Launching a startup is not a walk in the park. From talking to VCs, closing deals, and intense time management, to research and development, every entrepreneur knows that starting a business from the ground up is like pushing a boulder up a mountain.
On today’s episode of Startups On Demand, I am joined by Ian Sanders, CEO and Co-Founder of Blue Cape, a stealth startup in the field of healthcare analytics. We talk about his journey as a special forces operator turned security consultant turned software engineer turned CEO, the inception of Blue Cape, and what it takes for an entrepreneur to succeed in today’s competitive business environment.
Omri: Thank you so much for being on the show. Tell me something about yourself and your background.
Ian: I come from a security background. I started as a special forces operator in Unit 217 which is my military service. Afterward, I went into the world of security contracting. So I became a security consultant for the leading mining companies in the world, and I did that for quite a bit of time. That’s also when I tried starting a security consulting company dealing in the mining industry, which was my first taste of entrepreneurship and got me so hooked. I tried to give a go of it, couldn’t make it, and that’s life. You just pick up and keep on moving, and that’s it. I decided to come back to Israel and started exploring computer science and started building all these applications, and different products, and got super interested in the world of environmental surveillance, and basically, when COVID-19 hit us, we saw how these little respiratory diseases are able to cause massive disruption in multiple markets, and almost crashed the world economy at the time. It became extremely clear to me that instead of trying to build these weather prediction models at the time, there was this entirely new field of respiratory disease models that we need to overcome. We need to have that data. We need to provide that data. And that’s what Blue Cape is here to do, at the end of the day.
Omri: Can you talk more about what Blue Cape does?
Ian: We consider ourselves as a synergy of health and environment where they both come together. We work more on respiratory diseases directly. First, with the virus – COVID-19, influenza, then eventually we move on to COPD and asthma.
Omri: Take me to your day-to-day life right now. What does it look like?
Ian: In the very beginning, we were really grinding it out, but now, we’re doing more on long sales cycle enterprise deals. The deals that we’re doing right now, in particular, are in motion with the number of clients, and it’s really about building our presentations, going to this meeting, going to that meeting, setting up our partnership channel, finding the right people, and setting everything up to be completely ready, so the minute that we launch in the US, we’ll take the entire market.
Omri: We now have different levels of entrepreneurs. How do you think the level of the playing field changes with each level?
Ian: An entrepreneur becomes much more strategic as the company grows. It’s like being in a team. The higher you go up in ranking and the more people you have, the bigger the organization that you need to understand, and the more strategic your thinking needs to be, both short-term and long-term.
I really give credit to Elon Musk because I think he’s one of the greatest, if not the greatest entrepreneur of the 21st century, because even at his current stage with everything that he’s doing, he’s willing to directly go to the head of R&D or head of DevOps, and he would have a good understanding of what exactly needs to be done. That’s exactly what a CEO needs to do.
Omri: These days, some CEOs and leaders are no longer doing the work. I think the leading entrepreneurs, they’re able to set out a few hours a day to actually do meaningful, deep work. What’s your take on that?
Ian: Peter Thiel said that the greatest entrepreneurs are not the super experts. They’re not the person with the perfect GPA. They’re not going to be those types of people. It’s the generalists. It’s the people who are decent in machine learning, have a good understanding of engineering, good understanding of distribution channels, etc. They have 10 or 15 skill sets that are good. There is no total lack of information, and they can combine all those things together into a very deadly combination.