checks-and-balances between the physician, pharmacist, and patient.
Prescription pill mixups are a very real risk. Over 3.3 million injuries and deaths happen each year due to medication errors. Given that nearly 50% of all prescription pills are round or white, there are a lot of visually similar pills on the market -- it's no wonder that
medication mixups happen.
My favorite part of ID My Pill is actually the API. Using the API, other companies (such as Drugs.com, Heathline, etc.) can integrate visual pill identification into their own apps, websites, or healthcare solutions. My goal is to make prescription pill identification via a photo the standard in medication identification.
2. Are there classes on campus that have helped you the most?
Three classes come to mind that helped me the most, all computer science courses.
The first is Machine Learning which gave me a high level overview of machine learning concepts. The second is Data Mining which explores Machine Learning concepts in more depth. Finally, I remember taking a special topics course, Computational Photography, during the last semester of my senior year. Undoubtedly, it changed the course of entrepreneurial ventures and academic research.
3. What are some resources that have helped you the most?
(Magazines, Books, Websites…)
I'm a big fan of consuming startup podcasts. They keep you in the entrepreneurial mindset and you can listen to them while you're traveling. My favorites include Startups for the Rest of Us, Mixergy, and This Week in Startups.
4. What is the toughest decision you have had to make in the last 6
My first entrepreneurial venture was ShiftyBits, LLC., a company I setup to do consulting work with the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Working closely with NCI, I helped create methods to automatically quantify the structural properties of acini in the breast. Using this information we were able to create methods to determine breast cancer risk simply from examining breast histology images. Doing this manually (1) requires a pathologist who is heavily trained and (2) is extremely time consuming and tedious.
Two months ago I was asked to return to NCI and continue my consulting work with them -- this is also about the time when ID My Pill was really starting to turn some heads. While my work with NCI had been rewarding, both emotionally and financially,
I had to turn the contract down and focus completely on ID My Pill. It was an extremely hard decision. I was passionate about with NCI and I enjoyed it very much -- the timing was just not right and I felt extremely motivated and compelled to push ID My Pill forward.
5. What advice would you give other student entrepreneurs?
The first piece of advice is to be a Tylenol, not a vitamin. The product you are developing should solve a particular pain point for your customers. If you have a pounding headache, you don't reach into your medicine cabinet and take a B12 vitamin.
Instead, you reach for the Tylenol. You want your pain to go away -- keep this same mentality when developing a product for your customers. Is what you are developing a vitamin? Or are you solving an actual problem the customer has? If you are solving an actual pain point, customers are much more likely to pull out their wallets.
The second piece of advice that I would give is to talk to other people. Talk to other students. Talk to other entrepreneurs. Talk to your parents, your family, your friends.
And most importantly, talk to your potential customers that your product is targeting.
Too many times I see entrepreneurs speak to only one or two potential customers about the product they are developing and then disappear into a basement to build the product. Six months later they emerge, triumphant that there product is finished. But then they are disappointed when no one is willing to pull out their wallet. The reason this happens is because the entrepreneur did not stay in touch with their customers throughout the entire development life-cycle. Don't build something that you "think" your customers will want. Speak with them. Talk to them. Find out their pain points and keep talking to them while you build.
Most importantly, stop worrying that someone is going to steal your idea. Honestly, building a product is the easy part. It's the marketing that is hard. And you won't be able to market effectively without keeping your potential customers in the loop as you build.
The "build it and they will come" mentality simply does not exist except in extremely rare circumstances. Talk to your ideas with other people, you'll be surprised what type of input you get.
6. If folks are interested in learning more about your company/
product, where should they go?