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The art of entrepreneurship is to be able to make decisions when things are blurry and cloudy
Padideh Kamali-Zare, PhD in Biological Physics, is CEO of Darmiyan, a company advancing their cognitive future with BrainSee, a patented AI-powered algorithm that provides the first viable solution for early detection of Alzheimer’s disease. BrainSee is a virtual microscope that using only current standard, non-invasive, medical procedures such as routine clinical brain MRI, reveals the details of the human brain invisible to the human eye. Prior to founding Darmiyan, Padideh was an adjunct assistant professor of neuroscience at NYU, New York.
Padideh holds a Ph.D. in Biological Physics from KTH Royal Institute of Technology.
Why did you choose to be an entrepreneur?
I wanted the freedom to form a product that addresses a global unmet need, then to grow and expand the work into a successful business, and eventually, impact the lives of millions of people worldwide. I particularly enjoyed creating the environment for my brainchild Darmiyan to get born in this world. With the help of visionary supporters and friends, we are developing a novel technology called BrainSee, offering a whole solution for MCI (mild cognitive impairment), Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia patients -- at least 50 million people globally including one in every five American seniors.
What are your favorite startups?
- creative, innovative, and outside-the-box ideas.
- passionate entrepreneurs and visionaries behind it who are committed to their original mission and vision yet flexible enough to make changes as needed.
- driving force for long-term, meaningful impact rather than short-term, soulless financial benefit.
Why did you start your current company?
Our brain is who we are and how we are. My personal view is that the human brain is intimately connected to a higher consciousness beyond our individual ones and a universal wisdom much greater than the daily human experience. We need to take care of our brains, maintain brain health and expand our consciousness. Currently there is no "objective brain health screening and monitoring" tool. My goal was to build that tool in Darmiyan and bring it to market. My vision for Darmiyan is to become a standard tool for brain health screening and monitoring, a brain checkup that detects all brain diseases.
As a first target I decided to focus on Alzheimer's disease because it's the biggest healthcare challenge of our time and one with no early detection or cure available today. Our mission is to detect the disease "early" when treatments are feasible. Currently people get diagnosed when it's too late to intervene effectively. At the time of current clinical diagnosis, the brain tissue has gone through massive, irreversible damage. By bringing Darmiyan's early diagnosis tool to market we can impact the lives of millions of people worldwide who suffer from Alzheimer's and dementia. This will help them keep their identity, memories, and self-care capabilities while living.
What's most frustrating and rewarding about entrepreneurship/innovation?
The most rewarding thing is to see your vision and dreams become realized, create new things, and contribute to building a better world. The most frustrating thing is to face investors who have a herd mentality and who cannot see the big picture due to a lack of long-term vision. It feels like the majority of investors are like that. I am so grateful to have found open-minded, big vision, high impact investors with the help of my finance team.
What's the No. 1 mistake entrepreneurs make?
Entrepreneurs make different mistakes at different stages of business:
- First, not validating their most essential assumptions such as who the customer is and why should the customer want the product.
- Second, jumping too early on having heavy structures and operations that dramatically slow down innovation and decrease flexibility.
- Third, getting too attached to their stories and becoming indifferent to the external world feedback. Adaptability is key to success.
What are the top three lessons you've learned as an entrepreneur?
- The art of entrepreneurship is to be able to make decisions when things are blurry and cloudy, not when things are clear, and the right decision is very obvious. No one can see the future or predict exactly how things are going to be. The key is to make an informed decision and do your best today.
- It’s really important to be patient and consistent. None of the ups or downs mean much in the long run. So focus on the big picture, and do the right things. The overall trend and story are what matter in the end.
- Entrepreneurship requires a high amount of freedom to enable the founder to think, decide, and execute effectively. Whatever limits that freedom can put the Company at so much risk.
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Darmiyan develops a software platform that detects Alzheimer’s disease up to fifteen years before symptoms, from the standard, widely available clinical brain MRI alone. The company enables early detection of Alzheimer’s disease in cognitively normal people. Anyone over the age of 45 should be tested, and the company has already tested 3,000 patients.
Using just a regular brain MRI, Darmiyan’s software platform can produce brain maps that detect Alzheimer’s disease-related abnormality many years before the onset of clinical symptoms. It detects cell abnormalities at a microscopic level to reveal what a standard MRI scan cannot.