February 16, 2016 by OCE Admin
OCE supports hundreds of award-winning companies across Ontario, from start-ups based in our colleges and universities to scale-ups with global sales.
Hear from some CEOs about their journey to success.
Meet Jane Wang, CEO of Optimity.
Tell us about your work history.
I've always loved science and statistics, so naturally instead of pursuing lab-based research after my Biochemistry degree, I chose to work on data sets for clinical research. Got a taste with HIV research, then early detection of Ovarian Cancer; and eventually I became a project manager for various global pharmaceutical trials in Multiple Sclerosis. The data and evidence-driven world of drug research always fascinated me. After working with larger data sets when consulting for pharma-sales and health cost-related projects, it became increasingly clear to me that the largest set of baseline health data will become available through mobile devices. As smartphones, wearable devices and health apps become ubiquitous, we can use this new aggregated dataset to catch and treat diseases early and drastically improve population health outcomes.
How did you get the idea for your company?
On Christmas Eve five years ago, while I was working as a pharma project manager in Montreal, I got a heart-breaking call from the Ottawa General Hospital. It turned out that my "healthy", active, 49-years-young mother had an aggressive form of cancer and needed to be hospitalized that day. I quickly progressed from shocked to devastated, as I spent the next six months in the hospital with her. Bravely, she went through three rounds of chemo, but it was too little too late. She passed away and my professional career in health lost all its meaning. My despair was rooted in the irony: despite having worked in early detection and symptom flagging for the last seven years, I failed to detect anything wrong with her. No one saw the signs early enough to have make a difference on her prognosis. As I drifted through my MBA and subsequent data-related projects where I worked on drug compliance mobile apps and data models for patient segmentation, the MVP of Optimity slowly took hold of me. I worked on it for two years on my own before convincing my co-founders (a colleague and a friend) to join me full time. We started this company in 2014 with the belief that the key to early detection is in proactive health and big data analytics.
How do you view your role as CEO of your company?
I have a great responsibility to myself and our team to clarify the vision, align the efforts and create a viable product. We have a great core team with a diverse set of technical competencies, so I mainly focus on ensuring that the business gaps are filled by new hires or myself in the interim. I generally do whatever is needed, which includes familiar things like data analytics and risk-mapping, as well as unfamiliar things like fundraising, selling and product managing. As our company matures, I am spending more time doing longer-term technical planning with my CTO and spearheading our thought leadership efforts.
What is the most rewarding aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Making a difference in people's lives by solving their problems.
What is your best piece of advice for others wanting to start a company?
Make sure you understand WHY you are doing this and only bring on talented people who are also driven by the same values; so that when the going gets tough, which it always will, you will all rally together as a team to overcome the obstacles.
What did OCE’s support mean to your company?
OCE has been instrumental in supporting us through the SmartStart Seed Fund, which helped us get our first customer! Then through the Market Readiness Program, which helped us reach 63 client organizations and gain momentum in the marketplace.
Optimity offers customizable workplace wellness software solutions that help build powerful habits for professionals. Its flagship app Dooo reminds employees to complete small tasks throughout the day such as drinking water, stretching, meditating, or eating a healthy snack. The platform also awards points for completed tasks that employees can redeem for rewards.
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