Let’s Start the Interview:
The Worlds Times: Explain your background and your Company’s in detail.
Anthony Warren: Born in the UK, I earned a PhD in Physics, followed by 2 years of research at the Universities of Illinois and Toronto. I started my first company in the UKthree years later, a technology consulting firm, leading the expansion globally with time spent in Australia, Europe and the US. For 17 years I consulted at C-level with the world’s major corporations in 22 countries. Then I shifted gears into the venture capital sector as a founding partner in a 10-year early-stage fund, as a venture partner with Adams Capital in Pittsburgh and then as a founding partner of a boutique investment bank. Another change of career took me back to Academia at PennState to grow the highly ranked entrepreneurship programs. This theme has continued via a Fulbright visiting professorship at the Business University in Vienna, Austria when I still teach from time to time.
While at PennState, I started my latest company, breathesimple™, triggered by a personal health event. The opportunity – diagnosing and treating the millions of sufferers of dangerous sleep apnea worldwide – a $5bn largely untapped market.
The Worlds Times: What are your goals?
Anthony Warren: There are several. First, as this is more likely my last entrepreneurial venture, to ensure that breathesimple delivers its promise to improve the life of millions of sufferers of poor sleep at a cost that everyone can afford; second, to spend more fulfilling time with my family and friends, and, of course, to take advantage of all that the wonderful city of Vienna can offer in cultural and lifestyle activities.
The Worlds Times: What do you feel is the biggest strength of BREATHESIMPLE right now?
Anthony Warren: Being ready to make a real difference in the lives of so many people in real health danger at exactly apoint in time when the science, enabling technologies and market awareness converge. And having a strong patent portfolio to protect years of investment in research that it has taken to get to this point.
The Worlds Times: What was the path you took to get to where you are today?
Anthony Warren: Like most entrepreneurial teams, our aspirations were ahead of the market as we set out on our journey. Low-cost wearables were not yet available, and even the capability of smartphones was way less than now. So we were forced into developing our own head-set wearable at significant cost. Only when several enabling technologies caught up with our dream, were we able to abandon our hardware efforts and focus on software and AI to make our solutions available to a large population at low cost.
The Worlds Times: Why did you start BREATHESIMPLE?
Anthony Warren: While teaching at PennState, I had a mini-stroke and ended up in the ER. Fortunately,there was no permanent damage! However, delving into the research literature, I discovered that a) this could be the first of many, and b) it could be triggered by sleep apnea, which my wife had observed for some time. Further digging uncovered research in Australia that reported certain breathing exercises might help to reduce apnea. I called the doctor in Brisbane, got the exercise instructions and a few weeks later was cured of my sleep apnea. If it worked for me, then how could we deliverthis solution to a major problem worldwide at low cost? Start a company!
The Worlds Times: What have been the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome during the journey of your leadership?
Anthony Warren: As with most start-ups, getting funding early-on is always a challenge. I was able to get significant grants from both State and Federal agencies in the early days. And thentoattract significant funds from my large and trusting network of executives built over the years. I also used this network to recruit exceptional talent from around the world using the latest collaborative software tools. But surprisingly, the toughest challenge was developing a compelling user interface for the first products and finding the best talent to solve what was, for me, an unexpected issuerequiring very unique skills to solve.
The Worlds Times: Give us one word that describes you the best.
Anthony Warren: Persistent.
The Worlds Times:What do you value the most about BREATHESIMPLE vision?
Anthony Warren: Knowing that we are at the forefront of the next generation of therapies for the alleviation of sleep problems based on exciting and solid research in brain neuroplasticity. Fascination with scientific breakthroughs have always driven my lifetime ventures: this is no exception.
The Worlds Times: What are the strategies of BREATHESIMPLE and how do you stand unique from your competitors?
Anthony Warren: We are partnering with several existing companies that will help build our market presence. These are both technology suppliers and market incumbents. To establish these relationships, it is necessary to have a strong portfolio of intellectual property, a strategy I have employed in all of my past ventures. Sadly, without this, large companies are likely to steal ideas. I and my colleagues have an impressive track record of winning major patent infringement cases! Our ideas are disruptive, leading tonovel concepts, and hence the importance of following a partnering strategy.
The Worlds Times: What are the key values which helped you to overcome the challenges in your path? Tell us something about your memorable incident in your leadership?
Anthony Warren: One key attribute of an entrepreneur is persistence. Starting a venture is like running a hurdle race. Each hurdle is a challenge, knock it down, pick yourself up, and keep charging forward. The day we realized that the next generation of the iPhone would have sufficient capability to replace our own wearable was a milestone. We were about to close the company for lack of funding needed to enter manufacturing. We have not looked back since then!
The Worlds Times: How do you see the company changing in two years, and how do you see yourself creating that change?
Anthony Warren: We will complete several corporate partnerships, complete the development and testing of our next product. This will use a wearable to a) diagnose sleep problems, b) guide non-invasive personalized therapies, and c) track sleep improvements nightly – all at anattractive cost. At the end of two years we anticipate selling the company to one of our partners. Setting up and managing such relationships are my strong suit.
The Worlds Times: What benefits are your clients getting from BREATHESIMPLE in this competitive world?
Anthony Warren: 80% of those suffering from dangerous sleep apnea are undiagnosed. These will now have a simple, at-home screening method to convince them that they should seek help before they suffer serious events. We will then be one of the earliest interventions to help resolve the issue before it is too late.
The Worlds Times: Would you like to say anything else to our viewers?
Anthony Warren: Entrepreneurs must have enormous resilience and persistence to succeed. Anynew company can become all-encompassing, demanding 24-7 engagement – if you let it. Not surprising then, that entrepreneurs have a higher-than-normal divorce rate. Getting the balance between work and social life is really tough but so important. Learn to work smart, not long, take time to grow yourself outside the company, and enjoy your friends and family. Life has many more riches to offer than a mere company!
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