Our products record vital signs in contexts that used to be difficult. We truly feel we’re contributing to the evolution of science by making it possible to take measurements in real life, not just in clinics or labs. I look forward to seeing the first big scientific discoveries that will come from what we’re doing.
– Pierre-Alexandre Fournier, Co-founder and President of Hexoskin

Hexoskin, founded in Montreal in 2006 by Pierre-Alexandre and Jean-François Roy, is a connected health company whose mission is to record personal health data and make the information accessible and useful.

With 25 employees, this expert in smart clothing offers equipment, software and services across the globe, including France, Japan and Australia.

HEROskin

Recognized by Gear Patrol in 2016 for the excellence of their renowned biometric t-shirt, Hexoskin has thousands of users, including: individuals, such as athletes or trainers; clinical research centres, like universities, hospitals and health research companies; as well as government clients in security, defense and aerospace. The company puts their talents to work for paramedics, Olympic champions, firefighters, soldiers and astronauts.

In addition to their clothing that captures and stores biometric data on their servers, Hexoskin develops synchronization software and consulting services.

The company has various types of partners, including a university network, with whom they identify new uses for their tools. They are also involved in various research projects, particularly with the Montreal Heart Institute, McGill University Health Centre, the University of Ottawa and TÉLUQ University.

Hexoskin also counts systems integrators for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies as collaborators. In fact, Pierre-Alexandre was in Boston at the time of our meeting for a conference on innovations in pharmaceutical clinical trials, another sector in which the company is involved.

A question of momentum

Choosing the right moment seems imperative in technology, and the president of Hexoskin confirms that notion: “When we started in 2006, people weren’t really used to certain tech assets,” recounts Pierre-Alexandre. “You had to use a USB key for Bluetooth. There were no smart phones and laptops were not compatible. Nevertheless, we were familiar with adoption curves and we could predict that when we would be ready to sell the product, the technological timing would be good.”

At that time, Pierre-Alexandre and Jean-François, with their expertise in telecommunications, electronics and artificial intelligence, noticed that the majority of their colleagues were opting for online marketing jobs with Yahoo, Google or various financial companies. “They moved to London, New York and Tokyo to invest in the stock market, for example,” recalls Pierre-Alexandre. “Jean-François and I wanted to use our mathematical knowledge to do something that would help people instead – to improve services and make them more accessible, and facilitate the prevention, prediction and management of chronic conditions to avoid hospitalizations. That’s why, 11 years later, we carry on knowing that all this has meaning, that we contribute to society.”

In 2012, shifting from R&D to a production mode enabled the company to sell prototypes and become more profitable. They signed their first government contract for portable sensors with the Canadian Space Agency, who remains a client to this day. “We have a full development plan with them, and with NASA,” enthuses Pierre-Alexandre.

When I ask him what financing methods were used, he laughs and says, “Pretty much every method that existed – grants from $20 to $25,000, loans from four different sources… we even used our personal lines of credit for payroll.” Raising private capital allowed them to amass $3M and the company now has around 30 shareholders.

Health Online

This key player in connected health notes that it is the internet that allows them to reach geographically dispersed communities. “Clients mainly find us online because of our press coverage and by searching for our products on Google,” underlines the president.

Another important element for Hexoskin is that telemedicine is evolving. “In the United States this year, millions of people will have a video consultation with their doctor. If video consultation becomes the new norm, the connected health infrastructure becomes essential,” explains Pierre-Alexandre. “The main obstacles for this are regulatory. In Quebec, it’s also a question of business model. Doctors have to be paid, and in order to reach a critical mass, the government needs to get involved.” According to him, the Minister of Health should allow health professionals to provide services remotely in a supervised and paid manner. “With the same budget, we could do more…”

Source: Mélanie Pilon, writer for the Vitrine Star Tech


Be a part of technopolys!

23May 2018

When we changed our business model, which was a really major shift towards a new adventure, I didn’t know of any other company in Quebec City that had adopted this SaaS model. There were so few players we could consult to find out how best to go about it, that we decided to design and test a prototype ourselves.
– Johanne Devin, CEO and Co-founder of WebSelf

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02May 2018

Up until 2010, we often wondered if we wanted to invest in product development. Like many companies at the time, we were focussing on services in order to finance potential products. In the end, we decided to let go of the idea of designing products, because our service offering was really solid. After that, our growth curve was impressive, turning our 23-person team into the 150-person organization we are today.
– Stéphane Rouleau, President and Co-founder of Spiria

When I ask Stéphane to describe Spiria and their value proposition, he explains that the management team is actually trying to update their definition: “After 15 years of existence, it’s important to revisit it… simply said, we’re a digital solutions firm. Our clients call upon us to solve the digital components of their problems, due to lack of knowledge, resources or time on their part. In co-creation with them, we develop the best technology to optimize their activities.”

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