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How to Start a Start-up as a GP

Dr Zain Sikafi, GP and serial entrepreneur who has just started his 3rd start-up Mynurva, shares his top tips for creating a start-up.

Interview: Dr Lafina Diamandis  and  Dr Zain Sikafi

This week I caught up with Dr Zain Sikafi, GP and serial entrepreneur who has just started his 3rd start-up Mynurva.  We had a great chat about careers in general practice, medical entrepreneurship and the highs and lows of both.  You can enjoy the top tips Zain shared with me on starting a start-up as a GP and be sure to keep an eye on Mynurva filling a massive gap in the market for instant access to mental health therapies.

Lafina: Hey Zain, thanks for taking the time to speak to our Eurekadoc community. So you graduated in 2008, having intercalated in Management. Then after having a brief stint in Public Health you qualified as a GP in 2015. You’re onto your third start-up, Mynurva – which offers instant access to a therapist/counsellor. How did you come across the idea?
Zain: Thanks Lafina. The beauty of General Practice is the flexibility. I still do shifts, and I just found the waiting times for CBT unbearable, especially with GPs having to bear the burden whilst the patient is waiting for their CBT appointment. I had worked on Telemedicine in my last start-up- Doctoori, and felt the same could be done for Mental Health.
Lafina: Do you feel this is the next phase of the Digital Health boom we are witnessing?
Zain: It’s too early to tell, but for me what drives me is finding real solutions for problems. There are lot of the buzzwords, like AI, or blockchain. What I have come to realise with health is that people want something that simply works and nothing can replace the human element.
Lafina: What advice would you give to doctors who feel they have a great entrepreneurial idea?
Zain: 5 years ago – I would have said ‘ go for it and don’t look back’. The business world is tough, and I’ve seen many friends put their own money into doomed projects. The most important thing to do is to research your market, and test. I love the lean start-up approach, and using it you will build a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). The idea is that your MVP helps you test Value Proposition with your users. Once you have gone through the feedback loop, you should understand what your users value and how your business will grow.
Lafina: Lastly, how can doctors balance their entrepreneurial projects?
Zain: I chose General Practice, because I knew it would enable to have this type of portfolio career. But obviously not doing daily clinics I do need to ensure I keep up to date. If you are still training or hospital based make use of Virtual Assistants, or partner up with non-medics who can add value and share equity. You need to remember you’re building a business, and businesses need to make money to survive. Hence going on the journey with someone who has experience or a key skill-set can be priceless.
Lafina: How can one find a good partner/co-founder?
Zain: Network! You are only as good as your network. Use whatever avenue you have – contact your university alumni office, go to local MeetUps, join LinkedIn….and go for coffees. Ideally it should be someone you know or who has been introduced. Establish clear boundaries and make sure you have a Shareholders Agreement to outline your working relationship and what happens if things go wrong.

Many thanks indeed for sharing your experience with us Zain and best of luck with your start-up Mynurva!

You can follow Dr Zain Sikafi here 

Find our more about Mynurva on Facebook or Twitter @mynurva


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