41 minutes | May 25, 2021

A story about solving a massive global health problem by smartly leveraging and aligning technology and (ecosystem) resources.

This podcast interview focuses on product innovation that has the potential to prevent well over half a billion females on this planet suffering from mental health problems. My guest is Michel Valstar, CEO BlueSkeye AI

Michel Valstar is a visionary scientist and new-found entrepreneur. He’s the founder and Co-CEO of BlueSkeye AI, and remains a part-time professor at the University of Nottingham, where he also is the deputy-director of the Biomedical Research Centre’s Mental Health and Technology programme.

Having worked for 15 years on computer vision and machine learning for facial expression analysis, Valstar now wants to see his ground-breaking research turned into real products to improve the lives of people. He is particularly interested in solving the problem of self-management of mental health using technology that runs privately on people’s own hardware.

This inspired me, and hence I invited Michel to my podcast. We explore what’s broken in the world of treating Mental Health. We discuss why this domain is still in the dark ages and what can be done with technology to take it into the 21st century and make a meaningful impact. We explore what it takes to build solutions people in different demographics actually love to use day to day – and build a trustworthy relationship with. We also discuss how take on this massive global problem, with a very small team, while being resourceful and profitable very early on in the journey. 

Here are some of his quotes:

With blue sky, we really wanted to grab a big problem and try to solve it, not just conceptually, but all the way through to implementing it, validating it, making it self-sustaining. Making it actually value generating in the end. And in perinatal mental health, roughly half of the people on this planet will give birth to a child at some point. And 10 to 20% of those women will suffer, unfortunately, from poor mental health.

These are extremely large numbers. We hope to help a very large percentage of these people. But even if we could only help 10% of the people that suffer from this is still a massive contribution to humanity.

During this interview, you will learn four things:

  1. Why creating something for everyone will end up pleasing no one 
  2. How you can speed up time to market by working with partners that break your stuff
  3. How leveraging one product category can become the funding source for realizing your big vision
  4. Why the two core selection criteria for picking your projects should be: Alignment with vision and employee motivation

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