In recent years, Big Tech has gotten a bad rep. But of course many tech companies are doing important work making monumental positive changes to society, health, and the environment. To highlight these, we started a new interview series about “Technology Making An Important Positive Social Impact”. We are interviewing leaders of tech companies who are creating or have created a tech product that is helping to make a positive change in people’s lives or the environment. As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dedi Gilad.
Dedi Gilad is CEO and Co-Founder of TytoCare, the healthcare industry’s first all-in-one modular telehealth device and AI-powered platform for on-demand, remote medical exams and visits. Under Dedi’s leadership, the company has received FDA and CE clearances and has seen extensive growth over the last few years, resulting in over 150 partnerships with major health systems, health plans, and strategic partners in the U.S., Europe, Asia, Latin America, and Israel. Before founding TytoCare, Dedi was the General Manager at MDG Medical, VP R&D at WorkplaceIQ (acquired by Accruent), and VP R&D at Aman Group, where he also led an R&D group for Microsoft. Dedi earned an MBA in Technology Management and a B.Sc. in Industrial Engineering from the Tel-Aviv University.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory and how you grew up?
I was born and raised in Israel, mostly in Holon which is a suburb of Tel Aviv, with my two sisters. I had a very happy childhood – growing up in Israel is a pretty free and relaxed experience and I was very lucky with that. I attended a high school that specialized in technology, studying computer science and hardware, which is when my love for tech initially started. I also learned and practiced art, particularly pottery and sculpture, which had a strong impact on my passion for designing as part of product development. All Israelis go through the army, and during my service I was in a combat unit, but eventually joined the intelligence unit where I was doing complex 3D modelling, and furthered my interest in technology.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Just after TytoCare received FDA approval, we started working on some clinical studies with a health organization in the US, which works with children with severe medical complexities. As these kids are very sick and mostly require monitoring machines and support equipment, their parents are their main caregivers and spend much of their time traveling to and from hospitals. During our studies, we began working with one of the patients very closely – a girl who had a serious heart deficiency – for TytoCare’s first time being tested in a real-life scenario. After about three months of working together, the girl started having problems breathing and her health condition worsened. With the tracking and remote diagnosis, TytoCare enabled her to be transferred to the hospital quickly enough to save her life. It was an amazing feeling that not only had we managed to impact this amazing family who had become part of our lives, but also realized the power our product could have on a bigger scale.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My wife is my rock. Working on a startup is always a rollercoaster, but in our case, we made the decision to start TytoCare bootstrapped which made things even more of a challenge. She’s been there every step of the way with me, and has become a key consultant – someone to test out my gut feelings on and bounce ideas off.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Something I think really encapsulates the startup mindset is something Albert Einstein said: “Failure is success in progress.” When you’re jumping into the deep end with a startup, you are going to fail. There’s no question about it – there will be failures. You need to be able to see these as steps in the right direction, because it’s the only way to keep moving forward and not go crazy!
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
Persistence – TytoCare is a complex product in a challenging market. When people around you say that your product is too complex and won’t work, and that no one will buy it, you have to be convinced that you are right and that you should keep pushing forward. Without that persistence, you’ll never succeed.
Chutzpah – this is a Hebrew word and there’s really no translation! It’s the sort of cheeky pushiness and audacity that almost defines Israeli society. When we were trying to meet with healthcare companies in the US, we were coming in as outsiders. Most people told us that we needed someone in the US to make it work. But we just kept pushing with as much ‘chutzpah’ as we could, and managed to take an amazingly innovative product to some of the biggest players in the US healthcare system who ended up becoming clients.
Team building – especially at a small company, it’s so important to work with the right people at the beginning. We had to create a very interdisciplinary group combining people with knowledge in software, hardware, medicine, US healthcare, and consumers; it’s a melting pot! Forming that first inner circle with people who were super talented was essential and we really got it right. We are a much larger company today but everyone in the company today is still filled with that sense of purpose and excitement for what we’re building.
Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about the tech tools that you are helping to create that can make a positive impact on our wellness. To begin, which particular problems are you aiming to solve?
Access to healthcare. Going to the doctor, especially when you or your kids are sick, can be challenging and often we feel like we’re likely to get sicker just because we’re sitting in the waiting room. But telehealth, often portrayed as the solution, isn’t perfect either – video calls are no substitute for a real doctor’s exam. This challenge has of course been multiplied since COVID came on the scene.
How do you think your technology can address this?
TytoCare allows patients to perform a comprehensive exam at home and share results with a remote physician for a quick, convenient diagnosis. Patients can send their exam results to their doctor or schedule a live call and go through the exam together. It means that patients don’t have to travel to see their doctor and saves trips to urgent care and the emergency room.
Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?
As a parent to two children, I saw my daughter suffer through chronic, painful ear infections at a young age. This resulted in countless clinic visits as well as middle-of-the-night and weekend trips to the emergency room, where she was subjected to long waits and exposed to germs. And with all that hassle, the diagnosis and treatment always ended up the same. I started thinking that there had to be a better way.
How do you think this might change the world?
TytoCare has the potential to expand medical care to those who need it at lower costs than traditional doctor visits. TytoCare also opens up healthcare opportunities for rural areas where patients may not have access; doctors can remotely listen to a patient’s heart, lungs, and abdomen, see inside the ear canal and throat, and take a patient’s temperature. Blood pressure, oxygen levels in the blood and other vitals can be measured, which enables complete remote patient examinations and monitoring. Schools are utilizing TytoCare to connect nurses or teachers who are providing medical care on the premises with doctors in hospitals to quickly diagnose children and allow them more time in class. These remote exams and telehealth visits can have a significant impact on the lives of people who previously did not have access to quality medical care.
Keeping “Black Mirror” and the “Law of Unintended Consequences” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?
At the end of the day, by taking healthcare out of the hospitals and centralized locations we’re putting a lot of healthcare data online. This is something that we take incredibly seriously and of course we comply with HIPAA and all other similar standards.
Here is the main question for our discussion. Based on your experience and success, can you please share “Five things you need to know to successfully create technology that can make a positive social impact”? (Please share a story or an example, for each.)
Just because no one has done it, doesn’t mean it can’t work. As I mentioned before, we were looking to bring a complicated product into an industry we hadn’t previously worked in, but we kept pushing because we believed in it.
Partnering with larger organizations will help you get more feedback and improve your product. It can sometimes be hard to get a foot in the door, but if you’re willing to pitch as a partner looking for feedback, sometimes that can go a long way.
There will be failures along the way, as Einstein said! You can’t let these impact you (at least not for too long) and you’ve got to learn from them so that you can push forward.
Understand that the people you want to help may not initially be able to afford your product – help them anyway. Not only is it the right thing to do, you’ll also get a whole bunch of feedback and results that will help you sell it to bigger companies in the future.
Surround yourself with an amazing team. I’m surrounded by people who love TytoCare and are passionate about what we’re doing. It makes such a difference – you can feel the excitement and enthusiasm!
If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?
I worked in the tech industry for 25 years before I founded TytoCare. And it’s like a bug. People love it and are fascinated by the technology and business cases. But when you take that technology and leverage it to create a product that can also help people, it’s a whole different level of energy. It’s amazing.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
I’d love to have lunch with Ron Arad – his multidisciplinary approach to art, architecture, and engineering really resonates with me, as I believe in taking that approach to life, whether it’s with studies, hobbies, design, philosophy. It really creates a well-rounded and balanced approach to solving problems and creating, and I’d love to have a drink with the master!
How can our readers further follow your work online?
They can take a look at our website, our Facebook page, and our LinkedIn profile.
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success in your important work.